Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Connecticut Supreme Court
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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

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Plaintiff appealed to the superior court from the decision of the planning and zoning commission of the town of Clinton (Defendant), granting, subject to certain conditions, its applications for a special permit and for coastal site plan review. Plaintiff caused Defendant to be served with a complaint, but the complaint was not accompanied by a citation or a summons. The trial court dismissed the administrative appeal for lack of personal jurisdiction because the service of process did not conform to the requirements of Conn. Gen. Stat. 8-8(f)(2). Plaintiff appealed, claiming that, although the service of process was defective, it should have been allowed to add the citation and serve the corrected process pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-72. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff's failure to attach a summons or citations to the complaint was a substantive defect in the service of process and, thus, was not the type of technical defect that was amendable pursuant to section 52-72. View "New England Road, Inc. v. Planning & Zoning Comm'n" on Justia Law

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The zoning board of appeals of the town of Madison (board) approved a variance to replace Plaintiffs' house on the footprint of the prior structure. After Plaintiffs built a new house on the property, Plaintiffs submitted an application for a certificate of zoning compliance seeking approval to convert their present balcony into a large, uncovered deck. The proposed deck would fully comply with the zoning regulations but arguably would not comply with the previously approved variance. The zoning officer denied the application, and the board upheld the decision. The trial court dismissed Plaintiffs' appeal. The appellate court reversed, concluding that the board could not deny Plaintiffs' application because the footprint limitation was not expressly described in the certificate of variance. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) conditions attached to the granting of a variance are not to be construed solely on the basis of the language in the certificate of variance; and (2) the board properly denied Plaintiffs' application for a certificate of zoning compliance. Remanded. View "Anatra v. Town of Madison Zoning Bd. of Appeals" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff interred her husband's remains in the backyard of her property. The town's zoning compliance officer issued a cease and desist order for violation of the town's zoning regulation. Plaintiff appealed to the town zoning board of appeals, seeking a variance. Subsequently, the compliance officer withdrew the order to allow Plaintiff to remedy the violation. Plaintiff then notified the board she was withdrawing her objection to the order. Thereafter, Plaintiff commenced an action in the trial requesting a judgment declaring she had the right to use her property for the interment of her and her husband's remains. The court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The appellate court reversed and remanded, concluding that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's complaint because Plaintiff had failed her exhaust her administrative remedies by not appealing to the board. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff's failure to pursue her appeal and, thereby, to exhaust her administrative remedies left the trial court without jurisdiction over her action for a declaratory judgment; and (2) because Plaintiff was actually challenging the proper interpretation of the town zoning regulations, which was a function of the board, Plaintiff was required to exhaust her administrative remedies. View "Piquet v. Chester" on Justia Law

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Defendants, State Five Industrial Park and Jean Farricielli, appealed from a trial court judgment holding them liable, after invoking both reverse and traditional veil piercing principles, for a $3.8 million judgment rendered against Jean's husband, Joseph Farricielli, and five corporations that he owned and/or controlled, in an environmental enforcement action brought by Plaintiffs, the commissioner of environmental protection, the town of Hamden, and the town's zoning enforcement officer. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment, holding that the facts that were proven in this case did not warrant reverse veil piercing, and judgment on Plaintiffs' veil piercing claims should be rendered in favor of Defendants. View "Comm'r of Envtl. Prot. v. State Five Indus. Park, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, the town of Bozrah and the town's zoning enforcement officer, brought an action seeking a temporary and permanent injunction to enjoin Defendants, owners and residents of certain property, from refusing to consent to an inspection of their property for zoning violations. The trial court granted a temporary injunction preventing Defendants from refusing to allow the inspection, concluding that pursuant to Camara v. Municipal Court, the reasonable governmental interest in stabilizing property values and promoting the general welfare justified an inspection in the present action. Defendants appealed, claiming that the trial court's order violated their right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a zoning official may inspect a single property pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 8-12 if the official first obtains an injunction issued upon probable cause by a judicial officer; and (2) because the trial court failed to make a preliminary determination of probable cause to believe that a zoning violation existed on the property, its order permitting a search of Defendants' property violated the Fourth Amendment. Remanded. View "Bozrah v. Chmurynski" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a development company, brought an action against Defendants, several entities including the City, alleging Defendants had violated the Connecticut Antitrust Act by engaging in an illegal conspiracy in restraint of trade. The trial court granted Defendants' motion to strike Plaintiff's amended complaint on the ground that the complaint failed to allege an antitrust injury. The appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff's allegation that Defendants took bribes and kickbacks in exchange for steering public contracts did not state a cognizable antitrust claim, and therefore, the appellate court and trial court properly granted Defendants' motions to strike Plaintiff's amended complaint. View "Bridgeport Harbour Place I, LLC v. Ganim" on Justia Law

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Defendant landowner applied for a zoning change to designate its parcel as a business and commercial zone and for a special exception permit for approval of the site plan of its shopping center project. The Town's Planning and Zoning Commission denied the zone change application and denied as moot Defendant's application for a special exception permit. Defendants appealed, and the trial court judge, Judge Owens, approved Defendant's application for a zone change. During the pendency of Defendant's zone change appeal and upon receipt of Judge Owens's decision, the Commission approved the special exception permit but took no official action regarding the zone change application. Plaintiffs, several individuals, appealed, arguing that the commission acted improperly when it approved Defendant's special exception permit. The superior court sustained the appeal. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court improperly revisited the prior judgment of Judge Owens and too narrowly construed the effect of Owens's decision as well as the actions taken by the Commission in reviewing and approving Defendant's application for the special exception permit. Remanded.