Pest problem shuts down Branson Plaza Motel, some residents need new homes

Branson, Mo -- Another extended-stay Branson Motel has been forced to shut-down because of unsafe and unclean conditions.

People who lived at the Branson Plaza Motel were told Tuesday that they must move out by Wednesday.

The director of the Taney County Health Department says it was a very bad pest problem that caused the closure.

Resident Joseph Malone admits the motel has problems.

"There are some things that need to be fixed. But, it's safe, it's warm, or cold if you need it to be. You can eat here, sleep here. It's all I needed," Malone said.

However, according to the Taney County Health Department, the Branson Plaza Motel is not safe. The director says this is the first time, at least in recent years, that the department has considered conditions to be imminent health concerns and forced a closure so quickly.

"Largely pests is what we are looking at with this. Of course, pests carry diseases," Taney County Health Department Director Lisa Marshall said. "We do feel it's an imminent health hazard and that it's not a healthy or safe place for those people to stay even for one more night."

Marshall says the health department responded to a complaint about the motel on Monday and found that the pest problem is present throughout the whole building, so no rooms were considered safe.

Resident Mindy Hinkle says she's seen the problem, too. However, in her opinion, having to move out now is a bigger issue.

"There are bed bugs and cockroaches," Hinkle said. "We've been dealing with it for a year. What's one more night? What's two more nights? Give us time to find somewhere to go."

The City of Branson and the health department have partnered with local non-profits to try to help people move, but residents say not all of them have been able to find places.

"Especially, with extended say motels. There are so many of them in Branson, but they're all full," Hinkle said.

Malone says one charity told him the same thing.

"She said she called all the hotels that take their payments and they're all full. The people who own this building have other buildings, but they say they're all full," Malone said.

So, with no answers from the motel owners, either, people are trying to find somewhere else, soon.

"That's not fair and it's not possible, really not possible," Hinkle said.

The city and health department agreed that people who didn't have anywhere to go as of Wednesday night could stay without facing possible citations overnight. However, they are holding the owners of the motel responsible, meaning the owners could be cited for "occupying an unoccupiable building" for every person that remains on the property.

The county has taken the motel's health department permit. The state is also pulling the lodging license. Even if the motel owners want to re-open, they'll have to earn the county permit and state license back before they could even apply for a new business license with the city.

Read the original version of this article at www.ky3.com.