First Budgetel Eviction Hearing Held on Monday
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF)-The first hearing in the Budgetel Eviction Case was held this afternoon at the Hamilton County Courthouse.
This case is to determine whether or not District Attorney Coty Wamp’s Petition of a Nuisance will be upheld, permanently shutting down the Budgetel Inn and Suites Motel.
The hearing was held In front of a packed gallery, mostly of those who were evicted from the Budgetel on November 16.
Coty Wamp’s line of questioning focused on the amount and the nature of the over 2,000 calls that East Ridge first responders received over the past three years.
One exchange between Wamp and East Ridge Assistant Police Chief Josh Creel went as Wamp asked, “Were there calls about rapes?”
Creel responded, “Yes.”
“Were there calls about thefts?”
“Were there calls about sex offenders?”
Meanwhile the defense questioned if just stating the raw number of calls paints a full picture of the situation. We learned that the original statistic of 35 percent of all East Ridge EMS calls originating from the Budgetel was actually 35 percent of all EMS calls from just the 11 hotel properties in East Ridge, not the whole city.
There was also disagreement over the amount of occupants that were living permanently at the Budgetel. Creel said in a review of a hotel log at the Budgetel, which is a document that records who is staying on property, said that only 394 occupants were living there permanently. The defense disputed this by claiming there were over 800 residents at the motel.
There was also a dispute over whether or not building code violations found by East Ridge code inspectors should be permissible evidence in the case. One particular point of conflict was an inspection conducted right after the evictions that found 26 code violations, but the defense pointed out that an earlier inspection in October only caught two violations.
In an exchange between the defense and East Ridge Code Inspector Officer Torrey Holder, the defense asked, “Why didn’t you find any of these violations back on October 3rd when you only found two violations?”
Holder responded, “That’s not what we were there for.”
“What were you there for on October 3rd?”
“October 3rd was the landing between buildings three and four.”
“Didn’t notice any other violations at that time?”
“I wasn’t aware of any other violations at that time.”
The mood of the former residents was one of discontent, as they told News 12 off camera they wanted justice to be served for what they have been through. The next hearing in this case will be held next Monday.