Murray haunted house closed over code dispute

Aug 23, 2022, 3:56 PM

MURRAY, Utah — City officials have shut down a haunted house in Murray after they say the owner made changes that aren’t up to safety and fire codes.

The owner, Timothy Riggs, said he’s a target and believes the city wants him gone for good.

Dead City is a 20,000 square foot building that is vacant for most of the year. But inside, it’s full of custom-made monsters, ghouls and props you would find in a high-end haunted house.

Riggs said it took him and a business partner a year and a half to create the haunted house, and in 2017, got approval from the city to open for business. Now, he said new leadership is in place at the city level, and he believes they want Dead City gone.

“This year when they did the fire inspection, they immediately started taking issue with this item, that item, this item,” Riggs said.

He said he had made minor changes without getting approval on changes, but reversed them when the city informed him he couldn’t have a building that didn’t match permits. Still, he said, they wouldn’t sign off.

Joseph Mittelman took over as the Chief of the Murray Fire Department earlier this year. He said the building poses a danger with many code violations and he’s not willing to overlook any of them.

He and his team forced Riggs to close the door.

“We swore an oath when we took office as fire chief to uphold these codes,” Mittelman said.

The chief said this isn’t a personal attack; it’s strictly a safety issue.

“Our number one codes that are out there are absolute code are the life-safety codes,” Mittelman said.

And he said whenever they force a business to close, it’s not just one small violation, it’s generally more, and says that’s the case here, too.

Riggs said he respects the new city leaders, but says what they’re asking him to do would cost thousands of dollars he doesn’t have, especially if he can’t open for his busiest season, which is right around the corner.

He started a petition on change.org in hopes of getting public support and it immediately garnered thousands of signatures. But Mittelman said a petition won’t get the building up to code, and until that happens, Dead City won’t be able to open for business.

Riggs plans to plea his case in front of the Murray City Council Tuesday night. He said there are things within the current code they could do while they work on the expensive items that would still allow him to open for business.

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Murray haunted house closed over code dispute