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Motel with crime, but no license, closed by city

By Mike Genet

An Independence motel next to Interstate 70 reportedly used by some as a temporary residence has been closed since mid-September following a police sweep, as city staff learned the new owner did not have a business license.

The sweep on Sept. 15 at the Best Western Truman Inn, 4048 S. Lynn Court Drive, west of Noland Road, came after a recent noticeable increase in criminal activity and calls for service, city staff said. Those calls included a shooting, stolen vehicles and illegal drug distribution.

During the sweep, officers arrested about 15 people, some with felony warrants who had been staying at the motel. Police noticed code enforcement violations, and inspectors from the Community Development Department followed up and learned the new owner had not applied for a business license.

The new owner has started the application process, city spokesperson Meg Lewis said. It is unknown when the new owner took over, due to the lack of business license.

An invalid business license voids any health permits the business might have – in this case lodging, pool, and food and drink. City staff also noted “unsanitary conditions, multiple unresolved property maintenance violations and construction taking place without proper permits.”

Amber Bauer from the Community Services League said the Truman Inn was not one that had been on her agency’s radar from clients using the motel for temporary residency, but it wouldn’t surprise her if some people had been using the place for that. Bauer said they have not seen the normal turnover in area rental housing stock of late, and at least two other area hotels or motels experienced an initial increase in temporary residence customers with the pandemic. One establishment near the Truman Inn had not taken in customers who previously lived there, she said.

Lynn Rose, CSL vice president, said she believes some households that ran into financial hardship with the pandemic are running out of initial financial assistance such as federal stimulus payments. 

The agency received 10 calls just last week from families living in motels – “Definitely an uptick,” she said.