‘You Can Smell It Before You See It’

Motel ruled unfit for habitation

Dunn City Council shut down a local motel after the owners failed to address repairs needed to keep it open.

Council members deemed Downtown Motor Court, 410 S. Clinton Ave., unfit for human habitation after previous attempts to get owners Jashvantkumar and Kantabahen Patel to fix a list of problems identified by city inspectors failed. The city notified the establishment that all residents, including the owners, had to vacate the property by Friday.

“We’ve given them time and extended time,” Chief Building Inspector Steven King said. “Their 90 days ended in May and the last inspection was done Aug. 21. There were just a few items, two items to be exact, that need to be completed. In my opinion they’re fairly important items that they failed to address at this point.”

King identified numerous areas of concern regarding the business, including significant plumbing leaks in the drainage system and a crawl space full of trash and debris. City staff started receiving complaints about a smell coming from the location more than a year ago and Councilman Chuck Turnage said the motel went from a showplace to a blight.

“You can smell it before you see it,” said Turnage. “I’m ready to do something about it. It’s just a travesty to see it and I’ve seen it there. It’s an entrance into Dunn and it’s an eyesore.”

Councilman J. Wesley Sills pointed out that police responded to more than 150 calls at the motel since January 2018.

“On top of that, plus the building issues, I think it’s pretty clear how I will vote on this issue,” Sills said before voting in favor of shutting the place down.

Terms of the ordinance ordered residents in all 18 units to move out by Sept. 17, including the owners. The Patels now have two years to complete all of the required improvements or they again will be brought in front of the council to face the possibility of demolition.

“Under the nonresidential maintenance code, it allows for two years for repairs,” said King. “They have up to two years to make the repairs. We would need to do a full inspection of the entire premises. The first time we did the inspection, there were some rooms we were not able to go into. Once everyone is out, we have free reign over the entire building. The owners wanted to stay but I told them that wasn’t part of the deal.”

Turnage asked King if the Patels understood the seriousness of the council’s decision to deem the motel unfit for human habitation.

“I’ve tried to express that several times, even back in June and July,” said King. “I gave them 30 more days and told them if it went to council they would have to get out.”

Councilman David Bradham said the Patels received notification of the city’s plans at least eight different times this year and have yet to make the needed repairs. If the Patels want to reopen Downtown Motor Court, King said all of the items on the city’s list, and anything they find following additional inspections once the rooms are vacant, must be fixed before any Certificate of Occupancy (CO) can be issued.

“Once they get that sewage leak fixed, we’ll do a final walk through and they’ll get a CO that they’re in compliance with Dunn’s nonresidential building maintenance code,” King said. “It’s just a couple of little things but they’re important. We don’t need stuff like that going on. Complaints about the odor and smells have been going on for a year now. We addressed it back then. We didn’t go through the whole nonresidential part but we did go and get them to fix the sewage leak at the time. Evidently, it’s a problem again. It’s a recurring problem with something dealing with their sewer lines.”

King said the city worked with social services and the housing authority to help current residents at Downtown Motor Court find new places to stay.

-Dunn Daily Record