Motel Owners Ordered to Make Improvements, Change Business Practices

Huntsville, TN (2018-07-11) The owners of a local motel that was closed by court order in April have reportedly agreed to a laundry list of improvements and changes in business practices before the lodge will be allowed to reopen.

In a final order written by Chancellor Elizabeth Asberry, Chris and Nada Yousif, owners of the Oneida Family Motel, have agreed with local authorities that the motel had become a public nuisance and further agreed to a long list of improvements and changes in business practices before it can reopen.  The agreed order, which was filed Wednesday in Scott County Criminal Court, will eliminate the need for a planned two-day hearing scheduled in August.

In April, District Attorney General Jared Effler obtained a temporary order to close the motel because of documented cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, assault, narcotics trafficking, and theft.  “It (the motel) had become a haven for criminal activity,” said Oneida Police Chief Darryl Laxton.  In the twelve months leading up to the closure, local law enforcement agencies answered more than 250 complaints at the establishment.

Due to those complaints, the owners must adhere to strict guidelines regarding occupants and reporting of criminal activity.   The motel must maintain video surveillance of all public areas and allow access to that video to local law enforcement.  The owners must develop a list of persons not allowed on the property and share that information with the cops.  They must also report any criminal activity to law enforcement and cooperate in any prosecutions stemming from activity on the property.

The Yousifs must cease renting rooms for extended stays.  Room rentals will be limited to a maximum of two weeks in a given six-week period.  Renters also cannot have a residence within 50 miles of the motel.  Room capacity will be limited to two per bed, nor more than four per room.  Except for certified service animals, pets will not be allowed.

During the investigation, allegations arose that the motel’s management was pumping raw sewage from on-site subsurface septic systems into the city’s sewer system.  As agreed, the owners will have to connect to the public sewer and remediate any other wastewater issues.  In addition, the motel must pass annual health and pest control inspections and provide annual reports to the court.

The owners must also make improvements to the motel grounds, including either filling in the motel’s pool or maintaining it properly.  Routine grounds keeping must be maintained, and a dead pine tree on the property must be removed.  All buildings on the property must pass all fire, building codes, and electrical inspections.  Any disabled vehicles must be removed from the property within 24 hours.

When the motel closed abruptly on April 18, 2018, several occupants had prepaid their rent.  The Yousifs were ordered to return all prepaid rent to those persons.  In addition, they were ordered to reimburse the Town of Oneida $3,000 for direct costs associated with boarding up the structure following the closure and pay all back property taxes and the court costs associated with the case.