City of Port Huron Looking To Shut Down Days Inn In Port Huron

In an effort to protect the  City of Port Huron and residents, on Thursday, February 14, City Manager James Freed stated that the city filed with the Circuit Court a Verified Complaint against Port Huron Nights, Inc., the owner of the Days Inn Hotel in Port Huron located on Pine Grove Avenue, located North of the Blue Water Bridge. In the complaint they are seeking an injunction to abate a public nuisance which is  defined as a building or place that is “used for the unlawful manufacture, transporting, sale, keeping for sale, bartering, or furnishing of a controlled substance”. Recently, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the shutting down of a hotel in the City of Ferndale on similar grounds. The statute permits the City to seek an injunction to ban such use at the property, close the facility for one (1) year, remove all of the furniture and fixtures and sell them, and recover the costs and attorney fees incurred in the abatement lawsuit.  According to Freed, the problem with the Days Inn is that its owner and operator have allowed this hotel to become an attractive place for illegal drug activity. The hotel has become a constant source of police calls, including heroin overdoses, disorderly persons, assaults, larcenies, conceal weapon violations, suspicious persons and warrant arrests. In the last two years, there have been over 100 police calls and numerous DTF drug raids, most recently last month. The raids and police calls have disclosed multiple occasions where the hotel rooms were now being used for the sale of illegal narcotics, including methamphetamine, heroin, and crack cocaine. 2 Recently, the City Fire Department and Building Department conducted inspections pursuant to court-ordered administrative warrant which disclosed additional problems. Starting with the electrical issues, there were many violations and safety hazards to the occupants, the public, and first responders. On the exterior of the building there were exposed electrical wires and lighting timers that not only are open to the weather elements but could cause harm being open to the public as well. There was a lot of old wiring hanging under the balconies that maintenance claimed was not working. There were many open distribution panels, boxes and disconnects in many of the storage areas that present a serious fire and safety hazard. In the laundry room, equipment was being powered by extension cords and loose hanging wires. In terms of fire code violations, old abandoned rooms had been converted to storage areas throughout the entire building. Mattresses and furniture are stacked in these rooms creating a heavy fire load and is a danger to the occupants. These rooms were not secured due to the proxy card readers being removed and leaving large holes in the doors. Most of these rooms were not accessible to us because of the amount of storage in these spaces. Many smoke detectors didn’t work when tested and were not secured to the wall, and some were past their service date. In the utility/storage rooms, gas cans, mowers and snow blowers – in addition to mattresses and furniture – create a high fire load. In the lobby area there are 5 -gallon buckets of paint adjacent to the main exit and an LPG grill in the seating area blocking an exit by the vending machines. There appears to be several permanent residents in the rooms. These initial findings pose serious fire hazards.  After the papers are filed the owner will then have twenty-one (21) days to respond to the allegations in the Complaint, and then we will proceed with a Motion seeking a ruling from the Court.  Community Action Agency has been asked to assist by assign case workers to  families who appear to be living in the establishment full time, to help get them the resources they need to relocate. The Community Action Agency is the local group that handles the federal grants for the Rapid Rehousing Program funding.