Susie Sieber, owner of the Rio Grande Southern Hotel, has challenged the town’s claim of code violations and that it constituted imminent danger sufficient to shut her hotel down.
According to court briefs filed by her attorney Jon Kelly, the “town lacks jurisdiction over the enforcement of the electrical code.”
Furthermore, the town “abused its discretion and exceeded its authority over the non-electrical building code violations.”
The town alleged five non-electrical building code violations against the hotel under the municipal code, adopted from the 2006 International Maintenance Code.
The town also identified numerous alleged electrical code violations.
Sieber is asking the court to reverse the appeals board decision that upheld the town’s code violations and subsequent business closure.
Sieber points to an independent electrical inspection of the hotel on March 28 by Robert Stuart, a licensed electrical engineer with RWS Engineering Co.
According to court documents, Stuart concluded that the “code violations are minor in nature and do not pose any life safety issues for he general safety and welfare of the occupants and the public.”
He recommends that the hotel remain open while minor repairs or alterations are made to the electrical system.
After presented with the Stuart report, the town removed the locks from the hotel and returned possession to Sieber, according to the legal brief.Sieber promptly resumed her business, and began making repairs.
Stuart testified that under the electrical code, historic buildings such as the hotel are exempt from many of the upgrades and repairs identified in the town’s notice because they do not cause a “life safety issue.”
Also, the hotel’s appeal claims the town code does not detail electrical code requirements, and therefore it exceeded its jurisdiction by issuing electrical violations.
The hotel’s appeal states that the state electrical inspector did not red-flag the electric meter, and “found no violations that warranted intervention and elected to take no action.”
The town acted arbitrarily when it ordered the closure for “imminent danger due to unsafe condition”, the appeal states, arguing evidence suggests otherwise.
“There was no reason for the Town’s walk through inspection on March 6, 2015, other than the guise of inspecting the property for alleged citizen complaints of a nuisance in the Hotel.”