Wareham motel owner told to comply with Board of Health regulations

By Matthew Bernat | Aug 02, 2017
Photo by: Matthew Bernat Board of Health members wait to speak with Tom Melanson, owner of the Village Motel, on Wednesday.

After the Board of Health introduced regulations limiting stays two years ago, the owner of a Wareham motel said Wednesday those rules may increase homelessness.

“You said you don’t want to create homelessness,” said Tom Melanson, owner of the Village Motel at 2739 Cranberry Highway. “You’re contradicting yourself, to me.”

Melanson spoke to board members at their meeting where he was asked to address several violations of the town’s motel regulations, which took effect in 2015. That year, the board imposed a 21-day limit on how long a guest can remain in a motel or hotel room, a 90-day limit on stays in efficiency units and it required motel and hotel owners to provide certain amenities, such as maid service and fresh linens and towels.

Health Inspector Patrick MacDonald said after an inspection he found that Melanson had guests staying longer than allowed and wasn’t providing services required.

Melanson said he purchased the motel in April of this year, planning to operate it exactly how the previous had, as a rooming house of sorts.

“It’s easy living for low-income people, basically,” said Melanson. “I was thinking of retiring there myself with the cost of living the way it is now.”

Melanson, a New Bedford resident, said the previous owner failed to inform him about the regulations.

Upon learning that guests would be forced out if Melanson fails to comply, the motel’s property manger, Dan Rodriguez, who also attended the meeting, asked what would happen if they say “no.”

“If people don’t want to leave after 21 days, what am I going to do?” said Rodriguez.

The answer, according to MacDonald, was to start the eviction process.

“We don’t want to be cruel to people, but they need decent, appropriate housing,” said board member Catherine Phinney.

Chair Dr. Amy Weigandt noted there are resources available for those looking for housing, either through the Wareham Housing Authority or the state. She said any guest who begins that process in earnest will not be asked to leave right away.

Looking ahead, Melanson was told to return with a plan for making that transition at the board’s September meeting. Otherwise, there will be “hefty fines,” according to Weigandt.


Comments (18)
Posted by: fritzfricia | Aug 03, 2017 08:15

I get where this owner is coming from. It's one of humanity and concern.

It does seem however that he also doesn't understand the problem that comes from allowing these people to continue to reap benefits they are no longer allowed.


There are countless homeless, each hoping to leave shelters and other places of existing so that they may once again gain confidence in living, working and thriving.


Yes there are those who will continue to work the system as a whole, I'm not talking about them.


IIRC the 21 day idea came about so to urge people into motivation, to seek jobs and other paths in order to better themselves. Only having to step up and grab that ladder rung from below. To weed out those people whom for whatever reason wish to remain under state care when they themselves don't actually need it. While also opening up temporary housing for those that do need it.

Forgetfulness seems to be a ploy many of these places take so as to extend and waste more time on a very black and white subject.


If I myself were to come upon the days where I was within the system and HAD to deal with this dilemma, I would take action. Getting kicked to the curb would be my fault, not that states or the hotels. One should take responsibility for themselves first and formost.


We also know the other answer to this problem. "We will just ship them to another location". Though adequate in its makings we all know the single excuse given... "I Don't want to leave here". It may sound different in words or expression but ultimately that is what I've heard as an excuse more often than not.


Sorry but if you want someone else to pay for your lodging, you go where they tell you to go. You travel when and where and you accept your fate. Be happy they, being the faceless government complex of today, doesn't send you to your death within the deserts of the west, in a complex designed to deteriorate your soul till it's broken and you resign to your fate of death and forgotten.


People here consistently complain about low income, thugs and scavengers. Yet do nothing to promote anything but.


This is one way to remove those that are exactly the problem you wish to get rid of. You just have to also get rid of a little humanity to achieve it as well.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Aug 03, 2017 10:23

Well written Fritz!


I don't think the new owner is entirely in it for "humanity and concern". He's looking at dollars too.  Occupied = $$.  If he kicks them out after 21 days there will be lapses in his $$.  It's a business.


Another bit of BS is how Melanson says "previous owner failed to inform him of the regulations".  Come on!  Of course the previous owner wouldn't.  He's trying to sell the hell-hole dump.  Why would he disclose that!  It was Mr. Melanson's responsibility to research and be fully aware of the regulations!  For crying out loud.


This whole motel thing has got to end. Rules are rules!  Enough is enough! 21 days is 21 days!  This certainly isn't the first time this has come up.  The majority of the violators are undesirable filth that nobody wants in their town!  I'm certain a bleeding heart will jump on here and speak of hard times, the poor children, someone they knew that was down on their luck, and all that.  That's a bunch of BS!  Take a ride by these places. Take a look at them loitering around. Look at the cars. Look at the junk piled up by the doors. Take a good whiff of it all.  We don't want this element!  These motels are supposed to be for vacationers and other desirable guests.  Not low income/no income, lazy system abusing undesirables.

