A state health official said his office is working with a motel’s owner as he makes needed upgrades more than a month after 200 residents were evicted because of continuing safety and health hazards the owner had not addressed.
The Georgia Department of Public Health suspended the operating permit of the Budgetel Inn at 35 Carson Loop in Cartersville Oct. 15 after owners had not fixed items that led to a series of past alleged violations.
Victor Abercrombie, Bartow County environmental health manager for the department, said officials are waiting for owner Sri Bollepalli to make the needed changes at the motel off Cassville-White Road at I-75.
“They’re doing everything they need to,” he said.
After completion, health department officials will work with the owner on a plan for future management to keep the motel in compliance with state regulations for tourist accommodation facilities, Abercrombie said.
Bollepalli, a Marietta resident, in October told Cartersville radio station WBHF he already had spent $500,000 to add sprinklers and upgrade the ventilation system as part of a previous plan with the health department to update the facility.
Bollepalli’s attorney, Tony Perrotta, said Tuesday, Nov. 19, owners are hoping to reopen Jan. 1.
He said Bollepalli’s spending on upgrades to the facility now has reached $600,000.
County officials gave Bollepalli “a punch list of things they want done” and he hired an architect who “drew up specific plans to address all of the issues” and a contractor who is “knocking out the punch list in fast order,” Perrotta said.
He said Bollepalli was unsure if he would rent rooms on a long-term basis after reopening because of the extra requirements for operating as an “extended stay” hotel or motel.
State law requires such lodging businesses to have “fixed cooking appliances” such as stoves or conventional ovens.
Those evicted Oct. 15 included a number of low-income and disabled residents and children whom area social service agencies and county school system workers helped locate other temporary housing in the county.
Abercrombie said health officials had worked with Bollepalli for more than a year to fix a variety of problems. He said a plan the owner agreed to comply with was “not being followed.”
Violations cited Oct. 15 included unsafe cooking equipment — electric hot plates and toasters in some instances — being used; infestations of insects, such as roaches and flies; and not providing services such as housekeeping on a weekly basis.
Residents’ personal furniture items also were present which were not on the motel’s fire safety plan and could slow response to fires, Abercrombie said.
He said state health officials did not want to immediately evict residents but safety and health violations were severe enough to require immediate closure, he said.