Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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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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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court in favor of the Commissioner of Transportation (Defendant) on Plaintiff’s complaint alleging, inter alia, that Defendant negligently authorized Hallberg Contracting Company to deposit construction materials on Plaintiff’s property. With Defendant’s consent, Hallberg, a subcontractor on a highway reconstruction project, entered into an oral contract with a third party to use the property for stockpiling construction materials related to a highway reconstruction project. Hallberg deposited thirty-two truckloads of material on the property. The trial court found that Defendant negligently authorized Hallberg to dispose of the construction materials on the property but that Plaintiff failed to mitigate its damages. The court then awarded $29,855 in damages. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court’s award of damages was not clearly erroneous; (2) the trial court’s finding that Plaintiff failed to mitigate its damages was supported by sufficient evidence in the record; and (3) the trial court properly did not award Plaintiff damages for lost profits. View "Sun Val, LLC v. Commissioner of Transportation" on Justia Law

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In this dispute over compensation owed after property was taken by eminent domain, the Supreme Court reversed the interest awarded by the trial court and otherwise affirmed the judgment, holding that the trial court lacked authority to set a rate of interest other than the default rate after it rendered its judgment of compensation. Plaintiff, the city of Hartford, took certain property owned by three defendants. Defendants appealed from the statement of compensation filed by the city. The trial court sustained the appeal and increased the amount of compensation. The court then ordered the city to pay interest at the rate of 7.22 percent. The Supreme Court reversed as to the rate of interest and offer of compromise interest, holding (1) the trial court properly valued the property; but (2) the trial court exceeded its authority under Conn. Gen. Stat. 37-3c in awarding interest at the rate of 7.22 percent after it rendered judgment sustaining Defendants’ appeal because Defendants were entitled only to the default rate of interest provided in section 37-3c. The Court remanded the case with direction to award the default rate of interest under section 37-3c. View "Hartford v. CBV Parking Hartford, LLC" 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 Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court determining that Plaintiff, Walgreen Eastern Company, Inc., had established aggrievement under Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-117a by showing that the valuation of Plaintiff’s property by Defendant, the Town of West Hartford, was excessive. The Court further affirmed the trial court’s judgment determining the true and actual value of the subject property and concluding that the Town’s valuation of the subject property was not manifestly excessive under Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-119. After the Board of Assessment Appeals (Board) upheld the town assessor’s valuation, Plaintiff appealed to the superior court, which (1) found Plaintiff satisfied its burden of proving aggrievement; and (2) rendered judgment in favor of Plaintiff on its section 12-117a count and in favor of the Town on Plaintiff’s section 12-119 count. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the relief awarded by the trial court was sufficient because the court properly determined the true and actual value of Plaintiff’s property; and (2) the trial court properly determined that Plaintiff did not meet its burden to establish a claim under section 12-119. View "Walgreen Eastern Co. v. Town of West Hartford" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court finding that Defendants had trespassed on property that Plaintiff owned. When Plaintiff commenced this action alleging trespass Defendants claimed that Plaintiff could not establish its ownership or possessory interest in the property on which Defendants were building. The trial court ruled in favor of Plaintiff and issued a permanent mandatory injunction ordering Defendants to remove structures from Plaintiff’s property that were not authorized by the permits issued to Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s finding that Plaintiff owned the subject property, and (2) the scope of the trial court’s injunctive relief was not overly broad. View "FirstLight Hydro Generating Co. v. Stewart" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court dismissing Plaintiff’s appeal from the decision of the Town of Lyme and its Board of Selectmen (collectively, Defendants) determining the lost or uncertain boundaries of the westerly end of Brockway Ferry Road pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 13a-39. On appeal, Plaintiff challenged the subject matter jurisdiction of the Board and the trial court and argued that the trial court’s determination of the highway’s width was clearly erroneous. In affirming, the Supreme Court held (1) the trial court correctly determined that the Board had jurisdiction to define the highway’s boundaries under section 13a-39 despite the absence of a prior judicial determination regarding the highway’s legal status; (2) the proceedings before the Board complied with section 13a-39, and thus the trial court was not divested of subject matter jurisdiction; and (3) the trial court’s finding of the highway’s boundaries was not clearly erroneous. View "Marchesi v. Board of Selectmen of the Town of Lyme" on Justia Law

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In certain circumstances, Conn. Gen. Stat. 42-150bb permits an award of attorney’s fees to a defendant when a plaintiff withdraws an action as of right pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-80 prior to a hearing on the merits. Plaintiff filed a foreclosure action against Defendant, but when the action had been pending for almost one year, Plaintiff withdrew its action as a matter of right prior to any hearing on the merits. Defendant sought an award of attorney’s fees pursuant to section 42-150bb. The trial court denied the motion. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that once a defendant moves for an award of attorney’s fees pursuant to section 42-150bb after a termination of proceedings that in some way favors the defendant, a rebuttable presumption exists that the defendant is entitled to attorney’s fees, and it is for the trial court to determine whether such an award is proper in light of the totality of the circumstances. View "Connecticut Housing Finance Authority v. Alfaro" 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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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment for the Town of Hebron on this complaint brought by Plaintiffs seeking damages for a temporary taking, temporary nuisance, and tortious interference with Plaintiffs’ business expectancies. The trial court concluded that Plaintiffs’ claims were barred by the doctrine of res judicata because they arose out of the same operative facts as Plaintiffs’ earlier-filed claim for injunctive relief against the Town. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that Plaintiffs failed to identify a sufficiently compelling reason to exempt their claims from the preclusive effect of res judicata. View "Wellswood Columbia, LLC v. Town of Hebron" on Justia Law