Motel fights Royal Oak Twp.’s bid to shut it down

Mike Martindale

Pontiac – An Oakland circuit judge said Wednesday he expects to decide this week whether to temporarily block the forced shutdown of a Royal Oak Township motel.

The township posted condemnation notices Thursday at the Royal Inn, a 203-room motel at 10900 W. Eight Mile, for a litany of fire code violations, insect infestation and other health and safety concerns discovered during recent inspections. Occupants were ordered to vacate the motel by this Friday and demolition could take place by Tuesday, according to the township.

But Rajveer Corp., which operates the hotel, and Northlander Inc., which owns it, requested a temporary restraining order, claiming the township is violating their property interest rights and due process.

Judge Daniel O’Brien heard verbal arguments Wednesday and took the matter under advisement, possibly to rule on the request this Friday.

“We feel it can be shown the Royal Inn is complying with concerns, has addressed many of the issues and working on others, and the condemnation is completely unnecessary,” Bradley S. Defoe, attorney for Rajveer and Northlander, said outside court. “For now, everything is on hold.”

According to court records, township building official Jim Wright inspected the motel June 22 and completed a report July 10 listing 34 items to repair or tasks to complete. Defoe said his client has spent “tens of thousands of dollars” to remedy problems, including buying new fire doors ($7,100); furniture, mattresses and TVs ($10,000); carpeting ($1,500); air conditioners ($2,600); and a heat machine to eradicate bed bugs ($1,700).

The motel operators seek in excess of $25,000 in damages and attorney fees.

The township argued that finding the motel “unfit for human habitation” should come as no surprise, arguing the operators were aware of code violations over the past six months and chose not to correct them.

“It is clear from the actions of the owners and management that they are either unable or unwilling to develop a plan of maintenance and repairs to keep this property compliant and safe for guests,” the township filed in response to the restraining order request.

The township said the motel has been “the subject of repeated fire, building and mechanical code violations” for years and had been condemned in 2014. The county Health Department has recorded complaints of bed bugs, black mold, other unsanitary conditions and the sale of drugs in the building for eight years, according to court records.

Inspections by the fire marshal on July 20 and again in August found that violations of fire door regulations, no-smoking laws and rules against cooking in rooms remained uncorrected.

In an Aug. 11 inspection, a deceased 49-year-old woman was found in one of the rooms by the fire marshal – something management had been unaware of, according to the township.

The township said that since last week’s condemnation notice was posted, there had been three fire-related incidents at the motel – primarily fire detectors being activated by unauthorized smoking and cooking in rooms.

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