by: Jim Strickland Updated:
ATLANTA - Fulton County is refusing to allow a new hotel along Fulton Industrial Boulevard for fear it will contribute to crime in the area.
Channel 2's Jim Strickland learned the decision is costing the county jobs, tax money and a lawsuit.
"We're going fight it. We have to," said owner Helen Zaver.
Zaver showed Strickland the extensive overhaul she gave a former Extended Stay Motel so she could reopen as a Red Roof Inn.
The bathrooms even have the soaps laid out. It's been ready for a month, but she can't get a permit from the health department.
"I'm devastated. I'm putting all my personal funds into keeping this place ready to go, but if I can't open it sometime soon, I could be in foreclosure," said Zaver.
The county accepted her $50,000 property tax payment and code enforcement officials approved renovations, but the county health department denied a permit over safety concerns. A denial letter cites a high number of police calls at and near the address and a lack of security for employees.
Zaver's attorney said she's being punished for the sins of previous owners.
"My client invested over $1.3 million in this property and wants nothing more than to be successful," said John Christy.
"Twenty-plus folks won't be employed and have jobs. The county is subjecting itself to a potential claim for damages," said Christy.
Zaver may demand the county pay lost revenue and reimburse her investment. Health Director Patrice Harris declined to discuss the matter, saying in an email, "The county does not comment on pending legal matters."
A hearing is expected within the next 10 days.