Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Zoning, Planning & Land Use

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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 appealed from the Planning and Zoning Commission’s denial of its subdivision permit. Intervenor intervened in the appeal to the trial court pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 22a-19(a), raising claims related to the environmental impact of the proposed development. After remanding the matter back to the Commission for further fact-finding relating to Intervenor’s claims, the trial court set aside the Commission’s findings and adjudicated the factual issues itself. The trial court rendered judgment in favor of Intervenor and forbade Plaintiff’s proposed subdivision from going forward because of its potential environmental impact. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Environmental Protection Act does not empower a trial court to enter an injunction in an administrative appeal of a zoning decision involving an intervention under section 22a-19; and (2) the trial court could not have properly relied on Conn. Gen. Stat. 22a-18(b) through (d) to remand the matter back to the Commission for consideration of Intervenor’s claims or to independently adjudicate the factual issues raised in those claims. View "Hunter Ridge, LLC v. Planning & Zoning Comm’n" on Justia Law

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The Planning and Zoning Commission of the Town of Monroe approved the application of Handsome, Inc. for a special exception permit to construct an industrial building in the Town, subject to thirty-six conditions. After the permit’s expiration date passed, the Commission denied Handsome’s application for a permit extension. The trial court concluded that the Commission must approve the application for a permit extension. The Commission ultimately granted Handsome’s application to extend the permit, subject to five other “requirements” and several “clarifications” relating to the original permit approval. Handsome and its principal officers appealed, challenging the imposition of conditions they alleged had not been part of the original permit. The trial court directed the Commission to approve the special exception permit conditioned only upon the conditions as recited by the Commission in its original decision. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the trial court, holding that Plaintiffs were not aggrieved by the Commission’s decision and therefore did not have standing to bring the appeal. View "Handsome, Inc. v. Planning & Zoning Comm’n" on Justia Law

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During a regular meeting, the Planning and Zoning Commission of the Town of Monroe convened for an executive session to discuss “legal matters regarding general enforcement” before reconvening and extending a zoning permit previously issued to Handsome, Inc. Handsome and its principal officers filed a complaint with the Freedom of Information Commission (FOIC), claiming that the zoning commission’s executive session violated Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act (the Act). The FOIC determined that the executive session was unlawful under the Act. The trial court reversed, determining that the zoning commission’s executive session was permissible under the pending claims or pending litigation exception of the Act. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the zoning commission’s executive session was not justified under the Act’s pending claims or pending litigation exception. View "Planning & Zoning Comm’n v. Freedom of Info. Comm’n" on Justia Law

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Defendants in this case were a private company that owned property in the town of Rocky Hill and a company overseeing the development of a nursing home on that property. Defendants contracted with the state to provide nursing home services to state prisoners and others in state custody. The town filed an action against Defendants claiming noncompliance with its zoning regulations. The trial court dismissed the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, concluding (1) Defendants were an “arm of the state” entitled to sovereign immunity; and (2) even if Defendants were not shielded by sovereign immunity as an arm of the state, the town’s zoning authority over the project was preempted by Conn. Gen. Stat. 17b-372a, which permits certain state officials to contract for the establishment of nursing home facilities for state prisoners and individuals receiving services from the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Defendants were not immune from suit as an arm of the state; and (2) by enacting section 17b-372a, the legislature did not intend to preempt the application of local zoning laws to facilities established on private land under the authority of that provision. View "Town of Rocky Hill v. SecureCare Realty, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Department of Environmental Protection (Department), acting through its office of Long Island Sound Programs (Office), ordered Plaintiffs, Gail and Thomas Lane, to remove a boardwalk and dock from their property because they had been installed without the statutorily required permits. The Office then denied Plaintiffs’ application for a certificate of permission to retain and maintain the structures and to install a new boardwalk pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 22a-363b(a)(2). The Department upheld the Office’s rulings. The trial court dismissed Plaintiffs’ administrative appeal. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Appellate Court properly interpreted section 22a-363b(a) in concluding that the trial court properly dismissed Plaintiffs’ administrative appeal. View "Lane v. Comm’r of Envtl. Prot." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff property owner sent a letter to a zoning enforcement officer for the Town of Darien, asserting that permits obtained by her adjoining neighbor had been illegally issued. Plaintiff received no response to that letter. Plaintiff filed an application to appeal. The town zoning board of appeals dismissed Plaintiff’s application for lack of a timely appeal and lack of a “decision” from which an appeal could lie. The trial court dismissed Plaintiff’s appeal from the decision of the board, concluding that substantial evidence supported the board’s determination that the town zoning enforcement officer did not make a decision that could be appealed. Plaintiff appealed, contending that the zoning enforcement officer rendered a decision that could be appealed either because (1) he actually made a determination regarding the merit of the violations alleged in her letter that he declined to communicate, or (2) because town zoning regulations obligated him to respond to or act upon the illegality alleged in Plaintiff's letter. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the zoning enforcement officer’s action or inaction with respect to Plaintiff’s letter did not give rise to an independent “decision” from which an appeal to the board would lie.View "Reardon 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