MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – City leaders and police say that hundreds of calls about drugs, prostitution and fighting surrounding one Myrtle Beach motel have prompted them to call for its closing.
But the owner showed WMBF News documents that he says prove that his business is not the problem in the 700-block of North Kings Highway.
It all started in February, when the City of Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach Police Chief Amy Prock served a public nuisance notice to the Lancer Motel on North Kings Highway, which called for the owners to close it within 30 days.
The owner Chandrakant Patel and his son Sanchin Patel requested an appeal hearing that took place on March 13.
“It was a hearing in the city of Myrtle Beach versus the city of Myrtle Beach, with a city of Myrtle Beach appointed mediator, obviously it’s going to be very biased,” Patel said.
During the hearing, Myrtle Beach police say they provided an overwhelming amount of calls for service and complaints of criminal activity at the Lancer Motel.
“Specifically from January 2017 to February 2018, there were 451 calls and complaints of criminal activity to the Lancer Motel. The calls generally reported criminal activity related to drugs and alcohol, larceny prostitution, disturbances to the peace and fighting,” according to court documents.
Court filings say that police had a meeting with the owners and warned them that the criminal activity needed to be reduced, and that city was looking at the Lancer as a potential nuisance case.
Authorities said crime did not decrease and that between February 2018 and December 2018 there were 301 calls and complaints of criminal activity.
Patel says this is not accurate and that records show more than half of the calls listed had nothing to do with The Lancer Motel.
“Male walking East of Kings Highway," Patel read from a police report. "How is that my fault? How is it my fault that there was a male walking East of Kings Highway. The male said he had a place to stay a block away but that call gets logged to me because it happened in front of Lancer.”
An officer who testified during the hearing provided three large notebooks that contained case reports for the motel from Jan. 2015 to Aug. 2018. The case reports contained details about 13 drug overdoses that took place in motel rooms, three of those resulted in death, court documents state.
Patel said he went through these documents and listed out what they all were.
“204 of them were just an officer rolling through,” Patel said.
WMBF News reporter Casey Watson asked: “So it wasn’t actually a police call?”
Patel responded: “No, here you go. Public assistance, it was a keep check.”
Patel says the Lancer Motel initiated 111 calls, 32 more were made by people in the area who listed the Lancer Motel as an identifying location.
“If I was willingly, knowingly renting rooms to drug dealers I would shut down," Patel said. "I would put my head down in shame and shut down, but we don’t.”
The officer also compared the Lancer’s calls and complaints to several motels in the same area from Feb. 1, 2017 to Feb. 1, 2018:
- Crepe Myrtle Motel – 97 calls
- Sand Dollar Motel – 150 calls
- Noel Court Motel – 17 calls
- Palms Court Motel – 267 calls
- The Oasis Motel – 38 calls
- The Oasis Tower – 126 calls
- Fountain Bleau Motel – 369 calls
- Atlantic View Motel – 90 calls
- White Sands Motel – 167 calls
During this roughly the same time period, court documents show that the Lancer Motel had 451 calls.
Officers also compared criminal activity calls from March 1, 2018 to March 1, 2019:
- Crepe Myrtle Motel – 126 calls
- Sand Dollar Motel – 170 calls
- Noel Court Motel – 7 calls
- Palms Court Motel – 219 calls
- The Oasis Motel – 78 calls
- The Oasis Tower – 162 calls
- Fountain Bleau Motel – 360 calls
- Atlantic View Motel – 110 calls
- White Sands Motel – 148 calls
During this roughly the same time period, court documents show that the Lancer Motel had 301 calls.
During the hearing, the video of a reality show featuring the Lancer Motel was submitted. In 2014, the Travel Channel series “Hotel Impossible” tried to fix up the motel.
Another Myrtle Beach police officer testified that in his experience, drug dealers use the Lancer’s rooms to “setup shop for a weekend and sell narcotics.”
Court documents also say that the Lancer Motel is a known as a place to look for stolen vehicles or wanted persons.
After reviewing the evidence, Special Hearing Officer Jay Bultz issued a written order on April 3 declaring the property as a nuisance offending public decency, peace and order.
Patel and his son are appealing the decision. They said in court filings that all, if not most, of the evidence submitted during the hearing was based on 911 calls made in the general area and not at the motel. They said it is the responsibility of the town and not the business. They also said that closing the business is overreaching and there are many ways to ensure that the number of nuisances are reduced.
The owners are calling for the court for a full review of the order and request a new trial in full.
WMBF News reached out to the City of Myrtle Beach and to the Police Department for comment and they said due to this being a pending litigation case they were not able to speak on the matter.
Patel and his father have requested for their case to be moved and heard in a court in Conway. They say they believe they could get a fair verdict in another city.