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Red Roof Inn Research: 10 Times the Police Calls as Other Woodbury Hotels

A Woodbury woman is circulating an online petition “shut down or change what is happening at the Red Roof Inn.”

Even before the Aug. 31 hostage standoff at the that left one man dead, Melanie Snyder was researching criminal activity at the Woodbury motel.

Her findings probably won’t surprise you.

The supplied Snyder with about a year’s worth of reports, and she found that there were 290 calls to the Red Roof Inn between August of 2011 and mid-August this year. The next closest was the Country Inn, with 26.

Snyder has started an online petition to “shut down or change what is happening at the Red Roof Inn,” according to .

Still, “It’s not just about shutting down the Red Roof Inn,” she said in an interview.

“What are we going to do to fix this problem?” Snyder said.

She wants the city to investigate other measures to curtail the criminal activity at the motel—whether that’s extra patrols, changes to its rental procedures or additional security.

Her research found numerous cases of drug problems, warrant arrests, prostitution and domestic incidents.

Snyder said she plans to speak before the Woodbury City Council once the petition has had a chance to gain some traction.

But there’s not much the city can do, Councilman Christopher Burns said.

“This is one of those situations where the city of Woodbury has limited authority,” he said.

Burns said there haven’t been allegations of wrongdoing by Red Roof Inn staff, merely those who rent rooms there.

Yet the city has looked at that area—including the now-defunct Woody’s Roadhouse—as a “prime target for redevelopment,” Burns said.

He acknowledged however, that the city doesn’t have much of a say in what happens in the private sector, citing the vacant State Farm building as an example. “We’re a little bit hamstrung.”

Following an inquiry from Patch, City Administrator Clint Gridley sent out a statement last week:

“The city shares the community’s concerns about the level of criminal activity at the Red Roof Inn. It is our intention to be in contact with the hotel management to seek to improve the situation.

“Many people think the city has broad power when it comes to regulating businesses within our community. In reality, our authority is limited. The comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance identify specific locations for various types of development (e.g., residential, commercial, industrial and retail). The Red Roof Inn is located in the B-1 ‘Office Park’ zoning district and hotels are allowed in this district. It is a privately held business that has been operating in the city since 1981 and is a legal conforming use.

“Meantime, we will continue to use our public safety, code enforcement and community development tools to keep Woodbury a safe community to live, visit and do business.”

A reporter from FOX 9 News asked the Red Roof Inn for a response to the ongoing concerns. A statement from the motel’s public relations firm said, in part: "The vast majority of police calls for service were routine or informational in nature. Red Roof will continue to always put guest and employee safety first."

Snyder said most people are surprised to hear about the crime at the motel, especially juvenile prostitution.

“They don’t think things like this go on in our city, and they do,” she said.

Snyder said the problems there stem from three things: freeway access, exterior rooms that don’t require guests to pass a checkpoint and the fact that people don’t need credit cards to rent a room.

“And a lot of criminals don’t have credit cards,” she said.

Snyder said she would like to see extra patrols at the Red Roof Inn and checks of the guest registry by police.

Burns—who sent his thoughts and prayers go out to the victims—said he, too, fielded calls about that area of Woodbury before the hostage standoff. And while the police department has previously put “heightened attention” on the Red Roof Inn, he also doesn’t want to pester legitimate guests.

“I certainly don’t want to harass the folks that have chosen to stay there,” Burns said.

But he does think the city should have a “critical discussion” about zoning, ordinances, redevelopment, etc., at the site, and said the council may hold a future workshop on the matter, while being cognizant of the ongoing investigations.

“We’re willing to look at it and give it the full attention it deserves,” he said.

