Scarborough Council gives hotel more time to resolve issues

Scarborough City Council decided on Wednesday to further postpone its vote on renewing the license of a hotel that has been the source of more than 150 calls to emergency services in the past three months, up from 101 in 2021.

The Comfort Inn & Suites on Route 1 provides temporary housing for guests of The Opportunity Alliance, a Cumberland County social services agency. The high number of emergency calls, including 91 in March, prompted complaints from nearby businesses and residents. On May 18, the council, noting that the hotel’s new owner was taking steps to stem the appeals, delayed a vote on renewing the license.

“Since the matter was filed there have been discussions and I am pleased to report progress has been made,” City Manager Tom Hall said. “There’s more to do, and that’s part of what I hope you consider tonight…perhaps giving him a bit more time for the matter to mature.”

The board voted 5-1 to delay a vote on renewal.

Owner AJ Dhillon has worked to improve security measures since taking office in March by hiring a private security team and installing cameras. Emergency calls were reduced to 33 per month in April and May.

The terms of the proposed license renewal include 24/7 on-site security and on-site social services 40 hours a week. Dhillon has met the first requirement and The Opportunity Alliance is advertising for the full-time social service professional.

However, some elected officials are skeptical.

“We’re basically taking a business, whose main business is operating as a hotel, and basically asking them to start operating as a homeless shelter,” said councilor Jon Anderson, the only councilor to vote against the bill. postponement of renewal. “This is a hotel seeking a license to operate as a specific business and from the data we have seen they have not operated as a good business in Scarborough.”

Councilor Ken Johnson wants to see another significant drop in calls by the time the license comes up for a vote again in July.

“What do we do about the people living outside who are affected by this,” Johnson said, noting that on-site security and services may not have an impact beyond the property of the hotel. “There has been a slight increase in petty crimes; theft, things like that. What are we doing to mitigate this? »

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Sandy A. Greer