Travel Inn closed for health violations

Published 9:26 am Friday, April 21, 2017

The Virginia Department of Health has revoked the operating permit for the Travel Inn motel, located behind the McDonald’s on Armory Drive in Franklin, citing numerous health code violations. According to Dr. Christopher Wilson, director of the VDH’s Western Tidewater Health District, notice of the alleged violations was first provided to the hotel’s owner, Nicketan Mehta of NIRVI Corporation, in July of 2016 following multiple inspections last June, with subsequent inspections and notification of the department’s intent to revoke their permit in September 2016 and February 2017. VDH representatives also met with Mehta to discuss the violations before issuing a final notice of revocation on March 30, which took effect on April 14.

The health code violations the VDH is alleging include failure to provide for general sanitation and the cleanliness and good repair of the facilities, equipment, fixtures and furnishings on the premises of the hotel; failure to provide properly constructed walls and ceilings that are smooth, easily cleaned and in good repair; failure to provide room equipment, including draperies, curtains, carpets and other floor materials that are clean, free of dust, dirt, vermin and other contaminants, and are in good order and repair; failure to provide box springs, mattresses, bedding and blankets that are clean, laundered and in good repair; failure to provide toilets, lavatories and bath facilities that are in a clean and sanitary condition and are in good repair; failure to provide bathroom floors, walls and ceilings with materials that are smooth, easily cleanable and impervious to water; and failure to provide insect control measures to prevent pest infestations in the rooms of the hotel.

“As we did in this situation, when the district’s Environmental Health Team finds issues during an inspection that may violate the hotel regulations, those findings are documented and the owner is notified,” Wilson said. “The goal is to work in collaboration with the hotel owner to correct any alleged violations in a timely manner.

“When alleged violations remain uncorrected, the health district follows an administrative process outlined in the Code of Virginia governing hotel operations in a clean and safe manner. This process includes additional violation notices, action plans, conferences and permit revocation when necessary.”

Though not cited in the department’s reasons for closing the hotel, the Travel Inn has also been the site of several criminal incidents according to Capt. Tim Whitt, spokesman for the Franklin City Police Department, including reports of sexual assaults and domestic violence.

“We’ve been up there numerous times and made several arrests,” Whitt said, though he added that no arrests had been made at the hotel within the past week or two.

Wilson said that as of the district Environmental Health Team’s latest visit on Monday, April 17, it appeared that the facility was no longer operating and that renovation work had begun. The Tidewater News also observed renovation work on Friday, as well as a sign informing the public that the hotel was under new management.

Wilson added that Mehta operated the business under the name NIRVI Corporation, whose address the VDH had on file as being in Fredricksburg. However, the only address the Virginia State Corporations Commission had on file for the business was 1660 Armory Drive, Franklin, which is the address of the hotel. A senior office technician with the SCC also said that the company was officially terminated as of March 31 of this year for failure to pay its 2016 assessment and a late penalty. The SCC sent out an initial notice to the company regarding its unpaid $100 assessment fee in September and another notice in December informing the company of the additional $10 late charge.

Wilson said that it is possible that Mehta used different business addresses when completing his applications with different agencies, which would explain the discrepancy. He added that he has been corresponding with Mehta by phone and in-person at various Health Department locations, as well as through the management present on-site at the hotel, and via mail to the Fredricksburg mailing address.

Mehta said that he expects the necessary renovations to be complete by June. He did not discuss the discrepancy in addresses or the alleged unpaid assessment fees to the SCC by press time.