The city of South Portland and the owners of two motels have reached a tentative agreement that will allow the motels to continue operating if they increase security.

The agreements came after the South Portland City Council in May decided not to renew the operating licenses of The Maine Motel and The Knights Inn after several incidents of alleged prostitution or drug-related activity at the family-owned-and-operated motels on Route 1. The motel owners sued the city and a judge later blocked the city from shutting down the motels, while urging the council and motel owners to agree to conditions that would allow the businesses to remain open.

Representatives of the city and motels worked together on conditions of approval for license renewal applications. The City Council is scheduled to vote on the agreements Tuesday.

Under the agreements, the motels will be granted lodging establishment licenses if they meet several conditions. They include requiring all managers and front desk employees to participate annually in the police department’s hotel/motel training program; installing and maintaining video recording equipment and preserving all video recordings for at least one week; making reasonable efforts to determine the identity of each guest in whose name a room is registered; reporting suspected illegal activities to police as soon as possible; and cooperating with police officers investigating suspected illegal activities.

The agreements also stipulate that the motel operators will not be penalized in future licensing decisions for reporting illegal activity if the operators comply with the conditions.

The Knights Inn, at 634 Main St., is owned by Kantilal Patel, and the Maine Motel, at 606 Main St., is owned by Ibrahim Dhamdachhawala.

David Lourie, the Cape Elizabeth attorney who represented Patel and Dhamdachhawala, said his clients “have agreed to these conditions, not that they think they’re warranted.”

“They want to move on with their lives,” he said.

City Manager Scott Morelli was in court Monday on a separate issue and was not immediately available to comment on the proposed agreements.

Councilors voted May 15 not to renew licenses for the motels on the recommendation of Police Chief Ed Googins. He said two prostitution investigations at the Knights Inn and an alleged overdose death at the Maine Motel violated an ordinance saying that disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace can result in revocation or non-renewal of a license.

Googins sought to impose conditions on the motels, asking them to install video surveillance in public areas and undergo police training to identify and report potential criminal activity. Both Googins and Lourie said the owners had indicated they wanted to abide by the conditions.

In the lawsuit filed after the council vote, the owners claim that the council’s action against the Main Street motels and the city ordinance on which it was based are discriminatory and unconstitutional.

Lourie had asked the court to overturn the council’s action “so as not to hold the owners responsible for unproven conduct or events merely appearing in police incident reports, of which (the owners) have no prior knowledge and have no control.”

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @grahamgillian

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