Brownwood City Council members approved a settlement Tuesday with LT Hospitality, the owner of Budget Inn & Suites, 515 E. Commerce, that ends 35th District Court litigation related to civil penalties and city code violations.
LT Hospitality, which was contesting a $97,000 penalty the city had assessed for code violations, will instead pay the city $2,000 in attorney’s fees and will correct violations as part of the settlement.
In May 2016, the city’s Building and Standards Commission entered an administrative enforcement order alleging several violations of city code and assessing the $97,000 penalties. The city initially gave LT Hospitality until July 2016 to complete or show significant progress on an asbestos survey, asbestos abatement, electrical repair, plumbing repair, completed fire alarm system and various room renovations including carpeting, paint, plumbing, light fixtures and bedding.
The company appealed the administrative enforcement order, arguing the penalties were excessively large. The code violations occurred in unoccupied sections of the motel which were not being used and did not have utilities connected, the company argued.
The 35th District Court agreed with the city upheld the order. The company filed a motion for a new trial, which had been granted.
According to the settlement, which was released by City Attorney Pat Chesser’s office:
• LT Hospitality will remove all waste, rubbish and debris from the west and south structures and board the structures within 90 days of the settlement agreement.
• The company acknowledges those structures are not fit for human habitation and may not be used in any way.
• The company will face $10,000 in civil penalties if it violates the agreement and the new administrative order that will be entered by the Building and Standards Commission confirming the agreement.
LT Hospitality will drop the appeal of the case and vacate a May 2016 administrative order and replace it with the new order.
Council members approved the settlement after emerging from a lengthy executive session. When Mayor Stephen Haynes asked for a motion, several moments passed before Mayor Pro Tem Draco Miller made the motion, which was seconded and unanimously approved.
“Like all legal settlements, nobody is particularly happy about it,” Haynes said.