court order has prohibited further inspections of the Cleveland
Motel by city officials.
inspections of motel halted by court order
By Kevin Kelley
Published March 8, 2006
owner of the Cleveland Motel, located on Lorain Road across from
Burger King, was granted a court order March 1 temporarily preventing
any city inspections which could result in the motel being closed.
City officials and a representative of the Cuyahoga
County Board of Health conducted an inspection of the motel Nov.
18 after a guest complained to the city about allegedly unsanitary
conditions in one of the rooms.
A report by county sanitarian Kris Bosworth described
dirty bathrooms, holes or cracks in ceilings, and leaking sinks
His report for Room 15 stated: “The shower ceiling
is water-damaged with mold and cracking plaster. The shower floor
is cracked across the entire width and is not clean. There is a
smeared unknown substance on the bedroom walls.”
“The rooms at this motel are clearly not being maintained
in a manner considered consistent with acceptable sanitation practices,”
Bosworth wrote. “Unsanitary conditions and a total lack of cleaning
were found in virtually every room observed....The owner is not
maintaining this property in an acceptable manner.”
A second inspection Nov. 30 reportedly found similar
On Dec. 1, the city’s building department sent a letter
to the motel’s owner, Jitendra Kapasi, notifying him of 52 code
violations at the property. The city ordered Kapasi to abate the
violations by Dec. 30.
Kapasi’s attorney, Michael Gareau Jr., appealed to
the city’s board of zoning appeal requesting a continuance until
June. But the board rejected the request for a delay on all violations
except the painting of the exterior due to the weather.
Facing another inspection March 1, Gareau filed an
administrative appeal with Judge Ann Mannen and received it.
“The stay just maintains the status quo while the
court reviews it,” said Gareau, who emphasized the action was not
Gareau described the action as a standard legal procedure
designed to preserve his client’s future rights to appeal.
“From a legal perspective, it’s quite routine,” he
Gareau said he argued before the board of zoning appeals
for a delay until June for a number of reasons. First, he said the
state not local municipalities has the main job of regulating hotels.
Second, he said the city’s code was extraordinarily complex and
riddled with inconsistencies.
“I think the code as adopted is flawed,” said Gareau,
who currently serves as councilman-at-large in North Olmsted.
For example, Gareau said the city’s code states that
corrections to violations will be judged according to the International
Building Code. However, the city has never officially adopted that
code, he said.
Gareau told West Life the next step likely will be
an attorneys’ conference but he did not expect a hearing or trial.
But Fairview Park Law Director Lucian Rego said the court will probably
hold a hearing.
“It’s really up to the judge, so we don’t know what
will happen,” Rego said.
When asked to comment on Gareau’s charge that the
city’s code was flawed, all Rego said was, “He’s entitled to his
Gareau said his client intends to comply with the
“The owner has been working to abate violations,”
Gareau said, although he didn’t know the status of repairs.
When asked by West Life if as a North Olmsted councilman
he would fight against a property with such violations as alleged
against the Cleveland Motel, Gareau said, “I would have made sure
the code we passed was lawful.”
Fairview Park should back off his client and fix its
code first, Gareau said. His legal defense of the motel owner says
nothing about his commitment to property maintenance, he added.
“It’s not inconsistent to be against a particular
problem but want it to be remedied with specific legal code sections,”
The Cleveland Motel fell under an apparently similar
state of disrepair in 2000 under the same owner. The building was
condemned by the city and its certificate of occupancy was withdrawn.
“We’re back to where we were in 2000,” said Mayor
Eileen Patton, who credits a series of articles by West Life six
years ago with bringing attention to the problems with the property.
The Cleveland Motel made repairs according to the state standards
Patton wants the situation resolved quickly. “Enough
is enough,” she said.
The Cleveland Motel has been exhausting city resources,
the mayor said.
“It’s a drain on our services, our police, our fire
department when they have to go there,” she said.
What does she want of Kapasi?
“It’s time to clean up and act like a responsible