Wednesday, March 01, 2000

Franklin motel called firetrap, ordered closed

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — A Franklin motel that caters to truckers was ordered shut down by noon Thursday after state fire marshals said the building was a firetrap.

        After more than a year of wrangling with owner Casey Sheth over fire code violations, state fire marshals Tuesday sought a temporary restraining order to bar the Royal Inn from operating.

        State officials also said Mr. Sheth was operating the 45-room motel on Franklin-Lebanon Road for more than a year without a license, which he couldn't obtain because of the fire code violations.

        “There's good reason to have some legitimate concern for patrons of the motel,” Judge P. Daniel Fedders, of Warren County Common Pleas Court, said.

        In November 1998, state fire inspectors found missing fire doors, an electrical panel that was covered by paneling, and a fire alarm system that was installed without a permit and never tested.

        William Gunter Jr., a Springboro construction consultant hired by Mr. Sheth, testified Tuesday that fire doors were installed, the electrical panel was uncovered and the fire alarm system worked.

        Four occupants will be displaced by the judge's order, said Mr. Sheth.

        He said he doesn't plan to appeal the order because he is in the process of selling the property to a Nashville firm that plans to build a truck stop there.

        He said he has spent close to $100,000 making improvements to the building in the four years he has owned it.


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