Townsend motel shut down: City inspectors cite Family Inns for being unsafe
By Iva Butler | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Family Inns of America in Townsend was shut down as unsafe for habitation Friday afternoon by Townsend Police Chief Ronnie Suttles and Building Official Andy Morton.
The 40-unit motel, located at 7239 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway, Townsend, was built in the late 1980s, Suttles said.
“Over the last three years the call log of complaints there got astronomical,” Suttles said.
Complaints came in from visitors who stayed there to the Blount County Health Department, Townsend Visitors Center, Blount County Chamber of Commerce ... “basically every entity around,” he said.
Suttles and Morton, along with two fire marshals from the state of Tennessee, inspected the motel Tuesday morning.
“Blount County Health Department was requested to attend and did not respond,” Suttles said.
“We found the place was not fit for habitation,” he said after the inspection.
The roof was leaking like a sieve and mold was found in at least half of the rooms.
Family Inns Manager Tony Brown was notified Wednesday that he had 24 hours to have people staying at the motel vacate the rooms.
At 1 p.m. Friday, Suttles, Morton, Townsend police officer Tony Rayburn and Townsend maintenance man Glenn McCampbell came to shut the operation down.
They posted signs on orange cones in the driveways leading into the property, on the front doors and on the door of each room. The signs state, “This structure is unsafe and its occupancy has been prohibited by the building official — Emergency Police Order.”
The myriad problems included mold on walls, curtains, lamp shades and floors in some rooms, electrical cords that are not permitted in the laundry room, water leaks, unplugged smoke detectors and holes in doors.
A fire escape walk that was supposed to be clear had chairs and cabinets blocking half of the way out.
The sheetrock on a wall that was covered in black mold Tuesday morning had been completely removed, leaving bare concrete blocks behind, Morton said.
A nearby Dumpster was full of discarded items, with ruined mattresses propped up on the outside. Suttles and Morton said the material had been removed since their inspection.
“The roof will have to be stripped off and redone first,” Morton said.
The Family Inns maintenance manager arrived after the Townsend officials came to close down the motel Friday.
He was told that workmen will be allowed in to make repairs, but no one can stay at the motel.
The man said he has breathing masks and suits needed to wear while removing the invading mold.
He was told “until the problems are rectified the motel will remain closed,” Suttles said.
“It’s structurally sound. It all started with the roof. There are a lot of little things wrong,” Morton said.
“This is the only good, big motel we’ve got on the river,” Suttles said.
Before the motel can be reopened, “it will have to be inspected just like a new building,” Morton said.
It took Townsend officials until 5:15 p.m. to get the motel manager removed from the premises.
The Family Inns of America chain is owned by Ken Seaton of Knoxville and Pigeon Forge.