Saturday December 29, 2012

KEITH WHITCOMB JR.

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- The town is seeking an injunction from the local Superior Court to enforce what it says are 97 building code violations at a local motel.

Town official Kevin Goodhue conducted a "fire and life safety inspection" at the Kirkside Motel on Main Street on June 24, 2011, according to a complaint filed earlier this month in Bennington Superior Court Civil Division.

Goodhue found the building was unsafe because of 97 various building, safety, and fire code violations, most of them regarding carbon monoxide detectors and the grounding of electrical outlets.

According to the complaint, Goodhue, who is the town's building inspector, fire marshal, and code enforcement officer, mailed a copy of his findings on June 27, 2011 to Patricia A. Soto, who owns the Kirkside Motel and is named as a defendant.

Goodhue sent another letter to Soto more than a year later, on July 20, 2012, asking Soto to contact him. The complaint alleges that Goodhue did not receive a response from Soto, nor did he receive a response when he sent her a notice of violation on Aug. 23, 2012.

The town's attorney, Patrick J. Bernal of the firm Witten, Woolmington, and Campbell, wrote that Soto did not file an appeal against the notice and the issues identified have not been addressed. The town contends that the building remains in violation of the building code and presents "a public nuisance."

It requests that the court issue a preliminary and permanent injunction requiring Soto to bring the property into compliance with the building code and keep it in compliance as well as pay civil fines of $200 per day for each day of violation of the building code.

Court records indicate Soto is being represented by Bennington attorney Robert E. Cummings, of the firm Cummings and Dailey. A response to the complaint has not yet been filed. Calls to Cummings' office were not returned Friday and attempts to reach Soto were not successful.

In addition to the carbon monoxide detectors and electrical grounds, the notice of violation found that a number of fire extinguishers needed to be inspected. It also required a few rooms have larger windows put in so a person could escape through them should the need arise. According to the notice, the sprinkler and fire alarm systems also needed inspecting and some emergency lights needed to be replaced.