Articles Posted in Connecticut Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the trial court sustaining Plaintiff’s administrative appeal, holding that the trial court erred in determining that Defendant’s proposed revision of boundary lines between certain adjacent lots constituted a new subdivision under Conn. Gen. Stat. 8-18 and erred in applying section III.F.7 of the Burlington Zoning Regulations (regulations). In finding that Defendant’s proposed lot line revisions constituted a subdivision, the trial court applied section IV.B.5 of the regulations, which requires an increased minimum lot area for new subdivisions. The court also applied section III.F.7, which governs the establishment of non-conforming uses on preexisting lots. The Supreme Court held (1) Defendant’s proposed lot line revisions did not create a subdivision because the revisions did not divide one parcel of land into three or more parts; and (2) Defendant did not propose the establishment of a nonconforming use because the property lines, as revised, met the size requirements applicable to lots in existence as of October 1, 1983, the date the town of Burlington adopted section IV.B.5 of the regulations. View "Cady v. Zoning Board of Appeals" on Justia Law

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Because Defendant’s signs on her property were not “advertising signs,” the trial court properly concluded that municipal regulation of the signs was outside the scope of a municipality’s zoning commission’s authority to regulate the height, size, and location of “advertising signs and billboards” under Conn. Gen. Stat. 8-2. Plaintiff, the zoning enforcement officer for the city of Milford, requested permanent injunctions ordering Defendant, a homeowner, to remove the subject signs from her property that were not in compliance with city zoning regulations and precluding her from occupying the property until she obtained certificates that she had made home improvements to her residence.The trial court denied Plaintiff’s request for the permanent injunctions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the phrase “advertising signs” under section 8-2 means any form of public announcement intended to aid directly or indirectly in the sale of goods or services, in the promulgation of a doctrine or idea, in securing attendance, or the like; (2) Defendant’s signs were not advertising signs under section 8-2, and therefore, the trial court properly concluded that the City lacked authority to regulate Defendant’s signs; and (3) the facts did not support the “extraordinary equitable remedy” of a permanent injunction prohibiting Defendant from occupying her premises. View "Kutcha v. Arisian" on Justia Law

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The Connecticut Supreme Court held that the Appellate Court properly concluded that the trial court should not have rendered summary judgment in favor of defendant, because a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether an easement by necessity over defendant's property should be granted for the installation of commercial utilities. The court explained that, consistent with the broad principle that easements by necessity require only a reasonable necessity, the public policy favoring the effective use of land, the implied conveyance of rights necessary to reasonable enjoyment of property, and the law of other jurisdictions, public policy favors recognition of easements by necessity for utilities over a preexisting deeded right-of-way. The court further explained that when a right-of-way already exists, an expansion of that easement for commercial utilities will be allowed as long as it is reasonably necessary for the beneficial enjoyment of the dominant estate and does not unreasonably impair the beneficial enjoyment of the servient estate, and trial courts should balance the intent of the parties regarding use at the time of severance, the relative enjoyment of the properties, and the burdens imposed by the easement in order to determine the overall costs and benefits to the parties. View "Francini v. Goodspeed Airport, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a developer, appealed a decision of Defendant, a planning and zoning commission, denied Plaintiff’s application for an affordable housing subdivision pursuant to the Affordable Housing Appeals Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. 8-30g. The trial court sustained Plaintiff’s administrative appeal. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the commission was required to grant Plaintiff’s application for subdivision approval despite the application’s lack of compliance with a municipal road ordinance; and (2) the trial court properly ordered the commission to approve Plaintiff’s application “as is” rather than for consideration of conditions of approval. View "Brenmor Properties, LLC v. Planning & Zoning Commission of Town of Lisbon" on Justia Law

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The Town of Middlebury and sixteen residents and entities situated in Middlebury and nearby towns (collectively, Plaintiffs), appealed the dismissal of their appeal from the decision of the Connecticut Siting Council granting CPV Towantic, LLC’s petition to open and modify a certificate for an electric generating facility. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court properly determined that the council had adequately considered neighborhood concerns in accordance with Conn. Gen. Stat. 16-50p(c)(1) where Plaintiffs failed to meet their burden of proving that the council acted contrary to law and ignored the neighborhood concerns that were presented to it. View "Town of Middlebury v. Connecticut Siting Council" on Justia Law