Posted by: Uptohere | Aug 03, 2017 10:38

The argument of I wasn't told is the old he said, They said.  I see the next step being they get to hold off for so much time then it's winter and ...oh no.  We can't enforce the law ...that they created. .. And throw people out in winter....wait til the weather is warmer.  Hello....its August.... The law is crap to start with but now they need to back it up.

Posted by: cranky pants | Aug 03, 2017 10:45

I've never understood how it's cheaper to stay at motels full time. How much is it to rent one of these places per month ? I'm glad they are finally getting around to saying something two years late.. It's time for change.

Back ten years ago it was tough to find jobs, people were out of work for a while and bills piled up. That's not the case today, if you're out of work it's because you're not looking. With the exception of medical or mental issues there certainly isn't any reason to be unemployed or underemployed. Facts are facts.

If all else fails there's still plenty of woods out behind tractor supply. Nobody minds if they're out there and rent is cheap.

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Aug 03, 2017 11:18

"Chair Dr. Amy Weigandt noted there are resources available for those looking for housing, either through the Wareham Housing Authority or the state. She said any guest who begins that process in earnest will not be asked to leave right away."


If a guest begins the process of looking for housing through the Wareham Housing Authority and the state, and finds themselves on a waiting list at best months long or more likely years long, how long then will the board allow them to continue to stay in a motel before ordering the motel owner to force his guests out onto the streets and into the woods?

Posted by: Vrp0728 | Aug 03, 2017 13:10

  1. I am the previous owner of the village motel. Mr Melanson was told before the auction and many times before that about the new rules. He was told the police would not help any longer in removing non paying tenants. With the board of health's 21 day rule you would have to serve an eviction notice 25 day BEFORE someone moved in if you were to comply. The one tenant I evicted cost $5300. My rents were the lowest and didn't get raised in the summer. It was clean quiet and safe and that's why everyone wanted to live there. In the 8 years I was there the police were there 4 times 2 of which were elderly medical reasons. We looked out for each other had  cookouts together. One of the boh issues were about sanitary conditions for children. My argument was living in a car or camping all summer wasn't any more sanitary than living without a kitchen sink. You have your opinions and that's fine but please don't bash before u know the truth. Again Mr Melanson you knew all of the issues and why I decided to sell. You ask to talk to me before the auction started and were told about all the issues.

Posted by: Kress | Aug 03, 2017 16:26

If Mr. Melanson claims that he was not told about the limited stay rule, then his course of action would be against the previous owner for nondisclosure.  It's not the town's problem, nor should the town be involved in it.  It's between the buyer and seller.


Wareham needs to enforce their rules (with some compassion, of course.)


Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Aug 03, 2017 16:34

The previous owner says the new owner was told.  Even if he wasn't, there must be a bylaw or regulation document on motels available at Town Hall.  Zoning must be in charge and would have that.  Buyer beware.  Do your homework!

Posted by: WantToSeeChange | Aug 04, 2017 08:13

"Ignorantia juris non excusat or ignorantia legis neminem excusat" translated to:  ignorance of law excuses no one.


I think this is especially true in a world where you can probably google the laws of just about anywhere on earth from your living room.  The "previous owner failed to inform" is BS.

Posted by: Vrp0728 | Aug 04, 2017 09:24

Most of the tenants went to work everyday. The ones that didn't were disabled. Wareham by the sea you call it a hell hole  dump  only speak what you know, you make yourself sound ignorant. The reason I sold it was because of the 21 day rule. If u can't keep good people who are clean, quiet and responsible then u get junkies, alcoholics and hookers. Or u go weeks without rents which is how u pay the bills.the rent was approximately $1000 per month that included everything including air conditioning. But u didn't need first, last or security. So now you tell the disabled guy your 21 days are up sorry gotta go he has no car he has no family we are his family. What do you do wave goodbye then throw in the next person. No you don't if you have a heart at all. The boh don't really care because they go home to a hot meal, with a comfy chair to watch TV and think of ways to keep their jobs by making up rules that make no sense. If it's so bad why not offer a place in your home. That would help.

Posted by: Knocked for six | Aug 04, 2017 10:28

I think if the BOH is going to enforce a 21 day rule it would only be fair that the town pay for all lost revenue and legal fees incurred by the hotel/motel owners during the eviction process.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Aug 04, 2017 10:43

VRP0728, Like many things around this town, the bad spoil it for the good. It sound like you are saying that the Village Motel is nicer than the others. I believe you. It probably is. Unfortunately so many are not nice. The ones that I see with my own eyes are not nice.  The people that I see and know about, living in them are not desirable.  The articles, the police logs, and everything about the majority of them are not nice. I certainly feel your pain. It sounds like you care and you are frustrated by this motel conundrum.


