Week of April 16

Welcome to CT Law of the Land: Developments in the law which can impact the state and municipal agency approval process for land use applications in Connecticut happen on almost a daily basis.  These can range from important court decisions, to legislative changes, all of which can dramatically impact the approval and review process.  On this page we will try to highlight some of those changes that might be of interest to our clients and prospective clients.  We invite you to check back regularly to receive potentially important tips.

In this new Appellate Court decision, the plaintiff applied to the Planning & Zoning Commission for approval of a 38-unit residential subdivision.  The application was denied, and the plaintiff appealed.  In his appeal, the plaintiff asserted that one of the commission members was a former acquaintance who now disliked him and should not have participated in the deliberations.  The plaintiff had not brought that claim to the attention of the P&Z Commission for fear of angering the commission members.  This case held that when an applicant feels that his due process rights have been impaired on account of bias of an agency member, they must raise the claim prior to, or during the administrative hearing.  In this case, however, that same commissioner also made disparaging statements about the applicant that it did not know about until the appeal was filed.  Therefore, the applicant could not have raised concern to the Commission about statements of which it was unaware.  While failure to raise a claim of disqualification with reasonable promptness after learning of the grounds ordinarily constitutes a waiver, bias claims based upon unheard statements hostile to plaintiff, cannot be deemed waived.  The transcript, in turn, revealed that this commissioner spoke aggressively against the application, to the extent that she dominated the meeting.  Accordingly, her bias against the applicant was reason to sustain the appeal.  The matter was remanded to the Commission to reconsider the application without participating of the disqualified commissioner.

The facts and holdings of any case may be redacted, paraphrased or condensed for ease of reading.  No summary can be an exact rendering of any decision, however, so interested readers are referred to the full decisions.  The docket number of each case is a hyperlink to the Connecticut Judicial Department online slip opinion.  ©2014 Pullman & Comley, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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