Denial of business license throws 8 Wood Motel in limbo

Thanks to Detroit Derek for taking me to this super cool neon motel sign in Detroit. http://www.flickr.com/photos/detroitderek/1449123879/

The Ferndale City Council voted Monday to deny a public lodging-house license to the owner of the 8 Wood Motel, marking the second time in as many months officials have moved to deny business permits to the two crime-plagued motels along Eight Mile Road on the city’s southern edge.

And, like his neighbor the Motorama Motel before it, 8 Wood’s owner, Ken Patel, said he’ll exercise his option to request a special hearing before council to plead his case.

Neither Patel, nor his attorney, Rick Patterson, had any comment following council’s action.

Council made its unanimous decision after receiving the recommendation of Police Chief Timothy Collins to deny the license. Collins cited drug dealing, thefts, suspected prostitution and other crimes, and pointed to the April 2015 fatal heroin overdose of a man on Fielding Street, saying that investigators traced the drugs he took to dealers staying at the 8 Wood.

That death spurred a large-scale heroin and fentanyl investigation between Ferndale Police and numerous other jurisdictions, Collins said. Surveillance officers eventually witnessed more than 60 drug transactions from the motel’s parking lot, made arrests and discovered heroin, cocaine and large amounts of cash in a room there, he said.

A police report said the motel was the cite of 71 police calls from 2013 through 2015. A Feb. 3 inspection by Collins, the city’s fire marshal and building officials also uncovered code numerous violations.

“This location is resulting in an unreasonable drain of the limited resources of the police and fire departments, and also constituting a public and private nuisance to the surrounding neighborhood,” Collins wrote Feb. 16 to City Manager April Lynch.

Patterson told council his client was prepared to enact new security measures to keep the motel open, including installing new security cameras, assigning parking spaces by room and requiring visitors to register to park, and training housekeepers to better identify drug paraphernalia and signs of drug use.

“They’ve been a member of the business community for 20 years,” Patterson said. “We’re committed to continuing that and being a good neighbor moving forward.”

Council members said they didn’t like being in the position of revoking business licenses but said they were troubled by Patel’s failure to recognize problems at the 8 Wood since taking over ownership in 1996.

“To me, that reflects competency of management,” council member Dan Martin said.

Patel is no relation to Motorama owner Phil Patel.

Photo by Thomas Hawk

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