Ashland council considering proposal to limit hotel/motel stays

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

ASHLAND, VA (WWBT) - People living in hotels and motels in Ashland may soon be forced to find a new home. In an effort to crack down on crime, the town is considering a proposal to limit stays.

What's currently on the books, isn't specific about what an overnight guest means. The police chief wants to change that to help reduce crime at the hotels and motels that some people right now treat more like apartments.  

The Apple Garden Inn isn't a home away from home for Virginia Mason. It is her home and has been for over a year.

"We're trying to find a place but it is so hard. The economy is so bad; no jobs out here for people. You can't afford the rent what can you do," said Mason.

Mason may soon have to pack her bags. The Ashland Town Council is considering a proposal that would prevent people from staying at a motel longer than three months in any six month period. Management at Ashland's 14 hotels and motels would be required to maintain guest registers to keep track.

"You do have those rare instances where you do have a good family that's forced to live in a hotel or motel because of financial situations. What we're looking at is those stays in a motel that are causing police calls for service because of assaults because of civil disturbance, because of disorderly issues narcotics issues," said Ashland Police Chief Doug Goodman.

Between 2008 and this August, police had 1500 911 calls from hotels and motels. The Apple Garden Inn topped the list with 413 calls.

Apple Garden and Twin Oaks are two of the motels with the most police calls in that two and a half year period. I tried to reach the owners of both motels, but was told they were not available.

Mason says the Apple Garden's manager makes many of those calls to complain about tenant behavior. She just applied for disability and may not have anywhere to go if the proposal passes.

"A lot of people would be on the street [and] homeless shelters would be so full people couldn't get in there," said Mason.

Chief Goodman says the proposal is similar to ordinances on the books in Williamsburg, Norfolk and Virginia Beach. He plans to present more information to the town council on October 19. 

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