The trial to determine if the Knights Inn on East Dublin-Granville Road is a public nuisance is scheduled to begin Feb. 17.

The trial to determine if the Knights Inn on East Dublin-Granville Road is a public nuisance is scheduled to begin Feb. 17.

"We're pretty confident with the evidence we have and we're pretty good with those kinds of cases," Assistant City Attorney William D. Sperlazza said last week.

Speaking at the monthly meeting of Northland-area Block Watch coordinators, Sperlazza provided an update on where things stand with the various motels that were shuttered by court order last year as part of a major crackdown on problem properties in the neighborhood.

Environmental Court Judge Daniel R. Hawkins granted a temporary restraining order Nov. 20, closing the Knights Inn, 1300 E. Dublin-Granville Road. Residents and guests were forced to move out by noon the following day.

In granting the request of City Attorney Richard C. Pfeiffer Jr., the judge pointed to numerous instances of crime, including murders, undercover purchases of heroin, crack cocaine and marijuana with the aid of confidential informants, shootings and prostitution dating back as far as 2009.

Solicitation arrests were made at the motel as recently as Nov. 14 and at 1:20 a.m. Nov. 20, according to the order.

The Columbus Inn and Suites on Zumstein Drive was the first crime-plagued motel to be closed as a result of the campaign instituted by Columbus police officers Scott Clinger and Larry Geis, the community liaisons to two of the precincts in the Northland area. Working in concert with the City Attorney's Office, the Columbus Division of Fire, the State Fire Marshal's Office and other agencies, the officers instituted an ongoing investigation.

The motel was closed in June under a temporary restraining order and ordered closed permanently Jan. 21.

The city won the public nuisance case in court and also on appeal, Sperlazza told the Block Watch coordinators last week.

"That's a very, very good victory for us," he said.

The order boarding up the establishment expired Jan. 21, but Sperlazza said "it's a mess" and hardly likely to reopen any time soon.

"I wouldn't worry much about it in the future," he added.

The ruling Hawkins made May 21 declaring that the owners of the Red Carpet Inn, 1289 E. Dublin-Granville Road, were guilty of maintaining a public nuisance was appealed. The case is to come before the 10th District Court of Appeals on Feb. 11, according to Sperlazza.

"I have a good feeling," he said.

Finally, in a case handled a bit differently from the others, the owners of the Super 8 Motel, 1078 E. Dublin-Granville Road, and the Best Western Plus, 888 E. Dublin-Granville Road, entered guilty pleas in September to operating both places as public nuisances, Sperlazza said.

The owners have since "poured a ton of money" into the properties, adding high-end security systems, doing extensive remodeling and agreeing to have private security guards on the premises 18 hours a day, he continued.

Super 8 has already reopened and Best Western will follow suit, Sperlazza said.

"It's a lot better than having a boarded-up building," he added.