Rappaports lose Superior Court appeal
JEROME - Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Michael Bluff ruled Oct. 3 in favor of the town in the Rappaport vs. Town of Jerome Board of Adjustment in the special action case.
Jerome residents Jack and Elizabeth Rappaport filed a special action in Superior Court earlier in the year seeking to reverse a Jan. 13 decision by the Board of Adjustment to uphold the zoning administrator's decision that the Rappaports' property was not a legal non-conforming use.
The Court held oral arguments on Aug. 16 and took the matter under advisement.
In Bluff's conclusion to his ruling, he states: "It is ordered the decision of the Town of Jerome's Board of Adjustment upholding the decision of the (zoning administrator) to reject the appeal of the Rappaports is AFFIRMED."
Bluff further noted that even if the Rappaports' use had been legal, non-conforming, its use had ceased for more than six months and therefore had been abandoned.
Town Manager Candace Gallagher said Thursday that she would not care to speculate on whether the Rappaports would appeal Judge Bluff's decision. She also said the council has not yet discussed whether there is recourse for the town to recoup any court costs or attorney's fees.
Mayor Jay Kinsella said, "There is an appeal process. But Judge Bluff made his ruling. His ruling will stand unless there is an appeal." He said the council now will just wait. "For now, we have the judge's ruling."
Lisa Rappaport, who recently resigned from the Jerome Town Council, said she had "no comment," when reached by phone. "I'm just trying to deal with my health issues right now."
The Rappaports own a rental unit at 208 Fifth St. in Jerome. They considered 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 on Aug. 16, the Rappaports' attorney Jon 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.
Jeff Murray, Jerome's attorney in the matter, argued the same points made by Jensen during the BOA January hearing. The first point was that the property was not designed or occupied as a legal non-conforming duplex in 1977. The 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.