AGAWAM – In the next step of a long process, the town has filed an emergency petition against the Agawam Motor Lodge.
In a report filed, Chulho and Sangyeon Yoo, the owners of the property, as well as 25 occupants of the Agawam Motor Lodge were listed as defendants.
The town has reported that people are staying at the motel for more than the allowed 30 days under its current classification. The Agawam Motel is an R-1 Transient Motel under the Massachusetts State Building Code, which means occupants cannot exceed the 30-day stay.
Because the owners of the Agawam Motor Lodge had allowed semi-permanent residency going beyond the limit, it had “illegally converted” and is functioning as an R-2 Non-Transient Lodging House, according to the petition.
The change in classification also requires the installation of a sprinkler system, according to the petition, but this is something that Attorney Gerard DiSanti, who is representing Yoo, will question when both sides appear in court on Aug. 7.
The other claim the town makes is that the Agawam Motor Lodge is a nuisance to the community, citing 184 police responses, including 22 arrests, and 70 responses from the Fire Department from Jan. 1 to June 30.
DiSanti said these areas are the focus for the initial court hearing.
“Right now, I’m in the process of verifying whether or not there’s legal grounds for the need to install a sprinkler system and challenging the fact that the Agawam Motor Lodge is a nuisance to the public,” he said. “Keep in mind that’s a four-way intersection, so there’s a lot of noise and a lot of people. That in and of itself creates a lot of problems.”
The complaint against the motel has asked the owners to vacate the building, provide alternative housing for occupants listed as defendants, demolish the building or draft a written rehabilitation plan, correct all code violations – whether fire, health, building or housing – and appoint a receiver to take over the property.
The two sides met on Aug. 4, and DiSanti said the Agawam Motor Lodge was brought up to code and the “only issues that are outstanding” are in regards to the sprinkler system, a change of use and whether or not the motel is a trouble to the town.
The motel is, as of now, still open because of a 45 day appeal window, and DiSanti said he and his clients will know more about the future of the Agawam Motor Lodge after the court date.
“We’ll know better after Friday how things are going to turn out. One of the important things was that it was definitely a productive meeting on behalf the town of Agawam, housing inspector, law department, the deputy fire chief and the mayor,” DiSanti said.
Issues with the Agawam Motor Lodge came to light after residents of a condemned building in Springfield were relocated to rooms in the motel in June. The residents complained of health and safety hazards, which spurred the town to look into the allegations.
While no decision regarding the court hearing was made by press time, continue to check www.thereminder.com for updates as the story unfolds.