East Ridge city leaders ban extended stay hotels
EAST RIDGE, TN. (WRCB) - East Ridge leaders say extended stay hotels are to blame for an infestation of bugs, drugs and crime.
They voted to ban them from city limits Thursday night, in hopes of cleaning up the city's image.
But for the nine hotels already open, it's still business as usual.
"Bed bugs is one, serious fire code violations is another, and a number of crime and drug problems," describes City Manager Tim Gobble.
Gobble believes extended stay hotels have given East Ridge a bad name.
"Management of a number of our extended stays has not been forthcoming in addressing those issues without city intervention," he says.
Now the city is placing a ban on them.
City leaders voted in favor of an ordinance defining hotels as "temporary sleeping accommodations" that can only be rented for only 30 days at a time.
No new extended stays will be allowed to build in city limits, but the nine already in operation are grandfathered in.
"If they cease to operate as an extended stay at any point in the future for a period of 180 days or longer, they cannot open back up as an extended stay," explains Gobble.
Not everyone is on board.
"I think more what should be done is to help bring them up, as opposed to trying to do away with them," says East Ridge resident Mimi Lowrey, at Thursday night's city council meeting.
Lowrey worries fewer extended stays could mean less sales tax revenue.
"Those people are shopping in grocery stores, restaurant, shopping in East Ridge, which is bring us sales tax money," she says. "If those 800 people were gone we'd lose 800 people worth of sales tax money."
Gobble believes the city will be gaining a better reputation in the long run, which will attract reputable businesses.
"I think they suffer from the reputation that East Ridge has gotten because these extended stay hotels are operating here," he adds.
The new ban goes into effect immediately.
East Ridge is still tangled up in a lawsuit it filed against one of its nine extended stay hotels, trying to shut it down.
East Ridge claims Superior Creek Lodge is a public nuisance.