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Residents want motels cleaned up

Talk of new law brings complaints of sex offenders and loud parties

— Resident Craig Thomas, of Brent Street, said he’s still concerned about letting his 19-year-old daughter walk around the area where they live and to work.

“We can’t let her walk down the street to where she works. It just isn’t safe, even for somebody older,” Thomas said.

Debra Valet, of Reber Street, expressed concerned about the dirty conditions of many of the nearby establishments, saying there is trash everywhere. Valet, who grew up on Reber Street, recalled how the hotels were once nice when they were first built.

“I remember having family out of town stay there, they thought it was beautiful,” Valet said. “(Now) it’s attracting the unwantables, unfortunately.”

Magguilli said the building departments and police do frequent checks and that motel owners typically do the bare minimum to meet standard code.

“We can’t simply prohibit motels and hotels in the area. We can’t simply say, ‘You can’t build.’ We also can’t tell these people to get out of business,” Magguilli said.

Only one motel owner spoke before the board, and he supported the new law. Robert Barrera’s family owns Best Value Inn on Central Avenue. He said his father bought the motel in 1962 and they do not take in sex offenders.

“I think there’s more that needs to be done, but in the realm of what you can do, I think it’s good,” Barrera said.

Barrera said he was the reason the moratorium was put in place, when his family decided to buy land and build another hotel.

“The public is speaking and they don’t want more of this. What you’re doing is taking the legal steps that you can take,” Barrera said. “I think you need to listen to what everyone’s saying here.”

The law will now be sent to the Planning Board for review.

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