BATH TOWNSHIP — A temporary restraining order is being sought against a Lima-area motel for building code and fire code violations that constitute “a menace and danger to the public health, welfare and safety,” according to one Bath Township official.
A complaint was filed with the Allen County Clerk of Courts on Aug. 26 on behalf of the Bath Township Fire Department against Ashook Patel, owner of Lima Inn, 1250 Neubrecht Road.
The restraining order hearing is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Friday in Allen County Common Pleas Court, although Bath Township Fire Chief Joe Kitchen said Tuesday the facility has already closed its doors, and all occupants have found other living arrangements.
According to court documents the state fire marshal, assisted by Kitchen, conducted an inspection at Lima Inn on Aug. 25 and found 79 fire and building code violations. Those included unapproved structural changes, unapproved electrical changes, rotted and sagging ceilings and floors, non-functioning fire-rated doors, blocked exits, fire alarm system deficiencies and multiple electrical hazards.
Because of those hazards, the Bath Fire Department issued a Serious Hazard Order to an on-site motel employee to vacate the structure. Patel also received a copy of the order and was also contacted directly by the State Fire Marshal’s office, according to the complaint.
The following day, Judge Jeffrey Reed upheld the preliminary order and all persons staying at the motel — estimated to be around 30 occupants, some of whom were believed to have resided there for more than a year — were ordered to leave the premises.
Kitchen said assistance was provided by Western Ohio Community Action Partnership, Allen County Children Services and the Lima Mission for “a few” of the motel’s residents who had immediate housing needs.
The request for a temporary restraining order against the motel states it is “clear that the Lima Inn presents a serious hazard such that said hazards could reasonably be expected to cause death or serious physical harm to the residents of Lima Inn” and other surrounding buildings.
“At the time of the inspection there were approximately 30 residents residing at the hotel. These residents’ lives are being placed in danger by continuing to reside at the premises without said violations being corrected,” the court filing states. “Specific action is needed to remedy these violations and until they can be fixed, a TRO is the only option to prevent any harm from happening to the residents of the Lima Inn and to the general public.”
Kitchen on Tuesday said he has been in contact with the motel’s owner “and he says he wants to make the necessary repairs and come into compliance.”
The fire chief said the issuance of the Serious Hazard Order that led to the temporary closure of the motel is not something officials take lightly.
“It is my hope that the owner will move forward with the appropriate repairs and will correct the violations,” Kitchen said, “because we would prefer to have a safe-operating motel in Bath Township versus a dilapidated, unoccupied building. We want economic development and growth in the township, and it’s sad when we have to issue an order like this.”