North Baton Rouge flea market under scrutiny

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A small business in North Baton Rouge is facing compliance and permit issues with the parish, and the man who runs the shop is now firing back.

Driving down Plank Rd., the shop is hard to miss. The "House Doctor" is a home-turned-flea market with everything from stuffed animals to furniture.

Moses McWilliams rents the property and runs the shop.

"If it wasn't for me, where would it be sitting? In somebody's dump all mashed up," McWilliams said.

However, the business is facing trouble. A spokeswoman for East Baton Rouge parish says the store is out of compliance with a laundry list of business requirements, including making the shop wheelchair accessible and constructing a parking lot. That is something McWilliams says he cannot afford.

"I thought I was doing it legally, but now I'm Walmart. I've got so many things to do. I need this, I need that. Better have this, better have that," McWilliams said.

Neighbors have filed complaints against the establishment, claiming it to be an illegal business. The shop does not have an up-to-date business permit.

The story line is familiar. The parish says more than three years ago, the same man operated a similar business on North St. Neighbors filed complaints there as well.

Still, McWilliams is pushing back, calling himself an important part of the community. He says he cleans up the streets around the neighborhood, including clearing out the gutters.

Even so, a court has ordered that he has until July 24th to get his business in order.

"If they say, 'Shut it down,' I'm going say, 'I'm gonna close the doors and take my sign down,'" McWilliams said. "And then I'm going say, 'How ya like me now?'"

EBR Councilman LaMont Cole says he is going to talk to a parish attorney about possibly getting some of the compliance issues waived.

However, that may be a moot point. The parish says during a recent court hearing, the landlord indicated that they want McWilliams gone.

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