After speaking to EMS and Police about potentially crime-ridden areas of Richmond, WBON-TV’s Marisa Hempel went to the Health Department in order to clarify exactly what the process of looking into complaints at local businesses are. Senior Environmentalist Woody Arvin explained how the Health Department investigates complaints, and if it is feasible to shut a business down permanently for health code violations.
Arvin elaborates that this is actually quite difficult to do, especially when looking into hotels/motels as opposed to restaurants where health issues would be much more imminent.
He also addressed a specific complaint, and cleared the air that the straight-piping issue was rectified according to the timeline that the Health Department mandated.
Another way to condemn a local business would be through the City’s Codes Enforcement Board. Phillip Williams, Director of City of Richmond’s Codes, Safety and Risk Management responded saying there are no current open complaints with the board, but in recent memory certain hotels had issues with certain rooms, methamphetamine production, plumbing drains, and stairwells with structural deficiencies.
Williams continued, and said that a nuisance ordinance, such as the one that City Commissioner Jason Morgan has been exploring to shut these alleged crime hotspots down, would be beneficial to be reviewed. Williams says that it seems some of these areas do in fact cause undue hardship on first responders, and a new ordinance would create an avenue to cite these businesses on crime rather than on building and code violations alone.
At the moment, if local officials would want to pursue fining these businesses or shutting them down, it cannot be done from the Health Department or the City’s Codes Enforcement office with the current statutes.