The city of Denison is looking to clean up one of the major gateways into its historic downtown district. Officials with the city and Denison Police Department have issued nuisance warning letters to the owners of the Budget Inn and the Cardinal Inn Motel, located along the intersection of U.S. Highway 69 and Austin Avenue, due to the high number of dispatch calls involving the property.
“As required by law, this is a notification and warning that the Denison Police Department will join with the Texas Attorney General’s Office in targeting, processing and filing suit against the property owner if owner/manager allows public and common nuisances to exist on their property,” DPD Chief Jay Burch wrote in the letters, dated Sept. 20.
Burch goes on to say that it is the property owner’s responsibility to stop the criminal and nuisance activity at the location or risk the property be closed by the city for one year, with a bond of up to $10,000.
“The purpose of a lawsuit, if applicable, is not to show or prove the property owner is guilty of any illegal acts, but rather to prove the property owner allowed the illegal activity to occur on the property, after being notified as such, and failed to make reasonable attempts to stop it,” Burch continued.
In dispatch call logs released by the police department on Oct. 7, DPD had received 29 calls regarding the Cardinal Inn and 25 calls regarding the Budget Inn since April. More than 33 percent of those calls were related to disturbances, emergency medical calls, and burglary or theft investigations. Other reports include multiple criminal trespass and suspicious person calls, fights and assaults, and one report of a possible suicide.
The nuisance warning represents ongoing efforts by the city to clean up one of the major entrances to downtown. In early August, the city signed an agreement with DW’s Video over code enforcement violations related to its location near the intersection. Under the agreement, the city would not pursue code enforcement penalties against the adult video store if the business ceases operation by Oct. 31.
“This is a high-visibility corridor and unfortunately we have some buildings that don’t portray a good image,” Development Services Director Gabe Reaume said last week in regard to the hotels.
Reaume said many of the calls are related to domestic disturbances and drug concerns at both locations.
As an additional concern, Reaume said the hotels are operating as long-term residences, similar to apartment buildings, with monthly and weekly rentals. However, these structures are not built with the same standards and regulations as an apartment complex and are not meant for long term occupancy, he said.
Many of the hotel rooms have been outfitted with refrigerators and basic kitchen appliances, Reaume said, but they may not be wired to support the electrical load.
The development services director said the city is also pursuing minimum property standard violations against the owners of the Texoma Inn. A second building near the rear of the property appears to have been gutted for parts for the remaining units and left open. Reaume said many of the doors are unsecured and many windows are broken in the building.
Mahesh Patel, current owner of the Cardinal Inn, said he purchased the motel in May from Nel-Par Incorporated, to whom the letter was addressed. Patel said he was unaware of the violations, but has been working to improve and renovate all of the 29 rooms with new wiring, air conditioning and roofing.
Patel said he was aware of previous drug-related activity at the motel, but has worked to remove it and other problem behaviors from the property. In addition to that, Patel said he plans to convert the property to daily rentals “similar to Motel 6” rather than weekly and monthly rates.
Peter Patel, owner of the Budget Inn, said he has not witnessed any problems with drug use, prostitution or other major crimes at his property. He said he has seen a few fights, but has always called the police to handle the situation.
Peter Patel added that he plans to schedule a meeting with Burch later this week to discuss the problems the police department is seeing and ways to address them.