Here's what bothers me: I think Wareham is geographically beautiful. I have had family, friends, and coworkers ask me about visiting Wareham in the summer for a couple days. Sadly, I cannot recommend a motel.  There are a dozen motels...maybe more and I would never ever recommend any in fear of total embarrassment.  The only places are the new Marriott (which is not a Cape Cod experience and is quite expensive) or possibly an Onset bed & breakfast but those are pricey too.  Cottages only rent for a week minimum.  So that leaves me with nothing to recommend.  Isn't that sad!


The motels were never intended for long term.  They were never intended for disabled guys with no car.  Nor were they intended for junkies, alcoholics, & hookers (your words).  It is sad to think about all of those situations.  I understand.  Unfortunately the many bad ruined it for the good.  Bottom line is that Wareham's motels were intended for Wareham's visitors, not long term occupancy.  The 21 day rule is a start.  It's a way to slowly evolve the motels back to their intended purpose. If it was up to me it would be fewer days.  Something more like 7 to 14 days would comply with the average vacation.

Posted by: Vrp0728 | Aug 04, 2017 13:58

My goal as the manager when the man I work for bought it was to have a safe clean quiet place for myself and others. Then when I bought it my goal was all of the above plus a place where I could care for my mom which I did until she passed. I always said I would never let it get like the others and until this 21 day rule it didn't. When I tried to go by the rules and the tenant wouldn't leave I called the boh to ask what I was suppose to do and their response to me was " you don't think we're going to enforce it do you" I replied yeah I kinda did they told me to start eviction and by the time it was over between rent and court sheriff fees it cost me $5300. No one can take a hit like that. I have stayed somewhat in touch with the manager there now and it is turning just like the others. Very sad. It was a nice place quiet time 10 pm everyone sat outside with each other Thanksgiving and Christmas were spent with the people who had no one. Just telling the story so people are aware that that one motel was a good one and with that 21 day rule it will become just like the rest. Breaks my heart Everytime I go by.

Posted by: WantToSeeChange | Aug 05, 2017 14:22

Maybe someone can explain to me why these "motels" can't be just turned into "very tiny apartments" and get out of this whole "motel/21 day" crap?   Are there different restrictions on apartments vs motels?  I would love to see Wareham have actual motels that people would want to stay at on vacation but we are too loaded with motels that people live in full time.  Take the sign down, put up a new one for small studio apartments.  Is this even something that could be done?


Posted by: Vrp0728 | Aug 05, 2017 19:15

Even though I had the most up to date fire system the town also wanted a sprinkler system. The 2 quotes were $35,000 and $60,000. Yes if u put in a kitchenette then u could be studios. But how do u financially do that if u can't keep paying tenants. It's a no win for all involved. It's too bad because it was working for us

Posted by: Vrp0728 | Aug 05, 2017 19:15

Even though I had the most up to date fire system the town also wanted a sprinkler system. The 2 quotes were $35,000 and $60,000. Yes if u put in a kitchenette then u could be studios. But how do u financially do that if u can't keep paying tenants. It's a no win for all involved. It's too bad because it was working for us

Posted by: Linda | Aug 07, 2017 00:38

Power can be a terrible thing. In this case it seems to have gotten out of hand and the BOH won't be happy until these motels are all bulldozed.  They are housing people that would probably be sleeping in their cars or in the woods.               I think Dr. Amy should read up on housing.  I was almost living in my car.  I have been on the Section 8 listing for 5 yrs.  I won't need it now, but I even called Rep. Susan Gifford's office and they told me that waiting list is now 9 years.  Wareham Housing doesn't have enough units. Go down to Swifts Beach, those tiny cottages from before Hurricane Carol are still renting, probably should be condemned.  I'm pretty sure all this crap with the motel stays was because the cops were always being called for domestics or drugs, but guess what (?).   Union Pond apts. are always having WPD over there.  I suggest that the BOH visit the Wareham Housing Authority and let her explain the real deal with housing that is affordable in Wareham.


Posted by: Vrp0728 | Aug 09, 2017 07:12

I have heard the statement "if it's not broken leave it be. Well that would of been to easy. After I auctioned off the motel which by the way I made nothing still owe the bank $20,000 I had to rely on friends to let me couch surfing stayed in my car some nights. And I looked for help some couldn't help until I had an address and some other would've taken till winter. It's a shame I can't speak for the other motels but the village motel was doing just fine no police, no trouble and good tenants that just wanted to have a nice clean quiet safe place to live. Go figure it was working they didn't want that.

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