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Mark Gryzwa September 10, 2012 at 01:09 PM
http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/nuislaws.pdf And the MN public/private nuisance law.
Laurie September 10, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Well people- I guess Crime does happen in Woodbury Mn- so bring your noses down a couple notches. Your not perfect!
Chris Radecki September 10, 2012 at 01:35 PM
I agree with Brian's comment. However, I will take it a bit further. For several years the city tried to shut down a fine establishment like O'Mallys Irish Pub because their food to liquor percentage was slightly below the cities regulations. A regulation put in place to pretect the city and it's neiborhoods from have a nuisance bar or pub. In no way was O'Mallys a nuisance, but yet the city was forcing them to increase their food sales or they would pull their liquor license- effectively closing their doors. I realize that the liquor licence provides a different avenue for regulation. But, you can't tell me that the drugs, prostitution, etc. doesn't give the city something to stand on. They may not be able to shut down the Red Roof, but they should be able to take steps to protect their guest, Woodbury residents, and our fine police and emrgency personal.
Julie Bunch September 10, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Laurie, no one in Woodbury has indicated that they think that there is no crime here, or that Woodbury is "perfect" as you say. The difference is that we are not willing to overlook it--we want something done about it. Get the chip off your shoulder!!
Eric Berg September 10, 2012 at 02:28 PM
"Legal conforming use" is a zoning term that refers to the fact that the property complies with the applicable zoning codes for the district in which it is in. A "Legal non-conforming use" would mean that it had been built under the prior zoning code and was grandfathered in, and depending on the municipal code in question, would be allowed to remain so long as certain changes were not made. As a zoning term, it does not reflect criminal activity or lack thereof. Unfortunately, the California law in question differs from the Minnesota law. The lack of business licensing and the rather toothless Minnesota statute really limit the city's options.
Eric Berg September 10, 2012 at 02:40 PM
The most interesting sentence. This kind of dovetails to discussions both here and on the FB site prior to the recent roubles at das Roofen. "Yet the city has looked at that area—including the now-defunct Woody’s Roadhouse—as a “prime target for redevelopment,” Burns said." It would be interesting to know whether there's some steam there behind the scenes, or whether the Councilor is spinning.
Laura ME September 10, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Without closing and bulldozing both the Red Roof building and Woody's Roadhouse, I am not sure how any legitimate business would look at those properties as they currently stand as a "prime target for redevelopment". We need to remember that there are other family owned - family friendly business located in that same area (i.e.; Woodbury Fun Zone) that could also be in jeopardy unless there are substantial changes (or closing) of the Red Roof Inn. Really, kids are roller skating just down the street from that motel. It is more important to keep the other businesses and patrons of those businesses safe than keep the Red Roof open.
shari continenza September 10, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Woodbury is a CHOSEN place to live and raise our children because of the low crime in the city, if you don't mind crime around you and yours then move to East Saint Paul they have plenty to go around.........
shari continenza September 10, 2012 at 03:05 PM
you tell em Laura, those kids at the roller rink should be able to feel safe while there and not have to worry about whether or not their being stalked for teen prostitution or even worse trafficking.
John Erickson September 10, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Thanks Eric but it's a frustration with the ongoing issues. I do understand the terminology but toothless is the exact wording of what this is. I am suprised that the Cali laws would be a little more biting than what we have here considering the pc that generates from there.
Mark Gryzwa September 10, 2012 at 03:16 PM
What about 5 Star Dance? I'd say that's a little closer with an exit facing the hotel.
Melanie Snyder September 10, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Nice comment Julie. I have been been getting a lot of comments on the face book page about how entitled we as Woodbury residents are, how we are just simply worried that someone might steal our mercedes. I am tired of the stigma this community carries when it comes to our financial situations. I bet if someone did some digging they may find that we are pretty average on the income scale. This is about keeping our community safe. I am not going to overlook an issue that has been an ongoing problem. I don't blame the employees but I do blame the city for not enforcing the laws meant to protect our community. Clean it up or shut it down. Pretty simple.
