Springfield Alderman Wants Bel-Aire Motel Condemned
Updated: Wednesday, February 25 2015, 11:00 PM CST
SPRINGFIELD -- Despite a sign for sale on one of Springfield's troubled properties, alderman Cory Jobe is calling on mayor Mike Houston to shut down and condemn the Bel-aire motel within 10 business days.
"I'm demanding some action," Jobe said.
Meanwhile, Mayor Mike Houston said he "learned this through the media."
Houston says it's not that easy to just shut down a business like the Bel-aire.
"We have to operate within the legal options and it's not simply a matter we can walk in and say you have to close or walk in and tell people residing at the Bel-aire motel 'you have to leave.' We have no legal ability to do either one... It would have to be deemed an unsafe or dangerous structure and it is not," Houston said.
Code violations against the property continue to add up; to more than 1,000 total. City inspectors were just at the property three weeks ago and more citations are on the way. The owner has been fined $114,000 so far; and is fighting it in court.
ABC News Channel 20's Liz Foster asked Jobe if it was jumping the gun to give the mayor 10 days without knowing the legal routes the city can take. Jobe replied, "I don't think so."
Those caught in the middle are dozens of tenants. New renter Herb Earl is happy with his room and defends the owners trying to clean up the property.
"Most rooms that need a lot of work are people that neglect rooms themselves," Earl said.
The Bel-aire's owner tells us by phone he has put $100,000 into renovations in the last year. Also new is a sign saying the motel is now only renting nightly and not monthly.
Still, nearby business owner Jonathan Leonard, of Deep Rootz Midwest, says the troubled motel needs to go.
"It does give us a reputation and it gives us a negative one," Leonard said.
Jobe says if the mayor's office doesn't move forward with condemning the motel, he'll pursue an ordinance to do so at the next city council meeting.
"We need to find a quicker solution to end the nightmare," Jobe said.
Alderman Jobe says he's working with social service agencies and the Springfield Housing Authority to find alternative housing for those who are staying at the Bel-aire motel.
Another thing Jobe tried to do is propose an ordinance that would delay a property owner from getting a new building permit if he had outstanding code violations. But he withdrew it in March of this year because he wasn't sure it had legal standing.