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Agawam Motor Lodge looks to appeal classification in Boston

Date: 8/14/2015

AGAWAM – Though the city and the Agawam Motor Lodge have settled some of the complaints facing the motel in court on Aug. 7, Attorney Gerard DiSanti said he and the owners plan to appeal to the Building Code Appeals Board in Boston.

Agawam filed complaints against the owners Chulho and Sangyeon Yoo and 25 occupants late in July, saying it was a nuisance and improperly classified as a motel. The owners of the Agawam Motor Lodge are moving forward to dispute the fact that it needs a change of use to allow occupants for more than 30 days.

The petition against the motel said it was classified as an R-1 Transient Motel under the Massachusetts State Building Code. It demanded a change in use to R-2 Non-Transient Lodging, which would include a required installation of an automatic sprinkler system.

DiSanti said the basis of the Agawam Motor Lodge’s appeal is that the city of Agawam had never classified the type of lodging.

“There’s no record of it. The lodging was built in 1962. Because they haven’t been classified, how can [the city] say there’s been a change of use,” DiSanti said.

The defendants have 45 days to file an appeal, and Agawam can file its own appeal once the decision is made. Associate Solicitor Patrick Tooney for the city said if it comes to that, Agawam would be willing to do so.

“We’re fairly confident in that regard that we are on the right side of that argument,” Tooney said.

With residents living in the Agawam Motor Lodge, some for more than 20 years, the classification determines whether or not these occupants have a place to live, DiSanti said.

For the time being, the motel is still open and no residents have been evicted.

“People are still staying there. Tenants were clapping when the decision was made because they don’t have to leave,” DiSanti said.

While the classification is still to be decided, the court date did provide both sides with closure on other fronts. Though the Agawam Motor Lodge was able to bring everything up to fire, health and safety code, Tooney said the city has continued with it as a precaution.

“We have continued those counts generally in case we need to keep them up again and appoint a receiver,” he said.

The two sides also came to an agreement on how to make the property more secure. They settled on safety guidelines, which include residents showing their keys when they arrive, signing in guests at the front desk and having guests leave by 10 p.m. The motel must also be fully staffed 24 hours a day, security cameras must be in proper working order and all complaints must be investigated by the motel staff.