The owner of the tornado damaged Liberty Motel wants to reopen his business 4101 Keats Drive in Harrison Twp. but feels he is receiving heavy opposition from neighbors and the township trustees. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Ty Greenlees
Photo: Ty Greenlees

Tornado-damaged motel on I-75 plans repairs, neighbors want it closed

The owner of the Liberty Motel — a longtime hot-spot for police activity visible from Interstate 75 in Harrison Twp. — said he plans to rebuild after tornado damage, despite the wishes of local officials and many of the motel’s neighbors.

Part of the building was damaged during the Memorial Day tornado outbreak. Roof damage and more rendered 10 of the motel’s rooms inoperable. A lack of water and electricity to the rest of the facility closed the motel for about two weeks.

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Electricity and water have been restored, owner Balbir Jassal said, and the motel is renting out the approximately 40 rooms that remain structurally sound. He has applied for a building permit to repair the rest of the rooms soon.

Jassal said he’s received $40,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and will apply for more assistance to cover the $110,000 damage the motel sustained. FEMA is unable to verify or comment on how much money an individual received.

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Several of the Liberty Motel’s neighbors said they would prefer it if the motel would be condemned.

Living next to the motel is “nerve-wracking,” nearby resident Greg Fuduloff said. “You don’t know what the heck the night is going to bring.”

Fuduloff said that he and his neighbors have had motel visitors knock on their doors at all hours of the night, asking for money or cigarettes. Neighbors passed petitions last summer asking to close the Liberty Motel, he said.

“The community here has been trying to get this place shut down for 20 years,” he said. “It shouldn’t be here. It’s been here long enough.”

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Harrison Twp. Administrator Kris McClintick said that Liberty Motel operated legally for many years, but over the past five years the township has been looking into classifying it as a nuisance.

“We at Harrison Twp., we try to treat every business fairly,” McClintick said. “When you have a business that gets the kind of calls that that business gets, then we do look into those claims.”

McClintick said that despite the number of police calls regarding the hotel, Harrison Twp. has not been able to submit enough evidence for the Montgomery County prosecutor to proceed with the nuisance charge.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office has received 489 calls regarding the Liberty Motel in the 541 days since the start of 2018. Most of those calls relate to complaints about drugs or suspicious people.

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“(It’s) far more than any other hotel we deal with in any of our policing areas,” said Sheriff’s Office Maj. Matt Haines, noting that number doesn’t include calls from neighbors complaining about the nearby activities of motel guests.

Most arrests are for “drug charges, overdoses, rapes,” Haines said. “We recover a lot of stolen vehicles out there.”

Jassal said that deputies’ visits to Liberty Motel are often unwarranted.

“There is no reason for the sheriffs to be here. There is no illegal activity going on here,” Jassal said.

When deputies show up at the motel, they run the license plates of guests and arrest them for previous violations, Jassal said, not for crimes that take place at the business.

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The Dayton Daily News has previously reported on an assault at Liberty Motel in 2016, and a 2017 case where a man was found with a stab wound in the motel’s parking lot.

Jassal said that both he and his customers have been the targets of unfair practices by Harrison Twp. leaders.

“I am being harassed and I am being discriminated against because of my nationality,” Jassal said.

Haines said Jassal’s statement is “outrageous and an unfair characterization of what’s really happening. Nobody is harassing anybody out there.”

“I think the number of calls for service speak for themselves,” Haines said.

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