HOLLAND, MICH. - There is a legal battle in Holland over new city rules meant to crack down on troubled motels.
You might recall our WZZM 13 Watchdog investigation a few years ago involving the Economy Inn. The city shut it down for several safety violations.
It eventually reopened, but an attorney for the motel is now claiming a newly adopted ordinance violates the U.S. Constitution. Right now, the Economy Inn is open to the public, but manager Jaimin Patel worries a new city ordinance could force him to close his doors in the future.
It wouldn't be the first time, either.
"That's not right," says Patel, who is also a co-owner of the Economy Inn.
Patel's attorney has filed a lawsuit against the city. He tells the 13 Watchdog team an ordinance, passed this summer, violates a business' right to due process under the 14th Ammendment. He says the city can now immediately shut down a motel for certain violations before a public hearing is held.
"I never believe in a lawsuit, but I hope the city of Holland can work with me that's all I expected," Patel told WZZM 13.
We asked Patel if he admits that he's had problems in the past with city violations.
"No, absolutely not because that's a small violation," Patel said.
However previously, the 13 Watchdog team reported the motel had been cited for scalding hot shower water and non-working smoke detectors. The city has shut down both the Economy Inn and neighboring, Wooden Shoe Motel, because of violations over the past few years.
"They (the city) are targeting the two small people, we are like independent people," Patel said.
We wanted to get a response from Holland city leaders about the case, but a city spokeswoman told us they're not going to comment because it's a pending lawsuit.
Patel says he's spent $120,000 on repairs over the past two years. He says if his business is closed, he can't pay for improvements.
"If you don't make no money, how can you pay your bill?," Patel said.
Patel contends the legal battle is not about winning money, but rather he says he's fighting for his rights as a businessman.
"I don't want no money from the Holland city," Patel said. "We're just protesting."
Patel's attorney tells us there are more traditional ways cities can shut down a motel without violating the constitution. He says they can file a nuisance case with the courts and ask a judge for a temporary restraining order.
He says he filed an injunction asking a judge to put a hold on Holland's city ordinance until a decision can be made at trial.
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