Wareham motel owner told to comply with Board of Health regulations

Aug 3, 2017

After the Board of Health introduced regulations limiting stays two years ago, the owner of a Wareham motel said Wednesday those rules may increase homelessness.

“You said you don’t want to create homelessness,” said Tom Melanson, owner of the Village Motel at 2739 Cranberry Highway. “You’re contradicting yourself, to me.”

Melanson spoke to board members at their meeting where he was asked to address several violations of the town’s motel regulations, which took effect in 2015. That year, the board imposed a 21-day limit on how long a guest can remain in a motel or hotel room, a 90-day limit on stays in efficiency units and it required motel and hotel owners to provide certain amenities, such as maid service and fresh linens and towels.

Health Inspector Patrick MacDonald said after an inspection he found that Melanson had guests staying longer than allowed and wasn’t providing services required.

Melanson said he purchased the motel in April of this year, planning to operate it exactly how the previous had, as a rooming house of sorts.

“It’s easy living for low-income people, basically,” said Melanson. “I was thinking of retiring there myself with the cost of living the way it is now.”

Melanson, a New Bedford resident, said the previous owner failed to inform him about the regulations.

Upon learning that guests would be forced out if Melanson fails to comply, the motel’s property manger, Dan Rodriguez, who also attended the meeting, asked what would happen if they say “no.”

“If people don’t want to leave after 21 days, what am I going to do?” said Rodriguez.

The answer, according to MacDonald, was to start the eviction process.

“We don’t want to be cruel to people, but they need decent, appropriate housing,” said board member Catherine Phinney.

Chair Dr. Amy Weigandt noted there are resources available for those looking for housing, either through the Wareham Housing Authority or the state. She said any guest who begins that process in earnest will not be asked to leave right away.

Looking ahead, Melanson was told to return with a plan for making that transition at the board’s September meeting. Otherwise, there will be “hefty fines,” according to Weigandt.