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Rooms at Holiday Motel reopen

June 09, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

After reinspecting the Holiday Motel on Wednesday, the city of Hagerstown allowed the owners to again rent motel rooms.

However, 13 of the 15 apartments in the building must remain vacant, said John Lestitian, the city's chief code compliance officer.

Seven months ago, after a surprise inspection, the city ordered vacant motel rooms and apartments to stay empty, alleging numerous health, safety and code violations.

The Washington County Health Department allegedly found mold and mildew violations at the same time, but reported in February that those were fixed.

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Lestitian said Thursday that owners Babubhai and Leela B. Patel have made "significant" improvements to the building, particularly new heating and ventilation systems for each room.

The part of the building with 15 apartments faces West Washington Street. The motel section, which includes 35 rooms, including an office, fronts North Prospect Street.

Babubhai Patel pleaded guilty May 31 in Washington County District Court to one count of allowing someone to occupy a room without a working smoke alarm and one count of allowing someone to occupy a room that does not meet square-footage requirements, violations of the city's code.

The first violation carries a fine of $1,000. The second violation carries a fine of $200.

Judge Ralph H. France II fined Babubhai Patel a total of $700 for the two counts, plus $15 in court costs, according to court records.

The same charges against Leela B. Patel were dropped.

Court records on Thursday afternoon indicated that Babubhai Patel had not paid the fine.

A Nov. 1, 2005, report, prepared shortly after the initial inspection, says the violations included vermin, mold, heating, lighting and ventilation.

Babubhai Patel said in a phone interview Thursday that the heating and air conditioning systems were the major unresolved issue. He said the new ones are modern systems, replacing one that was "very old."

Patel has been working on an agreement to sell the building to Skip Tovornik, whose Frederick, Md., company, called CHS, would turn it into office condominiums. Professional offices would be sold individually, similar to condominium housing units.

Patel said Thursday that the deal is pending. Tovornik could not be reached for comment.

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