Arlington Heights hotels deemed a nuisance – having numerous police calls for services due to crimes – could now face stiff financial penalties from the village after an ordinance was passed during a a recent village council meeting.
Administrators for the Village of Arlington Heights approved a new ordinance on June 21 in an effort to deter crime incidents at specific hotels and motels along the South Arlington Heights Road corridor. Police, fire, building and life safety, health and social services personnel in the village, as well as the office of the village manager and the company’s attorney drafted the order to provide additional authority to hold hotel operators accountable for repeated issues at a site.
“We’ve seen quite a significant increase in service calls at some hotels along South Arlington Heights Road,” Village Manager Randy Recklaus said, adding that this issue is not endemic to all hotels in the Village. “Two hotels, in particular, over a five-year period have seen an increase [from] 88 calls per year for service to 484 calls through 2021, and we have seen a 67% increase in calls for service in 2022 compared to 2021. This has been a very significant drain on police resources and firefighters.
The order outlines a series of “nuisance incidents” including: disorderly conduct, unlawful use of a weapon, mob action, possession or delivery of controlled substances, assault, assault, sexual assault, prostitution, violation of the property code and inability to obtain a license or permit for an activity.
If the hotel or motel is cited for three or more nuisance incidents in a 180-day period or five or more documented alleged nuisance incidents in a 60-day period, it will be declared a nuisance, according to the order. Operators could face fines of up to $750 per incident, reimburse the village, be required to install new security measures and could even face temporary closure or have their business license revoked.
The ordinance will come into effect on January 1.
Recklaus said Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg also recently passed similar ordinances for hotels.
Administrator Jim Bertucci said he had been on two rides with police and observed officers responding to calls at two hotels up to three times per shift.
“What I saw there was abominable in some of those hotels,” Bertucci said. “I totally support that. [ordinance] …it’s long overdue.
Administrator Tom Schwingbeck also accompanied the police and said he had had a similar experience.
“Are we being too lenient? Do we need to pursue them harder? asked Schwingbeck. “We are trying to correct a situation. I think we are being too lenient.
Administrator Mary Beth Canty said she was concerned about the hardship and cost this order would impose on all hotels in the village with increased security measures.
“I am aware of the potential impact on our hoteliers who may not be considered harmful hotels but who would still have to bear this expense,” Canty said. “I err on the side of the safety of our community and support the police and fire department.”
Recklaus said officers often observe hotel security breaches and there are plans to provide more training to police and firefighters to identify building breaches to improve security and compliance. He also noted that police and firefighters have spent a total of 414 hours so far this year at two different hotels responding to emergency calls – the time administrator Robin LaBedz is also expected to be spent in d other parts of the village to ensure security.
Administrator John Scaletta, who lives in the southern part of the village, said he appreciated the village staff who came up with the ordinance, but said he disagreed with much of it. this one.
“There’s a lot of stuff here that feels very subjective to me and that concerns me a lot,” Scaletta said. “There is too much power given to the village manager and the chief of police”, who would ultimately decide whether a hotel would be classified as a nuisance.
“I feel like we’re trying to kill a fly with a hammer,” Scaletta said, suggesting the order went too far. “I can’t believe we don’t have enough codes on the books right now to prosecute these offenders who are wreaking havoc on the village that we have to resort to such drastic methods.”
Scaletta ultimately voted “no” to the ordinance, which was approved by the board of directors by a 6-to-1 vote, with directors Jim Tinaglia and Richard Baldino absent.
Chairman Tom Hayes said he and the council should have confidence in their current incumbents, Recklaus and Police Chief Nicholas Pecora, adding that it was the council’s responsibility to rely on them to carry out this policy.
“Hopefully that will fix the problem,” Hayes said.
Elizabeth Owens-Schiele is independent.