Commissioner targets two Value Motel buildings

Boldt wants county to consider condemnation

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

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Clark County Commissioner Marc Boldt wants the county to consider condemning and demolishing two buildings at the Value Motel complex.

The one-story buildings are located along Highway 99, east of the two operational Value Motel buildings. The rooms in the buildings are not rented to people.

Boldt said the county has reached out to the property owner, Milton O. Brown, and asked him to clean up the buildings and the old restaurant, which at one point was an Elmer’s, and most recently an Elks Lodge.

Brown hasn’t been receptive, Boldt said.

“Nothing’s getting done, and I can’t even see anything done with the hotel,” Boldt said. “If Milt’s not going to do anything, I’m asking that we explore condemnation.”

Brown did not respond to The Columbian’s request for comment.

County Building Official Jim Muir is working with other staffers to determine whether the county can take action, and if so, what process to follow.

The county has dealt with troublesome and nuisance buildings, but Muir said in his six years on the job, he’s never seen the county pursue demolition.

“We’re typically in the business of building things,” Muir said.

Safety violations

The Washington State Department of Health conducted a safety inspection of the two operational Value Motel buildings in March. Investigators found numerous violations and gave the owners until May 25 to address the deficiencies. The state recently granted a 30-day extension, giving the owners until June 27 to take corrective action.

The two buildings Boldt wants condemned were not inspected by health officials because they aren’t being used by the public.

The doors and windows of those building have been boarded up to prevent entry and meet county abatement requirements, said Marty Snell, Clark County community development director.

As long as the buildings remain secure, the owners have satisfied the requirements, he said.

“There is due process of the property owner and the building owner that we cannot ignore,” Snell said.

But Boldt said people do break into the buildings, which serve as an invitation for trouble.

“They’re not used, they’re dilapidated, and it’s almost an entry point off Highway 99 about bringing crime in,” he said.

The future of the Value Motel buildings remains in the hands of state health officials. If the motel owners fail to address the deficiencies by the June 27 deadline, they could face sanctions including civil fines or revocation of the operating license.

Boldt toured the Value Motel buildings during the March inspection. He’s returned to the motel recently and said he couldn’t see any difference from his first visit.

“I’ve been out there a couple times, and I can’t see anything done, not at all,” Boldt said. “The carpet seemed a little cleaner, but nothing’s been done in the wood structure or stairwells that I saw. I wanted to see something changed, and I didn’t.”

“It’s beyond terrible,” he said recently. “It’s the slum of Highway 99.”

Marissa Harshman: 360-735-4546 or marissa.harshman@columbian.com. Columbian reporter Stephanie Rice contributed to this story.