Week of May 19
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.
- AC35612 - Greenwood Manor, LLC v. Planning & Zoning Commission
During a review of its current zoning regulations, the attorney for a property owner wrote to the planning commission and strongly urged it to downgrade the zoning of his property from Residence A to Residence C, which would allow the construction of condominiums. The commission later convened a public hearing which was to include consideration of the owner’s request where it received a petition with over 1,000 signatures to leave the zone as it was. The commission then voted five to three to take no action on the plaintiff’s property, and leave it zoned as it was. A subsequent vote on changing the zone map also left the plaintiff’s property it was originally designated. The property owner appealed. The issue became whether or not the property owner was aggrieved. The Trial Court found that it was not aggrieved, and the Appellate Court affirmed. The property was not the subject of a zoning application, and the zoning classification of the property was not altered, amended or otherwise affected by the commission’s other regulation changes. In order to be statutorily aggrieved, the plaintiff must be the owner of the land involved in the decision, under § C.G.S. 8-8. That does not mean everyone within an entire zone is entitled to appeal any action affecting that zone. Such an interpretation would confer standing upon everyone within the zone. To allow that would be a bizarre result, because every time a commission decided not to change anyone’s zone, everyone within that zone could appeal. A property owner cannot appeal a commission’s decision to take no action with respect to a zoning classification when no formal application has been filed. Allowing appeals under that scenario would make land use commissions reticent to even discuss potential changes on an informal basis. The Court concluded that in addition to not being statutorily aggrieved, the property owner was not classically aggrieved, because there had been no decision impacting their legal interest in their land.
[An interesting and lengthy footnote discusses the issue of whether or not, as occurred in this case, can a buyer of the property, after an appeal has been commenced, be properly substituted as a party plaintiff/appellant, and enjoy the aggrievement status of their predecessor-in-title. The footnote cast doubt on the ability of a buyer to obtain “standing”. The footnote goes on to say that because the plaintiff lacked aggrievement under any test, he did not have to “delve into that hornet’s nest” further.]
[A final footnote adds that since the plaintiff was not aggrieved, the Court did not have to consider all of the bold allegations that commissioners were biased against the plaintiff or improperly influenced by the mayor.]
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.