Thursday, 05 April 2018 12:23

Complaint, consent order could lead to changes at Carolina Inn

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A complaint will be filed in Halifax County Superior Court Friday which sets the stage for a consent order to be signed requiring improvements at the Carolina Inn on Jackson Street.

Those improvements have the potential to turn the establishment back to a motel rather than a flophouse as its use is generally viewed now.

A companion chart contained in the complaint shows 49 calls the Roanoke Rapids Police Department has responded to since 2014.

Those 49 are only a fraction of the calls the police department has responded to, Chief Chuck Hasty said.

Those calls included in the complaint include the following:
Eleven for assaults

One for prostitution

Five for intoxicated persons

Four for loud noise or music

Two stabbings

Eight disturbances

Six for fighting

Six for controlled substances

Two for communicating threats

One for assault with a deadly weapon

One for a shooting

One for indecent exposure

One of the fights also included an assault on a government official and one of the stabbing calls involved an intoxicated person. One of the controlled substances complaints included an overdose while another controlled substance call involved the use of threats.

One of the disturbance calls was based on a shots fired complaint.

Since 2012 there have been a total of 981 calls to the Carolina Inn, which include a 2012 homicide, Hasty said Wednesday.

In January Hasty sent a letter to Josh Batten, assistant special agent in charge at North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement requesting assistance on a public nuisance action. “Criminal activities at this address include murder, gunfire, stabbings, fights, assaults, illegal drug use/sales, prostitution, disorderly conduct and loud noise.

“There is also a public health concern with pests, sanitary conditions, trash, plumbing issues and other life safety issues that we are currently working with the planning, public works, fire department and Halifax County Health Department.”

Said Hasty in the letter: “Traditional police methods have not solved the problems and calls for service relating to violent crimes have recently escalated. Roanoke Rapids Police Department and local residents are increasingly concerned about the disruptive and illegal activities occurring at this location.”

Batten declined comment Wednesday because the complaint has not been filed.

 

Contents of complaint

In the complaint, City Attorney Gilbert Chichester on behalf of the city and the state of North Carolina who are the plaintiffs in the case, wrote “the property is a tenement that is occupied by random parties and habituates.”

The complaint says Nilesh Patel and Darshan Enterprises for a considerable period of time before the filing of the complaint has been established, continued, maintained, owned and leased the Carolina Inn “as a place for the purpose of illegal possession of controlled substances as defined in the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act.”

Patel and Darshan Enterprise have owned the establishment since 2009.

The property, the plaintiffs argue, has been run as a place where these repeated acts “constitute a breach of the peace, included, but not limited to affrays, assaults inflicting serious injuries, shots fired, robberies, loud, abusive and profane language, assaults on females, assaults on law enforcement officers and drunk and disruptive behavior.”

The plaintiffs believe, the complaint says, the establishment “has a general reputation among citizens in the community and among the law enforcement community as a public nuisance … and as a place where numerous unlawful activities have taken place and where police services are repeatedly needed.”

The premises, the plaintiff states,“has been operated in such a manner as to make said place indecent, disgraceful and intolerable for residents living nearby and the general public traveling the public streets adjacent to said premises either as pedestrians or in motor vehicles. And unless said nuisance is abated, these citizens will be subjected to the intolerable and dangerous conditions and illegal activity upon said property.”

 

Hasty letter and affidavit

In a letter sent to Patel on February 21, Hasty wrote a similar letter was sent in January of 2012. “In 2017, the calls for service at the property almost doubled from the previous year. You have been previously notified that your property was identified as a nuisance and would be the subject of a nuisance abatement action if these problems persisted.”

In the letter Hasty requested a March 22 meeting with the police department and ALE to discuss the future lawful use of the property.

A similar letter was sent to D.M. Daraji, the manager of the property.

In his affidavit, Hasty noted on March 6 he served Patel and Darshan Enterprise with a notice “the property was being used in a manner that could be illegal (under North Carolina statutes).”

Hasty stated the illegal activities which have occurred at the establishment and noted Patel has maintained a general reputation for being an absentee landlord and residing in another state.”

He said Patel has been unable to police his own property “and allows nuisance activity to occur.”

Hasty said he has observed on the property drug dealers, drug users, women with reputations as prostitutes, fights and weapons.

“I have encountered residents of the property with weapons on their person,” he wrote. “They have a reputation to be violent with law enforcement. Many of the calls for service for the property come from citizens within the community who are afraid of the patrons of the property.”

The chief wrote, “I have personally observed crack cocaine and marijuana on the property when my officers have conducted controlled substances arrests. This property is among the worst in the city limits of Roanoke Rapids and we do not have a week that goes by where officers do not respond to calls for service at the property or we receive complaints from citizens in the community.”

Hasty concluded the affidavit saying, “Based upon my personal experience at the property, reports from other officers who have personally responded to calls at the property, my training and reports from neighbors … I feel it is not safe for any law enforcement officer to respond to a call for service at the property without exposure to inordinate and undue danger.”

 

Solutions

In his report to council Tuesday, City Manager Joseph Scherer said the city attorney, police chief and state enforcement officials met with owners of Carolina Inn.

The parties signed an agreement the owners must improve and maintain the physical property, improve security and operate the facility as a motel instead of a boarding house. “We feel this will help improve the living conditions there and drastically reduce the number of incidents the police department responds to there,” Scherer said in his report.

Chichester said Wednesday he will appear in superior court later this month to have the consent judgment and final order of abatement signed by a judge.

“Defendants Darshan Enterprise and Nishel Patel assert that prior to the issuance of this consent judgment and order of abatement, they have already taken some steps to address the plaintiff’s concerns but still consent to the entry of this order,” Chichester wrote in the document.

Within 90 days of entry of the order, Darshan Enterprise must consent to a full inspection of the property by the city fire marshal or chief building inspector for the city, along with the county health department, to determine compliance with the state building code and other applicable local ordinances and state regulations.

As long as a motel or other lodging facility is operated on the property the current or future owners must do the following:

Require all guests to present a photograph form of government issued ID at time of check-in

Require all guests to present a valid credit card bearing the same name on the government ID which provides a security deposit on the room

Require all registered guests to complete a registration card with information such as full name, home address, vehicle license plate information, vehicle description, time of arrival and room number

Keep a hotel guest registry available for inspection at the request of any law enforcement officer

Require registered stay for no less than 24 hours with a maximum stay of 60 consecutive nights unless a legitimate contracting, construction or similar business from out of town is working in Halifax County or the city approves such other stay

Issue parking permits to be displayed for all vehicles of registered guests. Vehicles which do not have a required permit will be towed at owner’s expense

Install a minimum of 16 surveillance cameras

Install and maintain exterior lights on each side and back of the property to ensure parking lots are well lit and easily visible during nighttime hours. New lighting must be consistent with city code enforcement laws

Employ at least one on-site licensed security guard on the property Friday and Saturday nights. The security personnel must be approved by the police chief and the hours of operation shall be no less than from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Maintain a room rate of at least $35 per night for a guest with a security deposit securing the room

Require all guests to sign a written statement advising they read all the rules set forth

In addition to being required to trespass all known persons engaging in criminal activities, the owners must have proper signage advising the motel information and name and redesign the landscaping, maintain it and keep up with all shrubs, bushes and grass.

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