Whitehall City Council appears to have no reservations about an ordinance that would have its one hotel and six motels operating under a new set of safety and sanitation regulations.
Paul Wenning, of the Franklin County Board of Health, along with Whitehall Service Director Ray Ogden, briefed council on the legislation Sept. 11.
The ordinance is slated to receive its third reading before possible adoption on Sept.17.
The model ordinance has been successfully adopted and enforced in Grove City and Hilliard, and was designed in Dayton and Montgomery County. The ordinance was challenged in court in Grove City by one owner, but the judge threw the case out, upholding the ordinance.
The language for state licensing is vague, and basically states that a room must have a bed and the sheets must be white. It does not address cleanliness.
Wenning said the Ramada Inn at Broad Street and Hamilton Road and the Homestead Motel on Main Street have the least problems in Whitehall, and are in good shape.
Hotels and motels make their revenue from renting to guests for extended stays, but they must leave after 30 days, since they are not defined as boarding houses.
"Rooms must be cleaned and changed every day in order to be sure a guest has not moved in, and is not doing things that are not permitted such as cooking or illegal activity," said Wenning.
If someone has a communicable disease, and the room is not properly cleaned and sanitized, the next person can become ill just by touching where the previous person has touched, Wenning said. He added that it is important to educate the housekeeping staff on proper cleaning habits.
Whitehall will be able to do two unannounced inspections a year, and will have to re-inspect when there are problems to correct.
The ordinance would go into effect January 1, giving the establishments time to complete the application process. Each will be sent a copy of the ordinance, explanation and a permit application.
After the application is submitted the first inspection will begin.
Council President Brent Howard suggested each room be inspected on the first round. They will be given a time period to correct problems. Some will require immediate attention, and others, like a hole in the wall, will be allotted more time, probably 30 days.
If all is correct at the reinspection, there will be another inspection later in the year.
However, if code officers have to keep going back, it will get costly, but not for the city.
The annual permit application fee will be $300 for each establishment with 100 rooms or less, plus an additional $2 per room for each room over 100. There will also be a re-inspection fee each time the city has to return to repeat.
Councilman Jim Graham made it clear that he does not want to see this cost the city any money, therefore, all costs will be incurred by the hotel/motels.
Wenning offered that the city can pay the fees to the health department to execute the inspections, or he will train the service director. Also, he said that he would be glad to meet and train each facility manager/owner and staff member on how to properly maintain the properties.
He also noted that with two inspections a year, there is less tendency to backslide. He also suggested that the fire inspections be done at the same time so that there are always two pairs of eyes, as well as making it less of an inconvenience for management.
In other business, Fire Chief Tim Tilton said that all chiefs from the Metropolitan Emergency Consortium Center (MECC) will be meeting with Creekside Properties in Gahanna to consider a lease option for space in the new downtown development.
The current facility is getting too small, and growth options are necessary. He noted that the price is reasonable in the secure building, and they would also be monitoring all the property, which would generate additional income.
Other possibilities were explored at the airport, Defense Supply Construction Columbus and the fire marshal’s office, but they were not feasible.
The Columbus and Ohio River Railroad Company is planning to do repair work on Yearling Road at the tracks in mid-October, according to Councilman Leo Knoblauch.
Councilwoman Leslie LaCorte asked for an update on the Woodcliff Condominium and Swim Land properties.
Ogden said that he couldn’t discuss Woodcliff since it is headed to court in October, and that the owners of Swim Land had been issued an order to tear down the building.
He noted that City Attorney Cheryl Nester has not given him any recent updates.
LaCorte said that she wants an update from the city attorney for the next meeting on Sept. 17. That meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m.