February 2, 2017
from Superior Court, judicial district of Fairfield,
to recover damages for, inter alia, the alleged taking by
inverse condemnation of certain of the plaintiff's real
property, and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court
in the judicial district of Fairfield and tried to the court,
Radcliffe, J.; judgment for the defendants, from
which the plaintiff appealed to this court.
Angus Cole, for the appellant (plaintiff).
R. Plumb, for the appellees (defendants).
Sheldon, Mullins and Beach, Js.
plaintiff landowner brought this action against the defendant
town and its zoning board of appeals alleging that, by
denying certain requested variances that would have allowed
him to construct a home on certain of his real property, the
defendants had taken his property through inverse
condemnation and had been unjustly enriched thereby. The
trial court rendered judgment for the defendants, from which
the plaintiff appealed to this court. Held that the
trial court properly determined that the plaintiff had failed
to prove his claim for inverse condemnation: the
plaintiff's claim that he had a reasonable
investment-backed expectation of use of the property that was
thwarted by the defendants' regulations was unavailing,
as he conceded that the difficulty occasioned by the
deficient width of the building lot could be remedied with
little expense by adjusting the building line and inserting a
certain limitation in his deed and, accordingly, the
application of the zoning regulations did not amount to a
practical confiscation of the property or infringe on the
plaintiff's reasonable investment-backed expectations of
use and enjoyment of the property; moreover, there was no
merit to the plaintiff's claim that the defendants had
been unjustly enriched by preventing him from developing his
property, which abutted certain open space owned by the town,
this court having determined that the application of the
town's regulations did not result in a taking of the
plaintiff, Anthony Santos, appeals from the judgment of the
trial court in favor of the defendants, the town of Stratford
(town) and its Zoning Board of Appeals (board). On appeal,
the plaintiff contends that the court improperly held that
the plaintiff had failed to prove his claims for (1) inverse
condemnation and (2) unjust enrichment. We affirm the
judgment of the trial court.
following facts, as found by the court or not contested, are
relevant to this appeal. The plaintiff purchased an
unimproved parcel of land in Stratford at a tax sale
conducted by the town in May, 2002. The prior owner had owned
the property for approximately seventeen years, but had never
attempted to develop the property. The town had never
formally approved the property as a building lot. In noticing
the sale of the property, the town included a warning that
the property had not been guaranteed to be buildable under
the town's current zoning regulations. The property was
sold to the plaintiff for approximately one half of its
assessed value, and the prior owner made no attempt to
exercise his right to redeem the property in the six months
following the sale.
the sale was complete, the plaintiff attempted to develop the
property as a residential building lot. Because the property
contained wetlands, the plaintiff applied for a permit from
the town's Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission.
He then learned that two variances were required in order to
build a home on the lot. One variance was required in order
to construct a building near wetlands, and another was
required because the lot, by application of the zoning
regulations,  did not meet the lot width requirement set
forth in those regulations. The board denied the requested
variances, noting that because the plaintiff's
predecessor in title had created the plaintiff's lot in a
way that did not conform to the town's zoning
regulations, the board lacked the power to grant a variance.
The plaintiff appealed, and the trial court affirmed the
board's decision, reasoning that the plaintiff had failed
to establish that the denial of the variance would cause him
an unusual hardship. The plaintiff appealed to this court,
and this court affirmed. See Santos v. Zoning
Board of Appeals, 100 Conn.App. 644, 918 A.2d 303, cert.
denied, 282 Conn. 930, 926 A.2d 669 (2007).
2004, while his appeal from the board's decision was
pending, the plaintiff commenced the present action against
the defendants alleging that the act of denying the requested
variances by the board (1) constituted a taking of his
property through inverse condemnation; and (2) resulted in
the town's unjust enrichment. The trial court rendered
judgment for the defendants, holding that (1) the
plaintiff failed to establish his claim for inverse
condemnation, in large part because he had failed to
demonstrate that he had a reasonable ...