SADSBURY TOWNSHIP — The future of the now-closed Sunset View Motel on the west side of Conneaut Lake will be made by Sadsbury Township supervisors within the next 30 days following a Tuesday morning hearing about whether the structure is dangerous or dilapidated.
The once-thriving motel now is deserted and, according to testimony given at the hearing, has overgrown grass, open doors that reveal leftover food containers and bottles inside the rooms, and other doors where the padlocks have been taken off.
In opening remarks before testimony, property owner James Clark said he has talked with a few possible buyers, including in 2018 when he had a deal to sell it, but after a few payments, the deal fell through.
Rose Mumau, the township's zoning officer and secretary-treasurer, testified about multiple complaints she has received from motel neighbors over two or three years about the tall grass and the dirty yard, as well as the open doors and reports of animals going onto the property.
She went to the site Oct. 8 and took pictures of what she saw, including a pop machine in the front of the motel that has fallen over. She said although there is nobody supposed to be living there, apparently somebody has been there, citing the leftover food containers and bottles.
Mumau testified she has had multiple discussions with Clark over the past two years. She said the main concern is the open doors, which need to be secured to keep people out.
She noted the structure "could catch on fire" as well. In addition, the property has had no water since 2017 and the sewer service was discontinued in 2019.
Also noted were the pool — although it is fenced-in and drained — not being in good condition, a mattress laying on the ground outside, and cottages in the rear of the motel having broken windows and open doors as well.
Clark, who represented himself at the hearing, cross-examined Mumau, who said Pennsylvania State Police have received complaints and have filed a few reports. She said she didn't know whether the police had contacted Clark or whether he had contacted them.
Clark said he had padlocked several doors to keep people out, but when he visited the site, the padlocks were off and the doors damaged.
He said he has asked police about prosecuting trespassers as a deterrent. He said when he was there Monday, two doors were open so he plans to put a wedge in them, and he planned to mow later Tuesday. He said he will try to "get to the rest of it," referring to the issues discussed.
Under cross-examination by township solicitor Joe Ferguson, Clark agreed there are no water or sewer connections, saying they were both discontinued about the same time, agreeing with Mumau's timeline of "probably about two years." Clark said he had an agreement with a contractor to do some of the work by May 20, but it wasn't done.
Clark said he has a "couple more prospects" to purchase the property.
Supervisor Bonnie Smith said she visited the site about two months ago and saw open doors.
Supervisor Lyle Hoovler told Clark that putting a wedge in the door is not going to solve anything, telling him that if he wants to make it secure and safe, put plywood over the door and screw it shut. "The problem is the place is a disaster and it needs TLC now," he added.
"I realize that," Clark answered. He said if the sale doesn't go through he will continue to mow and get the property "looking decent."
At the conclusion of the hearing, Ferguson said the supervisors will make a decision on the future of the site within 30 days.
The motel has been in existence close to the entrance of Conneaut Lake Park since before the mid-1950s.