A Volusia County government panel has set a deadline for the owner of Budget Inn to fix up the property or face demolition.
The county’s Contractor Licensing and Construction Appeals Board on June 29 gave the run-down motel’s owner, ENY Equity LLC, four weeks to secure permits and begin correcting building-code violations at the Budget Inn, 2801 E. New York Ave., east of DeLand.
“You get ’til July 27th to get the ball rolling,” CLCA Board Chair John Meinelt told attorneys for the company.
The board also denied the owner’s appeal to restore electrical service and water to the Budget Inn, to avoid having the place reopen as housing for low-income residents. Instead, the CLCA would allow only “minimal power,” such as may be needed to operate power tools or equipment.
“We can’t fix the building without these services,” Justin Garcia, co-counsel for the motel’s owner, told the board via Zoom teleconference.
Garcia went on to say his client is ready to rehabilitate the dilapidated property.
“We have a team in place,” he added. “The last three or four months we have been making progress.”
Nevertheless, the board would not consent to the owner’s request.
“If the power gets turned back on, you’d have the same people living there,” Meinelt said.
“You’ve got ’til July 27th to get your ducks in a row,” he said again. “I would like to see that place in its former glory.”
The CLCA hearing capped almost two years of the county’s urging the owner to bring the property into compliance with building regulations. Finally, in May, code-enforcement officials ordered the building closed and the tenants to leave because of unsafe and unsanitary living conditions. Building inspectors had spotted such problems as exposed electric wiring, holes in walls and ceilings, water damage, insect infestation and a lack of smoke detectors.
“Several violations were noticed in both buildings,” county Deputy Building Official Tom Legler said, adding there were some interior changes without building permits. “They actually converted three rooms into apartments.”
Moreover, a wastewater-treatment system on the property was not working properly, according to information released by the county.
Despite the county’s appeals to vacate the building, and despite the cutoff of power on May 23, some people living in the Budget Inn refused to leave.
In addition, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Hotels and Restaurants revoked the Budget Inn’s license on May 31.
On June 6, sheriff’s deputies joined personnel of the county’s Building and Code Administration and Community Assistance department in ordering everyone to leave. The residents, approximately 70, were offered shelter courtesy of The Neighborhood Center of West Volusia and Halifax Urban Ministries.
Most but not all of the remaining residents accepted offers of temporary housing elsewhere. The few who refused were forced to go elsewhere, as the property was posted as a no-trespassing zone.
“Staff is requesting a resolution of condemnation,” Legler said, concluding his report on the Budget Inn.
That resolution was approved unanimously.
Asked how long the work of repairing and restoring the Budget Inn may take, Martin Pedata, co-counsel for the owner, replied, “Probably a year.”
As the clock ticks toward the deadline set by the CLCA, the owner is taking steps to avert the razing of the condemned building. County government spokesman Kevin Captain, in an email response to a query from The Beacon, released a statement attributed to Growth and Resource Management Director Clay Ervin.
“Our staff is working with the owner’s contractor and architect to finalize the plans and scope of work necessary to bring the buildings into compliance. The owner and county staff are aware of the order of the Contractor Licensing and Construction Appeal Board,” the statement reads.