Laurie September 10, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Julie- I believe you have the chip on your shoulder! I do also live in Woodbury and have all of my life. I still live here because I enjoy it and my friends are here. Since this has happened- there are a handful of people who have this attitude. There is one thing that I can't stand by and forget- it is the sound of gunshots and a young man screaming his last words before he is shot and killed by law enforcement. We had to spend a couple nights at the Red Roof because of having some work done to our house- one of those nights I won 't forget because it was the night of the hostage and shooting. We were a couple rooms down from the incident in lock down so we heard and saw everything. Ihopenobody ever has to go through what we did. So with that said - Me and my family will not be moving to East St Paul and shouldn't be told where we should live!
Kurt Shea September 10, 2012 at 06:40 PM
If the Red Roof Inn was really concerned about cleaning up their act, they would accept credit cards as payment. That would keep the riff raff out of there. It may not be PC of me to say it, but in today's world, if you don't have at least a debit card, then you probably shouldn't be staying in a motel. Just imagine all the illegal prostitution gone. What upstanding 40 something male would like to leave that trail for his wife to find? Also, all the drug dealers that stay there would most likely not stay there either. Bottom line, The Red Roof Inn has had this terrible reputation since I was in high school and has never changed. One other point is this, the Councilman who commented is spinning his rear end off. The City of Woodbury could take measures, including passing new ordinances that would allow Public Safety more leverage over the business. Kurt Shea
Mark Gryzwa September 10, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Seriously, Laurie? Maybe you should go back and read your comment again.
Melanie Snyder September 10, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Completely agree Kurt. Thank you!
Don Houghton September 11, 2012 at 03:08 AM
Tell the city attorney to enforce the nuicance laws according to minn sats; council meeting this wed eve
Laura ME September 11, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Laurie - if, in fact, you were really there - you more than anyone should be petitioning to have changes made and/or to shut down the Red Roof Inn. There are other hotels in Woodbury and surrounding areas. This one is just not needed.
Laurie September 11, 2012 at 10:47 PM
The Woodbury Police were called to the Red Roof Inn in Woodbury today after a man drowned and killed his dog in a bathtub there. 2 previous calls were made to the police department about the abuse this poor dog was enduring from his owner and his son-nothing was done about it evidently . The man told police that he shut the dog in the bathroom while he went to work and the dog(on his own) turned on the water(hot) and he died. This guy was seen several times dragging this poor dog across the parking lot and hitting her. I was told weeks ago that the Woodbury Police were going to make the guy give her up- I guess that was not done.
Melanie Snyder September 11, 2012 at 11:59 PM
Hello Laurie- Were did you get this newest info from? And has it been confirmed?
Laurie September 12, 2012 at 12:21 AM
When we had to stay at the Red Roof while work was being done to our house we saw this abuse going on and I placed two calls to the police. I received a call today that the cops were there because the dog was found dead in the bathroom. The police are suppose to be having an autopsy done on the dog and believe me- I will be following up with them on it! The police told me weeks ago that they were going to make him give up the dog.
Melanie Snyder September 12, 2012 at 12:23 AM
Thanks, Laurie! Please feel free to post this on the Facebook fan page. I think it's important to keep up to date on the Inn.
Don Houghton September 12, 2012 at 11:25 PM
Thanks Mark for the info on the nuisance law. I made 10 copies to hand out at the ciyt council meeting tonight, hope to see you there. Don Houghton
Kris Janisch September 12, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Don, I'll see you there. Say hello.
Melanie Snyder September 12, 2012 at 11:33 PM
The city council meeting we will be attending is on September 26th not this evening.
Don Houghton September 12, 2012 at 11:34 PM
Melanie, I've got a few copies of the Minn ststs on puplic nuisance that Mark Gryzwa posted the 10th and wil bring them to the council mtg tonight, hope to see you the. Also check into nonfeasance of office laws pertaining to puplic officials not performing their duties of office, thank you for what you are doing. Don Houghton
Kris Janisch September 12, 2012 at 11:34 PM
Good to know Melanie, thanks for keeping us in the loop!
Melanie Snyder September 12, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Don please email me at Melanie-snyder@comcast.net
kimberly killeen September 17, 2012 at 01:53 AM
I agree with you, Laurie. The city needs to be kept safe and if those businesses need to close down, so be it.....I personally know what trouble those places are in being a past patron but not anymore. Kim K
Kris Janisch October 01, 2012 at 11:07 PM
Pioneer Press has a post today with a graph charting calls back to 2012. http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_21674515/woodbury-police-calls-red-roof-inn-exceed-all

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