By Beth David, Editor
After the Housing Court sided with the town of Fairhaven in an action against the Huttleston Motel in December, the old motel on Route 6 has closed to the public.
In a judgment issued on 12/2/16, Judge Wilbur Edwards ruled that the motel must stop renting to the public as of January 31.
The signed says “closed,” but the manager and an “elderly gentleman” were still living there on February 1 according to Fairhaven Building Inspector Wayne Fostin and Town Administrator Mark Rees.
“There are no longer any renters living there,” said Mr. Fostin. “But an elderly gentleman and the manager are still left, which puts them in contempt.”
He said town counsel Thomas Crotty would start contempt proceedings immediately.
Mr. Rees said the town would try to get services for the older man.
“The town will try to assist the elderly gentleman to find housing,” said Mr. Rees.
He said the town wants the building closed completely while repairs are done. The owner, Robert Belli, wanted to keep part of the motel open while he performed repairs.
“The owner has been trying to get relief from the court order and we’ve been opposing that,” said Mr. Rees.
The motel leases the property from Gingera LLC, which was dismissed from the suit. The lease ends in January of 2019.
At issue is the condition of the building, which was built around 1947 according to online town records.
Mr. Belli performed a series of repairs without permits on the aging structure. An engineering report found serious problems with it, identifying 36 separate items not in compliance with the Mass. Building Code.
The Court found 14 of them were “crucial to the safety of the Motel and its guests.”
Those included: Significant sagging of the roof framing; exterior walls that are wood framed and show signs of extensive deterioration; wood siding in contact with the earth; electric panels and meters not sufficiently protected from moisture; rotting wood in the boiler room; open holes between the boiler room and guest rooms; cracks in mortar caused by settling of a concrete block; disconnected gutters and downspouts that empty onto the ground next to wood siding.
Unit 9 was immediately deemed uninhabitable due to a hole that Mr. Belli cut in the floor to see below. The hole revealed a significantly sagging floor.
The Court identified nine specific areas to order the entire structure unsafe, including the sagging roof and floors, the boiler room rot, open holes and no fire separation between the boiler room and guest rooms, structural integrity of the northeast corner, and improper roof repairs.
“The Court…has determined that the Motel is unsafe due to structural and other conditions though the most dangerous sections of the structure are the east and north wings,” wrote the Court.
Mr. Belli is not allowed to perform any construction at the site without the “express written authorization” of the building inspector.
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