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Judge relents, lets Budgetel owners clean, make minor fixes to reopen Jan. 11

Costco worker Hortense McCollum and her husband, James, tell about getting thrown out of their room though neither is charged by D.A. Coty Wamp with a crime. (Photo David Tulis)
Amish Patel, right, talks with Chris Clem, the attorney who represents Budgetel of East Ridge in proceedings that shut down the extended stay hotel with as many as 800 residents thrown homeless into the street without probable cause. (Photo David Tulis)

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., Dec. 12, 2022 — Jan. 11 is the target date to reopen Budgetel of East Ridge, with Patel contractors getting immediate access to the property to start tidying up the place after criminal court judge Boyd Patterson closed the extended-stay inn as a public nuisance.

By David Tulis / NoogaRadio Network

His Nov. 14 order threw as many as 800 people into the streets, causing new stress upon local homeless support services.

Steven Moore, deputy district attorney, meets with attorney Chris Clem, representing Amish Patel, owner of Budgetel, before Judge Patterson today to review a Dec. 6 order modifying his initial shutdown decree. Judge Patterson says he will redact the order tonight and file it with the clerk Tuesday.

Little structural work is needed, and Building 1 may be ready early January.

A small window of time is opening for renters such as Hortense McCollum and her husband, James, to get belongings left behind in the sudden command by police to vacate before daybreak Nov. 16. If they don’t hear of the availability, they will have to arrange with Budgetel to obtain valuables that Budgetel is charged with putting into storage.

The judge insists than an East Ridge ordinance limiting stays in such motels to 120 days be obeyed, though there was hearing confusion over whether the Budgetrl was exempt as having been grandfathered in under the rule. Judge Patterson says that a $500-per-day fine will apply upon the hotel if anyone overstays; it’s not clear where that authority comes from.

Mr. Clem says poor people at Budgetel have expressed concern about a “no cash” rule imposed by the court, giving Judge Patterson a heads-up on an issue that will come into view once members of the public can again live at Budgetel. 

The public nuisance law is aimed at whorehouses, drug houses and gang houses. Mr. Moore said the inn can be brought within the general terms of the law, and so is being used to abate the nuisance of Budgetel, as evidenced by long records of police, EMT and fire engine calls. 

Miss Wamp the district attorney could have met with the Patels prior to throwing innocent people out into the cold; she could have said, “I have a nuisance petition drafted, and if you don’t fix the problems of drug dealings, fights and disturbances in 45 days, I am moving to shut you down.” That was not done.

Prosecutor Wamp has denied due process to 149 clients of attorney Charles Wright, who sought to intervene in the case, and to hundreds of others. Her actions are similar to those of Gov. Bill Lee in his fraudulent state of emergency. Gov. Lee put the entire state’s population under house arrest without individual cause per each citizen, a type of action more common in totalitarian countries than in supposedly free ones.

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