City: My Sisters Room lacks deck permit

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A code inspections official with the Atlanta Fire Department says their records for My Sisters Room don’t include a permit for the deck that collapsed on Friday, an incident that sent 12 people to the hospital.

The bar also did not include signs indicating an occupancy limit on the outdoor structure, which is a code violation, Chief Walter Parker told CBS 46 in a report that aired Friday.

The TV station, in the wake of the collapse at the popular lesbian bar, had a certified home inspector visit the East Atlanta venue on Friday. The inspector, Stan Garnett, criticized the construction of what he found.

“Basically all that was holding this up were nails and they had blocks of wood holding this deck to this deck,” said Garnet. “This is a classic example of how not to build a deck. It’s so amateurish.”

In a report that aired later in the day on Friday, CBS 46 reporter Michelle Marsh said her review of the city’s inspection records for My Sisters Room showed no permits that indicated the deck was approved by the city.

Marsh also interviewed Parker at the remains of the deck, who confirmed that the records don’t include any permits for the deck. He says the Fire Department will continue an investigation.

Patryce Yeiser, whose partner Susan Musselwhite owns the bar, told Marsh in the report that the deck was in place when My Sisters Room moved to the Glenwood Avenue spot in 2007.

“As far as I know the deck was permitted,” Yeiser says in the report.

Yeiser told Southern Voice on Friday that the deck was “grandfathered in.”

“She said they paid less than $1,500 to add an additional square space to the deck and believe the work to have been permitted.

Yeiser said they have met with their insurance company representative, and she speculated that a boxing event at My Sisters’ Room last week, which included a ring set up on the deck, may have contributed to the collapse.

Musselwhite also told Southern Voice that the bar added to the structure when they moved in.

Musselwhite said the property had an old deck in place when My Sisters’ Room moved in, and they had added on to expand it. The couple will spend the weekend in meetings as investigators try to determine what happened, she said.

“We are kind of in a whirlwind and we have to figure out what happens next,” Musselwhite said. “We’ve got to sort this out. First and foremost, when we reopen, we want to ensure the safety of our customers and make sure to avoid this ever, ever happening again.”

The bar remains closed for renovations. My Sisters Room hopes to open on June 25, which is during Stonewall Week. The Atlanta Pride Committee is partnering with several gay organizations to host more than 20 events in late June to mark the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

The collapse happened about 1:30 a.m. Friday and came as the bar hosted its popular Xplosion Thursdays, which includes members of the Atlanta Xplosion women’s professional football team. The incident also took place less than a week after a boxing ring was added to the deck to host an annual women’s boxing fundraiser for a team in the Hotlanta Softball League.

Though busy on Thursday, the club says it wasn’t filled beyond capacity.

“It was a busy night, but we weren’t slammed,” Yeiser said of the incident. “It wasn’t over-occupancy.”

Yeiser said the remainder of the deck was demolished, and there are no plans to rebuild it.

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