LIMA – The owner of the Royal Inn near downtown Lima has agreed to demolish the structure by year’s end, city officials say.
That agreement was part of negotiated settlement to a lawsuit filed earlier this year by city officials, who alleged numerous public nuisance infractions, fire code deficiencies and property maintenance violations at the motel located at 418 W. Market Street.
The city in May filed a civil lawsuit in Allen County Common Pleas Court against Rashmikant B. Patel, the owner of the Royal Inn, after an inspection of the premises revealed a plethora of code violations. The city alleged in the suit that the motel constitutes a public nuisance under both Ohio law and city ordinances and asked the court to order Patel to bring the building up to code.
“We fully intend to pursue this with the full force of the city’s law department,” Deputy Law Director John Payne said shortly after the lawsuit was filed. “At some point, the owner will have to make the decision to fix or demolish it.”
Patel has chosen the latter of those two options, Payne said Tuesday.
In a three-page judgment entry filed with by the court on Oct. 23, Patel “acknowledges and admits” that the former motel constitutes a nuisance as described in the Ohio Revised Code and “agrees that demolition of the premises is appropriate and necessary to eliminate the nuisance.”
Patel in that same filing agreed to finalize the demolition of the structure”by no later than Jan. 1, 2019.”
Payne on Tuesday said if Patel fails to live up to the terms outlined in the court document he faces a contempt of court charge and possible jail time.
The cost of demolition is approximately $100,000, according to city estimates. The building will be boarded up until such time as demolition begins, said Payne.
“I am very happy with the resolution to this situation,” the deputy law director said, “to the extent that Mr. Patel follows through with what he has agreed to do. To get the owner to agree to demolish this structure was a huge victory. The best possible result is that it (the structure) needs to be gone.”
A voice mailbox of a phone number for Patel was full and would not accept messages on Tuesday.
The city’s lawsuit against Patel followed an incident in April when a section of steel roofing on the building was ripped off by high winds. A joint-inspection of the premises with the state fire marshal followed and turned up 11 fire code and nine property maintenance violations during the walk-through. The building was declared unsafe and all occupants were ordered to evacuate within three days.
City officials also learned that many residents of the hotel had been using the building as a primary residence, some as long as seven years, when Ohio code limits temporary residency to less than 30 days.
Other problems noted by the city’s lawsuit include bug infestations, broken windows, holes in doors, unapproved cooking devices, faulty sinks and outlets and leaking roofs within some of the rooms.
The lawsuit also alleges the Royal Inn is a hub for criminal activities. The Lima Police Department has logged 452 calls for service at the premises since January 2016. The Lima Fire Department responded to 60 emergency calls in the same time frame. Thirteen of those calls involved suspected drug overdoses.
According information provided by the Allen County Auditor, the Royal Inn was originally built in 1964. The property was appraised at $370,300 in 2015.
Reach J Swygart at 567-242-0464.