Judge issues restraining order on Northwood hotel

Larry Limpf

The Wood County Common Pleas Court has approved a motion filed by the City of Northwood for a temporary restraining order against the America’s Best Value Inn, 2426 Oregon Rd.
Judge Alan Mayberry approved the city’s request March 19.
The city argued the facility has become a nuisance and presented as evidence an extensive list of alleged health and building code violations and crime reports during a March 2 hearing.
“Plaintiff claims the defendant’s property constitutes a nuisance….” Judge Mayberry wrote. “They also claim that the property is a danger to the safety and general welfare of the public and guests at the facility. At the hearing, defendant did not dispute that the hotel was a nuisance, rather, they indicated that the public interest will not be met by closing the hotel and that many of defendants’ employees will lose their jobs if this occurs.”
The restraining order does not close the hotel but directs the owners to correct the violations and prevent criminal activity.
Affidavits submitted by Tom Cairl and Joel Whitmore, the city’s police chief and fire chief respectively, claim departments have responded to numerous calls the past two years at the hotel and warnings to its operators have gone unheeded.
“From May 1, 2018 through Dec. 31, 2019, the Northwood Police Department had its officers walk through the…facility 167 times in an effort to combat and deter crime,” chief Cairl’s affidavit says. “However, increased police presence was still not enough to deter the criminal activity…”
During that time there were 660 calls for service to the police and fire departments.
“There is no other facility or address in the city that the police or fire department responds to calls for service, with this much activity,” the affidavit says, noting documented crime included 15 thefts, 12 warrants for arrest, including a murder suspect from Toledo, 11 drug overdoses, including four deaths, five prostitution arrests from an undercover operation, five criminal damage incidents, four assaults, one rape, two stolen vehicles and more.
Chief Whitmore’s affidavit states that fire and emergency medical service runs to the hotel have both increased in the past three years with EMS runs overtaking fire runs in 2019.
“Some of the most concerning violations deal with undocumented occupants not listed on the guest register, improper maintenance of the fire alarm devices, tampering with smoke detectors, permitting cooking in rooms with unapproved cooking devices, allowing permanent residence in the location in violation of state fire rules, and the shutting down of the fire warning system in October 2019 for several days,” chief Whitmore’s affidavit says.
The state fire marshal’s office inspected the hotel on Nov. 2, 2018, Oct. 21, 2019 and Jan. 29, 2020.
In May 2018, chief Cairl and Bob Anderson, city administrator, met with the new owners of the hotel and advised them the hotel had a history of violations and criminal activity.
In December 2018, Cairl, Anderson and Whitmore met with the desk clerk and notified management the hotel was still responsible for a disproportionate number of service calls. Cairl and Anderson went to the hotel again in May 2019 to warn the owners the hotel was still a nuisance and the city was considering legal action.
Judge Mayberry’s order calls for the owners to correct the fire and building code violations and have two security guards on site at all times. Management is also required to record occupants on a ledger and require photo identification from anyone renting a room.
A hearing on a permanent injunction is scheduled for April 22 at 9 a.m.

Excerpts from a statement by Shawn Desai, attorney for the hotel, follow:
“My clients have been putting their money where their mouth is and taking concrete steps to invest in the only solutions over which they have control – the quality of their hotel and security and safety of their operation. In 2019 alone, America’s Best Value Inn has invested approximately $400,000 in a comprehensive remodel and renovation. Over 60 of the newly remodeled rooms boast granite countertops, new tile floors, fresh paint, new carpet, new flat screen TVs, new energy-efficient air conditioning units, and new refrigerator/microwaves. Moreover, America’s Best Value Inn has invested approximately $90,000 to reconstruct and repaint its parking lot and an additional $8,000 to replace all parking lot lighting with high intensity LED lights.
“Moreover, America’s Best Value Inn invested approximately $3,500 to upgrade and add to its 42 camera live-video surveillance camera system and has provided City of Northwood police officials with 24-hour remote access to the live-feed. America’s Best Value Inn is planning nearly $500,000 in investments in remodeling, renovation, and security, not just relating to the remaining 90 unrenovated rooms, but to the lobby and breakfast area and state-of-the-art security keycard-access doors. These and other renovations are being planned and scheduled.
“I do want to note one very impressive takeaway from this lawsuit so far, that speaks volumes about our justice system generally, but also about Judge Alan R. Mayberry in particular. During the March 2 hearing, the plaintiffs presented numerous high-ranking and influential city (and one state official) to support their position. Defendants, on the other hand, include many individuals who were foreign born with defense counsel (myself) who is from out of state. After considering exhaustive evidence from both sides, with testimony from witnesses running past closing time of the court, Judge Mayberry made the decision to take the matter under advisement and take time to reflect on the issues involved. Judge Mayberry could have found many reasons to rush to a decision in favor of the much more powerful, and influential local governmental officials, but instead stood firm to truly and fairly consider the issues involved and to consider both sides. This decision served as a very impressive example in judicial ethics and leadership and speaks volumes about the quality of the citizens of the City of Northwood and about the quality of the justice system therein.”
Hotel staff has also received training in human trafficking awareness, the statement says.


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