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Hotel-motel ordinance now in effect

Current occupants have 60 days to leave

By Bert Lehman

After a one-month delay, the Clintonville City Council passed a hotel/motel ordinance that limits the occupancy of an individual at a hotel or motel in the city to 60 days within a six-month period.

The second reading was passed at the council’s Nov. 14 meeting, so the ordinance is now in effect.

The first reading of the ordinance was passed at the council’s Sept. 12 meeting. The second reading of the ordinance was originally set for the Oct. 10 council meeting, but was taken off the agenda.

At the Oct. 12 council meeting, several people spoke out against the ordinance during public comments. Among those who spoke were a motel owner, as well as an individual who currently lives at a motel.

On Oct. 23, the Clintonville Tribune-Gazette asked City Administrator Caz Muske why the second reading was removed from the agenda. She responded via email, “We have a few details with the permitting process that we are confirming. We plan to bring the ordinance back for the second reading at the November Council Meeting.”

Along with approving the second reading of the ordinance, the council also approved a $75 annual licensing permit fee for hotels and motels.

New ordinance

According to the ordinance, the ordinance is needed because the city and the Clintonville Police Department have determined that some hotels and motels within the city “have accounted for an excessive number of police and emergency calls for vagrancy, drug activity, disturbances, and disorderly conduct disturbances.”

The ordinance requires owners and operators of motels and hotels in the city to obtain a permit to operate such a business. The ordinance also allows the police department to impose penalties on motels and hotels for inappropriate activities.

The permits required will be valid for one year from July 1 through June 30. The permits will need to be renewed annually. Permit applications woll be due each April 15, along with the applicable permit fee.

One of the main provisions of the ordinance states that no person can rent a room or stay or sleep at any permitted motel or hotel in the city in excess of 60 days within a six-month period. A violation to this provision “constitutes independent grounds for revocation of a permit.

Further, this provision is cumulative between all hotels/motels within the city, so that the stays at one are added to any other location.”

Finance meeting

At the Nov. 13 Clintonville Finance and Personnel Committee meeting, Ald. Tammy Strey-Hirt asked about the residents who currently live at a motel in the city, who spoke at the October council meeting.

Muske told the committee that the city has had discussions with the owners of the motel.

Clintonville Police Chief Craig Freitag said the way the ordinance is written is how the city is going to move forward. He acknowledged that the city received some requests that were presented to the mayor.

“I think we’re unified in our answer,” Freitag said. “We’re not going to allow it.”

He said one of the requests was for an onsite manager to be allowed, but added that two of the three hotel/motels in Clintonville already have onsite managers.

“We’re advocating for that (onsite managers), we think that’s a good thing, but they just wanted more onsite managers,” Freitag said.

Muske said the city had conversations with the hotel and motel owners, and asked them if they wanted to retrofit their property into an apartment complex. If so, Muske said the city would help them navigate the building inspection process to accomplish that. The other option would be to run the property as a proper motel according to statutes.

Some looked into retrofitting as an apartment complex, but ultimately decided to keep it as a hotel/motel, Muske said.

Council meeting

Ald. Brandon Braden asked when the 60 days begins for those currently living in hotels or motels in the city.

Muske said it would go into effect when the ordinance is approved. She added that discussions have taken place between herself, Freitag, Clintonville City Attorney Keith Steckbauer, and hotel and motel owners in the city.

“They’ve (owners) already started the process. Discussions have already been initiated,” Muske said. “I can say they’ve been working with their long-term tenants to find some sort of place.”

Freitag agreed that the 60 days would start when the ordinance is passed, not when a tenant originally moved into a hotel or motel in the city.
Braden said he was concerned because 60 days into the future would be the middle of winter.

“And there’s a lot of people that may be affected,” Braden said. “I’m wondering if there’s a way, if we approve this tonight, that we can make it go into effect so that there’s a little more time for a transition period.”

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