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Authorities Shut Down 'Nuisance' Motel in North Columbus

COLUMBUS (Ken Hines) -- Dozens of people were forced to leave a North Side motel on Wednesday morning after a Franklin County judge declared the business to be a public nuisance.

Police forced residents in 30 rooms at the Red Carpet Inn on E. Dublin Granville Road to vacate the motel just one day after posting notices on doors warning of the impending closure of the business.

Judge Daniel Hawkins ruled that city officials could close the business after undercover officers made a series of arrests in connection with repeated instances of suspected drug sales and prostitution at the motel over the past year.

Columbus police have been dispatched to the Red Carpet Inn nearly 600 times over the past two years, according to city officials.

"There's innocent people who come off of 71, stay at these hotels, and they don't know they're sleeping ten feet away from a drug dealer or prostitute," City Attorney Bill Spurlazza said.

In addition to the allegations of criminal activity, the owners of the business have recently been cited by the State Fire Marshall for violations related to stained mattresses, bedding, and carpets, as well as mold found in bathrooms. The business owners were also accused of operating without a license.

"This is one of the worst nuisance properties in Columbus, certainly one of the worst nuisance hotels in Columbus," Spurlazza said.

One of the residents forced to leave the Red Carpet Inn on Wednesday was Nelson Gotay, who had been staying at the motel with his three pit bulls while trying to find permanent accommodations.

"We've been trying to get out to an apartment, but paying $265 a week here broke our pockets," said Gotay, who claimed his attempt to obtain a refund from the motel's operators was unsuccessful.

City officials provided Gotay and other displaced residents with transportation to area shelters after the motel was closed.

The owners of the business are scheduled to appear in court on January 29, at which time a judge is expected to decide if the motel will remain closed permanently.
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