Sat, Nov. 16

Oral arguments given in Jerome Board of Adjustment appeal
Intent and design of duplex is 'crux of issue'

CAMP VERDE - Both sides of the Rappaport vs Town of Jerome Board of Adjustment appeal gave oral arguments Tuesday to Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Michael Bluff. A decision in the case is expected from Bluff based on the oral arguments, as well as briefs already filed with the court.

Arguments were presented Tuesday by attorney Jon Paladini for plaintiffs Jack and Elizabeth Rappaport, and by attorney Jeff Murray for the Town of Jerome. The Rappaports were not present Tuesday. Jerome Town Manager Candace Gallagher was present but did not testify.

Tuesday's arguments basically repeated those given during the Board of Adjustment hearing in mid January, when the Rappaports lost their appeal.

The Rappaports own a rental unit at 208 Fifth St. in Jerome. They consider the unit to be a legal duplex. But Zoning Administrator Bill Jensen ruled that the property was restricted under town code to use as a single-family residence.

The Rappaports appealed to the Board of Adjustment. During the January hearing, and again Tuesday, Paladini presented evidence and testimony that the property was built in 1920 and was designed for dual occupancy prior to 1977 when Jerome adopted a zoning ordinance.

The argument for the Rappaports stated that each unit of the two-story duplex had separate kitchens, sleeping quarters, outside stairways, bathrooms and living quarters. Paladini argued that records and the building show a clear intent for the structure to be used as a duplex from the beginning.

Murray argued the same points made by Jensen during the BOA hearing in January. The first point was that the property was not designed or occupied as a legal "non-conforming" duplex in 1977. His second point was that, even if the property was a duplex at the time of adoption of the ordinance, such use of the property had been abandoned and now must conform to the current zoning laws.

Tuesday, Paladini continued that argument. "The duplex has two external entrances," he said.

Paladini said that historically, there were two separate living areas designed for two families to live independently of each other. "The design is indisputable," he said. "We think the town's reading of the code is wrong."

Murray argued that separate living arrangements aren't indisputable. "It is disputable," he said. "There was no independent living."

The "crux of the issue," according to Murray during Tuesday's oral arguments, is that the structure wasn't capable of providing independent living arrangements for two families. He further stated that there was never any evidence of any intent to use the property as a duplex.

Murray said he didn't know how soon Bluff will rule on the appeal.

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