Jerry Summers: Hard Questions On The Abrupt Budgetel Closing And Evictions

  • Thursday, December 1, 2022
Jerry Summers
Jerry Summers

The experienced editor on the left side of our dual-purpose local surviving newspaper has in her November 22, 2022, editorial column raised the question of the evictions of 700 extended stay tenants in a facility not quite up to the standards of the Westin, Edwin, or Read House hotels.

The answers to her valid questions can be started with a review of the Rule Docket in the Criminal Court of Hamilton County in case No. 277190 styled State v. Superior Creek Lodge (2010). This case was not filed by the then District Attorney Bill Cox but by the enterprising city attorney for the borough of East Ridge acting in a private action on behalf of the municipality at rumored substantial taxpayer expenses.

The documents in the afore-styled matter are a matter of public record and it is anticipated that the staff of the always cooperative Criminal Court Clerk (VD) will be glad to provide copies upon request.

The current “Public Nuisance” litigation is not the first rodeo for this valuable piece of property adjoining I-75 in the “Borden Region Retail Tourism Development District Act” law previously adopted. It may have made the property even more appealing to developers and real estate purchasers eager to obtain similar tax breaks.

On August 10, 2010, the late East Ridge City Attorney (JA) filed a lengthy nuisance petition alleging 300 instances that justified the closing of the motel (not just 100) asking the Honorable Berry Steelman, then sitting in the seat in Judicial Division 1 of Criminal Court seeking an injunction to close the lodge. A notice was sent to the parties on August 10, 2010 and after Judge Steelman properly recused himself from the case it was transferred to Division 2 under the jurisdiction of Judge Rebecca Stern.

Judge Stern, exercising judicial wisdom, did not kick the residents out onto the streets of East Ridge but required the parties to establish seven specific conditions that not only protected the public from a “safety” perspective but also allowed children, military veterans, mentally impaired individuals and, of course, a minority of legitimate criminals to still reside in the non-5 Star conditions of the site pending a further Show Cause hearing within 21 days from August 16th as to why the lodge should not be permanently closed and declared a Public Nuisance.

From 2010 to 2014 the judge regularly supervised and carefully monitored the Superior Creek Lodge situation until finally the public nuisance petition was dismissed without the facility ever being padlocked and closed on December 15, 2014.

The owners of the property would eventually sell it for $1.4 million. The present owners of Budgetel claim that they spent $2 million in renovations when they purchased the property. An appraisal was done by a local certified expert in the area that set the value of the property during that time as $5 million.

Fortunately, the original owners of this often described “eyesore” were willing and able to spend the funds and to employ counsel to fight the powers that wanted to close the establishment possibly to reduce its selling value. Although the present owners claim they are proud owners of at least 25 hotel/motels throughout the Southeast, it remains to be seen as to whether they would be willing to spend the necessary funds to renovate the premises once again or just raze or implode it and reap a substantial profit under the present real estate market.

Due to the limitation of space, the creative Time/Free Press Opinion Editor on the progressive side of the Adolph Ochs predecessor of the world-famous New York Times suggests that there are probably some other legitimate “hard questions” that might be raised under the banner of public safety and government supervision. The following two are from the conjecture of the author of this article and not in any connection to the Times/Free Press.

  1. How much in legal fees and court costs can be saved by interested parties by having tax paid law enforcement officials handle the eviction of 700 tenants?
  2. Which individuals (if any) directly or through “straw persons,” helped create the image that the Budgetel Motel is the 2022 version of Sodom and Gomorrah in beautiful East Ridge?

Monday is an important date on the judicial calendar. More “harder questions” may be raised and answered on that date in Criminal Court.

(The public, overtaxed local charities, and probably class action law firms are awaiting the outcome!)

* * *

You can reach Jerry Summers at jsummers@summersfirm.com)

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