Trial Underway to Decide Fate of Columbus Motel
Updated: Tuesday, February 19 2013, 08:31 PM EST
COLUMBUS -- The fate of a troubled East Side motel will be decided by a judge.
Columbus city attorneys say the Motel One on East Main St. near Whitehall is a public nuisance, and should be shut down permanently. The motel's owners, however, say they're victims of the crime in their neighborhood.
Proceedings began this afternoon at the Franklin County Courthouse in front of Environmental Court Judge Harland Hale.
In April, 2012, Judge Hale ordered Motel One closed and its tenants out. But the motel's attorney, Titus Donnell, said his clients have tried to complete necessary renovations.
"Motel One took every reasonable step," Titus said as the trial began. "Evidence will show they put up a security fence to regulate, as best they could, the people who came onto their property."
Titus also said his clients have worked with police to curb crime, and made a good faith effort to keep the criminal element away.
"You are going to see signs that they had posted that said no visitors, guests only," Donnell said. "On their receipts, they're saying no visitors, guests only. You're going to hear testimony that they did that so they could make sure who was on their facility."
Assistant City Attorneys Wes Phillips and Jaiza Page said the owners are guilty of maintaining a public nuisance, one that fosters drugs, crime, and prostitution. City attorneys say one of the owners should be held in contempt because of a permanent injunction from 2005.
Six undercover officers took the stand Tuesday, and all talked about what they'd seen at the motel, and the calls to which they responded.
"A lot of activity is drug activity," testified one undercover officer. "Prostitution activity. It's nothing to see a hooker in the parking lot coming from that area."
Early in the proceedings, the judge warned both sides that this would not be a hasty trial, but instead one that could last into next week.
Testimony is scheduled to resume Wednesday afternoon.
Reporter: Terri Sullivan
Web Producer: Ken Hines