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Holiday Motel problems linger

January 14, 2006|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

The city still is requiring most rooms and apartments at the Holiday Motel to stay vacant, 11 weeks after authorities allegedly found health and building code violations there.

In October, officials reported finding vermin, mold and problems with heating, lighting and ventilation during a surprise inspection at the motel, which is at West Washington and North Prospect streets.

The health department reinspected the motel on Monday and reported that most of the problems it previously noted were fixed.

However, five rooms still have mold - which produces hazardous toxins - and cannot be used, according to a health department notice sent to property owners Babubhai and Leela Patel.

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The city, though, has not found the same level of progress in the last two months.

"We consider this an open case and active," said John Lestitian, Hagerstown's chief code enforcement officer.

Lestitian said Friday that a Nov. 1 city order - that any vacant hotel room remain vacant until the problems are fixed - hasn't changed.

The Nov. 1 order also says 12 out of 15 apartments in the building must stay closed.

"Our concern is for the health and safety of any guest and apartment resident," Lestitian said.

The Nov. 1 order amended one the city issued on Oct. 28, the day after the initial search. The earlier order required 15 motel rooms and 10 apartments to close.

A reporter stopped at the motel Thursday and Friday to talk to Babubhai Patel, but a woman said he was not there both days. She said she would leave him a message to call, but he didn't.

Shortly after the surprise search in October, Patel called it "discrimination."

"We have no clue," he said at the time. "They just all of a sudden come."

The Nov. 1 city report alleges problems with windows, bathroom ventilation, smoke detectors and air conditioning units.

It lists violations such as filthy floors, leaking faucets, broken headboards, missing light fixtures, "major condensatin" and "unknown growth" on walls, carpets and ceiling tiles.

Lestitian said Patel could have appealed the order within 20 days, but did not.

"Owners must comply with all guidelines for Permits and Inspections and a re-inspection authorizing the use of a room must occur prior to said use," the report says. "All remaining violations must be abated within thirty (30) days."

Lestitian said the city is waiting to hear from Babubhai Patel about how the violations will be corrected.

He said the city met with Patel and his attorney, Andrew Wilkinson, about the case several weeks ago.

Wilkinson did not return a message left at his Hagerstown office Friday afternoon.

The health department notice delivered to the Patels on Thursday orders them to get rid of the mold found Monday within 15 days of receiving the notice.

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