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Defendant, the owner of real property, filed a subdivision map that purported to subdivide the property into three new parcels. Defendant, however, did not obtain permission from the city planning and zoning authorities before filing the revised subdivision map. Defendant subsequently obtained a mortgage loan from a predecessor-in-interest to the substitute plaintiff. The loan was secured by a mortgage on two of the tracts. Defendant later defaulted on the mortgage loan, and plaintiff’s predecessor-in-interest commenced this action to foreclose on the mortgage. Defendant objected to the foreclosure, arguing that a judgment of foreclosure would have the effect of validating an illegal subdivision of property. The trial court rendered judgment in favor of Plaintiff and ordered a strict foreclosure of the two tracts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a trial court may render a judgment of foreclosure on mortgaged property that consists of parcels of land within a subdivision that has not been approved by municipal zoning authorities. View "ARS Investors II 2012-1 HVB, LLC v. Crystal, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Zoning Board of Appeals of the City of Meriden granted a variance to Mark Development, LLC to use a parcel of real property located in a regional development zone as a used car dealership on the grounds that the effect of applying the Meriden Zoning Regulations was so severe as to amount to a practical confiscation. Plaintiffs, the City of Meriden and two of its officers, appealed from the Board’s decision granting the variance. The trial court sustained Plaintiffs’ appeal in part and remanded to the Board for further proceedings. Both parties appealed. The Appellate Court reversed and remanded the case to the trial court with direction to sustain Plaintiffs’ appeal, holding that substantial evidence did not support the Board’s conclusion that the property had been deprived of all reasonable uses. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Appellate Court correctly found that substantial evidence did not support the Board’s conclusion that the property had been practically confiscated. View "Caruso v. Zoning Bd. of Appeals" on Justia Law

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Applicant applied for zoning variances allowing for the vertical expansion of a nonconforming building. There was no showing, however, that the strict application of the zoning regulations would destroy the property’s value for any of the uses to which it could reasonably be put. The Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Fairfield granted the application, concluding that the strict application of the zoning regulations would produce an unusual hardship. The trial court rejected Plaintiff’s claims and dismissed the appeal. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court improperly determined that the strict application of the zoning regulations would produce an undue hardship for Applicant, justifying the variances. Remanded to the Board with direction to deny Applicant’s application for the variances. View "E and F Assocs., LLC v. Zoning Bd. of Appeals" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff owned real property on a highway. In 2006, the board of selectmen of the town of Lyme (board) concluded that the highway extended through and across Plaintiff's property. Plaintiff brought an administrative appeal in the superior court. The superior court granted Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, concluding (1) it was entitled to consider the appeal in a trial de novo, and therefore, the motion for summary judgment was procedurally appropriate; and (2) the board exceeded its authority by determining the length of the highway rather than its width. The appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court properly concluded that Plaintiff was entitled to a trial de novo; but (2) the board was statutorily authorized to determine the width of the highway as well as its length. Remanded. View "Marchesi v. Bd. of Selectmen of Town of Lyme" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs obtained a variance from the zoning board of appeals (board) to construct a single-family house on their lakefront property. Plaintiffs then applied for and received a zoning permit and building permit from the town of Lebanon (town) to construct the house. After construction was completed, Plaintiffs constructed a deck. Plaintiffs did not receive the required building permits for the deck, nor did they notify the town of the deck's construction. Several years later, the zoning enforcement officer discovered the deck violated the town's zoning regulations and issued a notice of violation and cease and desist order to Plaintiffs requiring them to abate the setback violation. The board denied Plaintiffs' appeal. The superior court reversed, concluding that the deck at issue was a "building" as that term is used in Conn. Gen. Stat. 8-13a(a) and, therefore, Defendants' enforcement action was untimely under the three year statute of limitations set forth in section 8-13a(a). The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the deck was not a "building" under the statute. Remanded. View "Tine v. Zoning Bd. of Appeals of Town of Lebanon" on Justia Law