Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Zoning, Planning & Land Use
by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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