BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Sirphey, LLC has sent a letter of appeal to Los Alamos County following the County Appeals Board’s July 14 decision that denied Sirphey’s claim that a stop work order issued last November for the future home of Unquarked at 813 Central Ave. by the County’s chief building official Michael Arellano was arbitrary, capricious or violated the law.
The Appeals Board met Monday, July 27 to approve the minutes of the appeal which involved more than 30 hours of testimony over three previous sessions. Sirphey representatives Prashant Jain and Cortni Nucklos were not present and the Sirphey letter of appeal of the board’s decision was not discussed.
The appeal letter maintains the board allowed questioning on whether or not Sirphey had standing due to not submitting a form to the Community Development Department even though the code states that the appeal should be filed with the County Manager. Sirphey believes the board acted in error by not admitting certain pieces of evidence and allowing others, “employing a double standard”.
The letter asserts that the board demonstrated an arbitrary approach to rebuttal evidence and that Sirphey was not allowed to present certain records using a method Sirphey says was prescribed by County Attorney Alvin Leaphart. It maintains that there were “disparate standards” in procedural matters with regard to leading questions, objections during cross examination and issues with matters discussed in direct examination being determined to be irrelevant during cross examination.
Sirphey also alleges that an adopted standard – that no one may suggest anyone involved in the appeal hearing is dishonest or made a mistake – “placed an insurmountable burden on Sirphey”. Sirphey also alleges that unclear and changing rules were drafted by the County while filling a dual role as judge and defendant.
Among other claims by Sirphey they perceived “personal animus” to be guiding decisions by board Chair Terry Priestley and that a claim by Priestley subsequent to the final phase of the hearing process that no one was cut short, was false.
The County Code allows Sirphey to appeal the decision of the Appeals Board to the County Council if it believes the decision was made in error. Now that the appeal letter has been filed, the County Clerk’s office will assemble the record which will be provided to both parties who will have the opportunity to see if something is missing or should be added. Once certified by the County Clerk, the record will be provided to Council who will schedule the appeal for a Council meeting within 60 days of its filing.
As of Monday, no response to the notice of appeal had been filed on behalf of Michael Arellano in his official capacity.