Dr. Patrice Harris of the county health department denied the permit and closed down the hotel Feb. 26.
“The permit may be denied based on a high number of calls for police service or for police intervention within the preceding 12 months, taking into account the severity of the incidents,” she said Sept. 4. “There were 328 calls for service for this property. One hundred of those calls were deemed severe.” The severe calls included shootings, stabbings and sexual assault. “Most of the problems in this case were street-level drug dealing as well as prostitution,” Assistant Police Chief Gary Stiles said Sept. 4.
The board amended the permit conditions immediately before the Zavers’ hearing Aug. 21, putting more responsibility on the prior operator than on the premises, but the change had little effect on their case.
“Five out of the seven [conditions] are tied to the operator,” county Attorney Larry Ramsey said. “The criminal activity references only the premises.” During depositions taken June 6 during the applicant’s appeal process, Mrs. Zaver indicated ties to the Extend-A-Lodge.
“I was married into the family,” Mrs. Zaver said at the deposition about the former owners, Old National Hospitality Co. Commissioner William “Bill” Edwards said he held the new owners as responsible for the unsafe atmosphere as the former owners. “I think it can be proven that people have held themselves out as owners of this hotel prior to this date,” he said. Vice Chair Emma Darnell disagreed. “There’s nothing in this record to support the applicant was the operator,” she said. “Her husband had a minority interest in the corporation that owned it.”
Staffing agency owner Ricky Brown, who also spoke Aug. 21 and Sept. 4, said at the deposition more jobs would result from the hotel’s presence.
“This Red Roof Inn, this hotel could be a model to what we are looking for in this community, what other business owners would hopefully attract seeing the Red Roof Inn coming to Fulton Industrial,” he said. But Commissioner Liz Hausmann said the opposite was true.
“I support economic development, retention and job creation. This troubles me greatly,” she said. “One of the most troubling aspects is the local business community and [community improvement district] are adamantly opposed to it.” When asked at the deposition what would happen if the permit were denied, Mrs. Zaver said she and her husband would “be devastated.”
“We would have to file bankruptcy,” she said.