Branson Believes Code Change Could Make Hotels Safer

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BRANSON, Mo. – The city of Branson is eyeing new options aimed at making its hotels and motels safer.

The city says updating its health codes could improve conditions for both residents and visitors, but some hotel owners believe the city is taking the wrong approach to accomplish that goal.

Not long after the death of six-year-old Jasmine Miller at an extended-stay hotel in Branson, the city began eyeing new regulations for all lodging facilities.

Last year, the Board of Aldermen approved a new hotel tier ordinance, grouping hotels into categories based on the number of emergency calls to property.

“Now that that’s hit the road and being utilized, we went back to the drawing board and said, ‘what is the next piece that we can address?’” says Branson planning and development director, Joel Hornickel.

Hornickel says aldermen believe the next step is aligning the city’s health codes with the state’s health codes, which would expedite enforcement at the local level.

The rules would apply to both extended-stay living hotels and traditional hotels.

Some of the proposals include requiring hotels to clean a room before a new resident moves in, requiring towels to be changed on a regular basis, along with other sanitation-related rules.

“The other component was more for the bed bug topic or rodents or insects, things like that,” says Hornickel. “Again, basic [rules], if there is an instance that is found or discovered by an inspection, then here’s how you deal with it.”

“It’s always good in our industry to talk about safety, security, comfort, privacy,” says Gail Myer, vice president of operations for Myer Hotels, “that is the foundation of our businesses.

Myer is the co-owner of six hotels within the city limits of Branson.  He believes if the city wants to improve safety at its lodging facilities it needs to take a different approach than updating health codes.

“When [the city] sets the converted one-room apartment-living situations into their own category, and lodging into its own category, then they will make progress,” he says.

“But it is awkward to find regulations in an industry that is heavily regulated,” Myer says.

The city will be working with the Taney County Health Department for the next six to eight-weeks to draft new codes.

It will then present the proposals to the local lodging association for further discussion.
 

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