Tenants of Far West Motel fear sudden eviction

May 3 2011 - 10:12am

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NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner
Cathy Van Meer helps Dylan Hayes ride his tricycle while Dylan’s mother, Leah Detwiler, watches at the Far West Motel in Kaysville last month. A development deal now being considered would likely end with the demolition of the motel that 35 people now call home.
NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner
Cathy Van Meer poses for a portrait last month in her home that she shares with her two children, ages 9 and 11, at the Far West Motel. A development deal now being considered would likely end with the demolition of the motel that 35 people now call home.
NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner
The Far West Motel sign in Kaysville is pictured last month. 
A development deal now being considered would likely end with the demolition of the motel that 35 people now call home.
NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner
The Far West Motel in Kaysville is pictured last month. 
A development deal now being considered would likely end with the demolition of the motel that 35 people now call home.
NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner
Cathy Van Meer helps Dylan Hayes ride his tricycle while Dylan’s mother, Leah Detwiler, watches at the Far West Motel in Kaysville last month. A development deal now being considered would likely end with the demolition of the motel that 35 people now call home.
NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner
Cathy Van Meer poses for a portrait last month in her home that she shares with her two children, ages 9 and 11, at the Far West Motel. A development deal now being considered would likely end with the demolition of the motel that 35 people now call home.
NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner
The Far West Motel sign in Kaysville is pictured last month. 
A development deal now being considered would likely end with the demolition of the motel that 35 people now call home.
NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner
The Far West Motel in Kaysville is pictured last month. 
A development deal now being considered would likely end with the demolition of the motel that 35 people now call home.

KAYSVILLE -- Tension is running high for 35 people living in 27 rooms at the Far West Motel.

After all, the 44-year-old Kaysville motel, 410 N. Main St., is targeted for demolition to make room for townhomes.

But an eviction date has yet to be shared with those living there, the tenants say.

Motel tenants fear an eviction will carry only a 24-hour notice, versus the 30-day notice apartment dwellers typically receive, said a frustrated Jim Rae, spokesman for the motel tenant group.

As a result, tensions are high at the motel, Rae said, because the tenants anticipate eviction and don't know where they are going to go.

Compounding the situation is that, of the 35 people living in the motel, about 15 are children or seniors, he said.

"It's a powder keg," said the 55-year-old retired social worker who has lived in the motel for six months.

"All we have ever wanted is a date," Rae said, "and I never thought that was asking too much."

But motel owner Mark Cummings, a Farmington property investor, said he has told his tenants several times they will receive a 30-day eviction notice and it is "completely false and a lie" that they will be given only 24 hours.

"Sometimes I think they might feed themselves into a frenzy," Cummings said of tenants sharing their free time to discuss the proposed sale of the property.

However, pinning down an exact date as to when tenants will need to vacate the premises is difficult at this time because the proposed rezone to transform the motel into a townhome project is still working its way through the city process.

On April 19, the Kaysville City Council unanimously recommended that the city planning commission grant preliminary approval to rezoning the 2.9 acres the motel is on from general commercial to an R-4 zone, pending a development agreement between the city and the developer, Destination Homes of Layton.

Should that agreement not be reached -- a deal that is expected to be closed on within 45 days -- the property will revert to its original general commercial zone, said Kaysville Mayor Steve Hiatt.

Destination Homes owner Brad Wilson also said the deal is contingent on his company's getting the needed approval from the city for the townhome project.

But Wilson understands the concerns being expressed by the motel tenants.

"They have a legitimate concern, which is, where are they going to live?"

To help those tenants find a new place to live, Wilson said he intends to help them find the housing resources available to them.

Wilson said he has also made a commitment to tenants that he will not close on the property and begin construction until after the school year is complete, in an attempt to not disrupt the lives of the school-age children living there.

Motel tenants were concerned that a shooting death March 19 at the motel was behind Cummings' desire to sell the land, as well as the city fast-tracking the rezone.

But officials say the shooting death is unrelated to the sale of the property and that the land has been listed for sale for five years.

They also say the city is following standard procedure in processing the rezone request.

Regarding eviction of the motel tenants, those living there permanently are in noncompliance with the city's general commercial zone, which limits motel residency to 30 days, said Kaysville City Manager John Thacker.

Wilson said his company began negotiations to buy the motel from Cummings in October, with an agreement being reached a week before the March 19 shooting.

It is a "sad coincidence" that the proposed rezone of the property surfaced around the same time as the shooting, he said.

Cummings said he originally bought the motel property and a piece of adjacent land to develop an assisted-living senior care center. Upon that development not coming to fruition, he said, he has been trying to sell the land rather than operate it at a loss.

"We're losing so much money, we are going to cut our losses and go."

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