Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Fairfield, Bridgeport
Linda R. Gibbons et al.
Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Fairfield et al
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
Dale W. Radcliffe, J.
On February 12, 2015, one Amanda Engelman, acting on behalf of 6 Catherine Street, LLC, applied to the Defendant Fairfield Zoning Board of Appeals, seeking a variance of S. 5.2.4 of the Fairfield Zoning Regulations. The request concerned property known as 6 Catherine Street, Fairfield, which is owned by a limited liability company, 6 Catherine Street, LLC (ROR 1).
6 Catherine Street is located in an A Residence Zone (ROR 13). It is nonconforming as to lot area, in that it contains 8, 271 square feet, rather than the 9, 375 square foot minimum acreage applicable to the zone. The variance concerning the .190 acre parcel was requested, in anticipation of constructing a breezeway and a two (2) story attached one car garage (ROR 1). An existing detached one car garage, which is nonconforming as to setback, was slated for demolition (ROR 10; ROR 1).
In the application, the representative of 6 Catherine Street, LLC claimed, in the area of the form designated for specifying the alleged hardship, that 6 Catherine Street is a nonconforming lot, and that the existing detached one car garage (ROR 10) is " structurally unstable due to rot and termite damage." A variance of the rear setback requirement of 30 feet to 24 feet was requested, so that a " turn-around" area could be provided, to enable vehicles to safely exit the driveway, on to the public street (ROR 1; ROR 7, p. 6).
A public hearing concerning the requested variance was scheduled for March 5, 2015, beginning at 3 p.m. in the first floor Conference Room of the John J. Sullivan Independence Hall, 725 Old Post Road, Fairfield. Notice of the public hearing was published in the Fairfield Citizen on February 20, 2015 (ROR 2), and February 27, 2015 (ROR 3), pursuant to S. 8-7(d) of the General Statutes.
No public hearing was held on March 5, 2015. A severe snow storm forced the closing of Sullivan Independence Hall, and no meeting of the Fairfield Zoning Board of Appeals or public hearing concerning any application was convened on March 5, 2015.
The scheduled Zoning Board of Appeals meeting was canceled, and was called to order one week later on March 12, 2015 (Supplemental ROR). Notice of the March 12 session was published on the Town of Fairfield Website (Supplemental ROR), but no newspaper notice of the meeting was provided.
At the March 12 session, Amanda Engelman presented the application on behalf of 6 Catherine Street, LLC. She argued that the hardship which was requested would relocate the garage to a more central location on the property, thereby allowing for better driveway access and safety (ROR 7, p. 6). She also stated that the existing garage, which is nonconforming as to its setback, would be demolished, thus eliminating an existing nonconformity.
Neighbors appeared at the meeting in opposition to the requested variance. A petition was presented (ROR 8), along with a letter submitted on behalf of the owner of 130 Nichols Street, an abutting parcel (ROR 9).
Following the close of the public hearing, the Fairfield Zoning Board of Appeals approved the requested variance, in a unanimous vote (ROR 7, p. 6). The Board provided no collective reasons in support of its decision, and failed to describe any exceptional difficulty or unusual hardship applicable to the property, as required by S. 8-7 of the General Statutes, in the minutes of the meeting (ROR 7). No transcript of the public hearing or the Board's deliberations, is available.
Notice of the decision was published in the March 20, 2015 edition of The Fairfield Citizen (ROR 6), and the Plaintiffs, Linda R. Gibbons, Edward Morawski and Mary V. Morawski, instituted this timely appeal.
The Defendant, 6 Catherine Street, LLC, failed to appear, and a default for failure to appear was entered on July 6, 2015.
The only remaining Defendant is the Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Fairfield.
Pleading and proof of aggrievement are a prerequisite to a trial court's jurisdiction over the subject matter of an appeal. Jolly, Inc. v. Zoning Board of Appeals, 237 Conn. 184, 192, 676 A.2d 831 (1996); Winchester Woods Associates v. Planning & Zoning Commission, 219 Conn. 303, 307, 592 A.2d 953 (1991).
The question of aggrievement is one of fact, to be determined by the trial court. Primerica v. Planning & Zoning Commission, 211 ...