As the sun set on 2014, the village of Brookfield’s board of trustees passed an ordinance adopting a new building code. In that code was a provision mandating the installation of fire sprinklers in many types of new construction in Brookfield.
It didn’t address existing building types except for one: motels. The new law required existing motels — there are three on Ogden Avenue — to install fire sprinklers by Dec. 31, 2015.
According to village officials, the new mandate was safety-related.
At the time, the owners of the motels were not thrilled at the prospect of having to pay thousands of dollars for the sprinklers. A spokesman for the nine-unit Pioneer Motel, 8835 Ogden Ave., suggested that the village board passed the law in order to drive the motels out of business, noting that apartment buildings and high-fire risk businesses were exempt.
“We are barely breaking even,” said Rashesh Shah, the son-in-law of the manager of the Pioneer Motel. “It’s such an expense that it’s like drafting a chart to close down these businesses.”
Two of the three motel owners reportedly considered taking legal action against the village, which hadn’t notified them of the impending changes before passing the new law. However, no action was taken by any of the owners.
As 2015 ended, all three motels had dug deep, installed the fire sprinkler systems and remain open.
Brookfield building department records show that the Colony Motel, 9232 Ogden Ave., spent $42,300 to have the sprinkler installed. They were the first to do so, with the village approving the motel’s building permit application at the end of May 2015.
The Pioneer Motel and the larger Brookfield Motel, at 8809 Ogden Ave., waited a bit longer but had their building permit applications in and approved by the village of Brookfield by mid-November.
Records show that installing sprinklers at the Pioneer Motel, which is the smallest of the three motels in the village, cost $52,000. To install sprinklers at the Brookfield Motel, the owners spent $87,700, according to the building permit application.