BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Excessive criminal activity has prompted the city of Maumee to take legal action against WoodSpring Suites, located in Arrowhead Park next to Brondes Ford.
On May 12, the city initiated legal proceedings in Lucas County Common Pleas Court seeking a preliminary injunction to stop the hotel from doing business. Further, the city is seeking approval to declare the property a nuisance and close it down permanently.
According to the request, the Maumee police department began investigating the premises last year due to criminal activity that ranged from drug offenses to domestic violence.
The city’s 51-page complaint outlines over 30 calls for service between October 2020 and March 2021, including six calls related to drug use, possession and overdose; illegal firearms possession; fighting and outstanding warrants. There were 13 calls for violence against family or household members with charges that included domestic violence, civil protection violations, property damage, assault, rape and suicide threats. The cases involved married couples, adults and children. There were also 14 calls for offenses against “public peace” that included vehicle damage, intoxicated individuals on the property, a disorderly occupant, property damage, vandalism of a hotel room and no staff present while responding to a 911 call.
Officers responding to a January incident found young children sleeping in the hallway after their parents left them alone and they accidentally locked themselves out of their room. The older child was found wandering the halls and the youngest, a 1-year-old, was alone in the room during the incident, according to the report.
Maumee Mayor Richard Carr said that the current situation is unacceptable and legal action is the only option going forward.
“They are either going to operate their business in a way that reflects well on our city or we are going to close them down,” Carr said.
Rainmaker Holdings of Lexington, Ky., is identified as the property owner of WoodSpring Suites. The hotel opened in February 2020 and has 123 rooms with a kitchenette and common laundry area geared to those staying multiple nights. It does not have a restaurant, bar or pool.
Maumee Police Chief Josh Sprow said that significant calls for service to one location deplete personnel.
“Anything that is a drain on our resources, that has become a chronic nuisance, is going to be addressed through abatement or whatever we need to do,” he said. “Based on the volume of calls and the nature of the calls, this is one of the first ones we are going after.”
Last year, city officials began an aggressive approach to address blighted or problem properties. According to Carr, the zoning codes were tightened and when needed, legal action may be taken. The city will also implement a new inspection policy, which will require motel and rental property owners to pay fees for needed inspection services.
“We really strengthened the ability to enforce going after rental properties and motels in the city,” Carr said. “I don’t know that we have had more problems, but we are trying to decrease those problems that are ongoing. “
Motels have been notified that rooms will be inspected and that fees will be implemented for those inspection services. In addition, inspection fees will also be applied to rental properties, the mayor said.
“If we repeatedly have to go out and inspect, it is going to cost them more money,” he said. “If they take care of their properties, it won’t require constant inspections.”
In November 2020, the city shut down the Budget Inn on Dussel Drive and the property was deemed a public nuisance. Several structural areas of concern were cited, including a crumbling concrete and brick balcony and a deteriorated parking lot. Several calls for emergency service were also needed, including one call that required the SWAT team for a man barricaded in his room. In addition, several individuals were staying in the hotel long-term, which is a violation of the zoning code.
Last Friday, a federal court judge sided with the city against Budget Inn by denying a request to dismiss the injunction, saying that the order allows the city to properly serve the public and protect the community.
“It upheld what we are doing,” Carr said. “We are now going to be filing against another hotel shortly.”