On Wednesday morning, Hamilton County District Attorney Coty Wamp moved to shut down the Budgetel as a public nuisance.
In a written statement released to the media, she wrote that the DA’s office is charged to “to protect our community and keep our citizenry safe.”
The DA’s office filed a verified petition for abatement of nuisance, and a temporary injunction was signed by Criminal Court Judge Boyd Patterson. The order will temporarily shut down operations of the extended stay motel at 1410 N. Mack Smith Road until a hearing can occur.
In a court order, responsible parties from the Budgetel were ordered to appear before the court on November 21, to show cause why a permanent injunction should not be issued.
East Ridge Police Chief Clint Uselton said in a written statement that his officers have responded to a “disproportionate number of criminal complaints” at the Budgetel.
“In the last three years, East Ridge Police have received over 1.400 calls for service to this business representing 35 percent of all calls to hotels/motels in the city,” Chief Uselton wrote.
The statement went on to say that there have been 316 calls to the Budgetel from April to July this year. The nature of these calls were for people overdosing on drugs, drug offenses, and “various violent offenses.”
East Ridge officials said in the written statement that the city recognizes that shuttering the business will leave many people without a place to stay. The city will partner with the Salvation Army, Red Cross, the Hamilton County Department of Education, and Child and Adult Protective Services to assist with those in need.
East Ridge Mayor Brian Williams wrote in the statement released by the city that the decision was not made lightly.
“We never want to close any business, especially one that will affect families,” he wrote. “However, the increasing rate of crime at this location no longer made it safe for its residents and surrounding community, forcing the action to shut it down.”
According to the district attorney’s office three dozen children live at the Budgetel Inn. General Wamp asserted in her written statement that the Budgetel is home to “three or four known sex offenders.”
“This is unacceptable,” she wrote.
The DA’s office wrote in the statement that it has worked with ERPD to gather community resources to find temporary shelter for people leaving the Budgetel. Her office has notified surrounding hotels of the possible influx of those displaced.
“Our primary concern is the children that reside at the Budgetel,” General Wamp wrote. “We have been working with the Hamilton County Department of Education to ensure a smooth transition that will allow the children to live with their parent(s) in a safe environment.”
In her written statement, General Wamp noted that the previous extended-stay motel at the same location was forced to shut down due to unsafe living conditions. She said that the Budgetel had been given numerous chances to “clean up, both its premises and its clientele, and has failed to do so.”
“The Office of the District Attorney has brought this petition because our community will only continue to thrive so long as we are proactive when it comes to crime and safety,” Wamp wrote in the statement. “This proactive action is in the best interest of the county and the East Ridge community.”