Motel manager speaks out

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 18, 2002

The manager of the Economy Lodge said Thursday, Oct. 17, that it was only last Wednesday (Oct. 9) when she was made aware of the problems at the motel. She also said she wants to bring the motel into compliance with city code as quickly as possible because a lot of people she cares about are on the streets.

&uot;I know these people and they know me and we’re friends,&uot; said Kim Johnson, the manager. &uot;I had to tell them they had no place to stay and that really troubles me.&uot;

Johnson said Fire Marshal A.G. Barrett came to the motel Wednesday to do an inspection. She said he said that several smoke detectors had been removed from the rooms, and the fire alarm system must be operational by Friday.

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&uot;Thursday, he popped in with the building inspector and he gave me a list of rooms that I couldn’t use, and he was upset with a lot of violations. Friday, he came in and gave me a list of 13 rooms that I had to close down and said that anyone who’d been here more than 30 days had to move.&uot;

Johnson said she had &uot;absolutely no idea&uot; that Suffolk’s city code prohibits more than a 30-day per guest visit at the motel.

&uot;Where I come from in Virginia Beach, we have guests who stay in motels as long as they want, and I knew nothing of that law in Suffolk,&uot; said Johnson.

&uot;I had to vacate the rooms on a weekend and it was a holiday weekend what with Peanut Fest and all. They had to get out and there was no place to go.

&uot;Like I said, I have no problem doing the repairs to bring us to compliance and we’ll end up spending more money than the city says we have to because we’ll fix up the place. Where I have a problem is in putting the people out of the motel.

&uot;They have nowhere to go and had no prior notice that they would have to leave.&uot;

Johnson said that hers is not the only motel in Suffolk that rents rooms by the week or month.

Angela Carter, a clerk at the Suffolk Inn (formerly Super 8 Motel), said she’s worked at the motel for a little more than a year, and in that time, she knows &uot;quite a few guests have stayed on a monthly basis.&uot;

At Joyner’s Motel, on Route 58-460, manager Codjoe Lucas said he rents rooms by the week and that as long as people pay weekly, abide by the motel rules and don’t cause a problem, they can stay. He added that inspectors show up at the motel and that he’s never been closed down for code violations.

&uot;They’ve told me when I’ve had some batteries removed from smoke detectors,&uot; Lucas added. &uot;But, that’s for the safety of our guest and we fix them right away.

&uot;I’ve never been shut down and we never know when the inspectors are coming.

&uot;We are supposed to be ready for our guests at all times.&uot;