United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Kenyon Street Hartford, LLC, (“Rooming House” or
the “Kenyon Street LLC”), a Connecticut limited
liability company that operated a rooming on Kenyon Street in
Hartford, and its sole member, Paul Rosow, filed this lawsuit
alleging violations of statutory and constitutional rights by
the City of Hartford (“the City” or
“Hartford”). The claims relate specifically to an
ordinance passed by the City that required rooming houses to
be owner-occupied in order to be licensed. Plaintiffs allege
that the ordinance was passed to deliberately target Mr.
Rosow, who lives in Arizona and would be unable to meet the
now move for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below
the summary judgment will be GRANTED.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Municipal Code defines a rooming house as “a
residential structure” for which the principal purpose
“is to provide lodging, but not meals, for
compensation, by pre-arrangement for definite periods, for
three (3) or more persons.” Hartford Municipal Code
Article VII, § 18-161. The City of Hartford requires
licenses for businesses that operate rooming houses. Hartford
Municipal Code Article VII, § 18-163.
1986, Paul Rosow purchased the property at 62-64 Kenyon
Street, which he believes has operated as a rooming house
since the 1900s. Rosow Aff. at ¶ 7, ECF No. 45-2
(“Rosow Aff.”). Mr. Rosow continued to operate
the property as a rooming house from 1986 until he sold the
property in April, 2017, after this litigation had begun.
Id. ¶¶ 6, 21. At some point, Mr. Rosow
transferred the Rooming House to an LLC, 62-64 Kenyon Street
Hartford, LLC; Mr. Rosow was the LLC's sole member. Def.
56(a)(1) Stmt. ¶ 1, ECF No 50-1.
Rosow lived in Hartford, Connecticut from 1985 until 2014,
when he moved to Scottsdale, Arizona. Rosow Aff. ¶¶
4-5. He never resided at the Rooming House, however, and
instead appointed a designated representative to reside there
and manage the property, as was permitted at that time under
prior Hartford zoning laws. Id. ¶ 7. While the
house was located in a residential zone, it was considered to
be a pre-existing non-conforming use, and its commercial use
as a rooming house was exempt. Def. 56(a)(1) Stmt. ¶ 5.
house licenses must be renewed every year. In 2014, Mr.
Rosow's license renewal was delayed. See Loos
Dep. at 66, Def. Mot. Summ. J., Ex. 4, ECF No. 44-4. City
officials sent inspectors to the property twice unannounced,
including an inspection by Daniel Loos, then-Director of the
City's Licenses and Inspections Division, himself.
Id. at 49-50. The City eventually granted the
license in 2014, however, and continued to grant the license
throughout Mr. Rosow's ownership of the property. Def.
56(a)(1) Stmt. ¶ 4, 6, 9.
13, 2015, the City of Hartford enacted an ordinance that
required that any individual seeking a license to operate a
rooming house must reside at the rooming house in order to
obtain a license. 26(f) Rep. ¶ 8, ECF No. 18. The
ordinance specifically mentioned three zones - including Zone
R-7, where the Rooming House was located - where “no
license or license renewal shall be issued to a licensee who
is not the owner or majority owner of the property.”
See Hartford Municipal Code Article VII, §
the text of the ordinance applied to all rooming houses
within those zones, 62-64 Kenyon Street was the only rooming
house affected by the change. 26(f) Rep. ¶ 18. Mr. Rosow
alleges that he was told by the Corporation Counsel for the
City of Hartford that the Rooming House would not be issued a
new license in June 2016 unless he moved into the property.
Rosow Aff. ¶ 19.
point in late 2015, Mr. Rosow began to try to sell the
Rooming House. He alleges that he had finalized a deal with
Michele LeConche to purchase the property. Ms. LeConche was
to be joined by a business partner, and the three tentatively
agreed on a purchase price of $375, 000. LeConche Aff ¶
3, Pl. Rep. to Def. Surreply Br., Ex. C. Ms. LeConche,
however, met with Daniel Loos, who informed her that if they
purchased the hotel, either her or her partner would have to
live at the property. Id. ¶ 4-5. That initial
purchase then fell through.
October 30, 2015, Mr. Rosow and his attorney submitted a
request under Connecticut's Freedom of Information Act.
See Rosow Aff. ¶ 22. The request sought copies
of all rooming house licenses issued by the city from 2012
until present, as well as “copies of any and all
non-privileged” voice recordings of meetings, meeting
minutes, proposals, referendums, correspondence, drafts,
memorandums, letters, notices, or other documents related to
either the ordinance or the Rooming House. See
Freedom of Information Act Request at 1, Rosow Aff., Ex 10.
In response, Mr. Rosow alleges that there were
“hundreds of e-mail communications between [City]
employees and several individuals associated with an
unincorporated group known as the West End Civic
Association.” Rosow Aff. ¶ 23.
e-mails document repeated complaints by WECA members about
the Rooming House. See, e.g, E-mail from Carolyn
West to Shawn Wooden, October 28, 2014, Rosow Aff., Ex. 11;
E-mail from Sara Bronin to Sandra Bobowski, September 4,
2014, Rosow Aff., Ex 12. WECA members also appear to have
urged City officials to suspend the license, and continually
pressed City officials to complete unannounced visits in
order to ensure that the resident management was present.
See, e.g, E-mail from Carolyn West to Daniel J.
Loos, October 28, 2014, Rosow Aff. Ex. 11. In reaction, one
inspector for the city noted that “I just feel like
we're singling him out and I'm concerned that I may
be subject to a harassment suit” when requested to make
another surprise visit to the property. E-mail from Elisha
Barrows to Daniel Loos, October 28, 2014, Rosow Aff., Ex. 11.
e-mails also revealed WECA involvement in drafting the
ordinance at issue in this case. For instance, on May 11,
2015, a member of the WECA wrote to the then-Mayor Segarra.
See E-mail form Toni Gold to Pedro Segarra, May 11,
2015, Rosow Aff., Ex. 15. The member noted that they
“met with Lisa Sylvestri [sic] of the Corporation
Counsel's office regarding the deficiencies of the
ordinance that emerged from her office last week.”
Id. Other e-mails show the City responding to the
concerns of WECA members regarding what the members were
concerned would be a “weak ordinance.”
records search also produced a memorandum from the
Corporation Counsel, dated June 30, 2015 entitled:
“City of Hartford Arguments to Support Owner-Occupancy
of Rooming Houses in Single Family Zones (R-6, R-7 and
R-8).” See Rosow Aff., Ex. 16. The memorandum,
which Mr. Rosow alleges was drafted in conversation with
WECA, Rosow Aff. ¶ 29, states:
The residency requirement is legally ‘reasonable',
[sic] that is, it is a rational effort to alleviate a problem
or avoid a potential problem. The short term and transient
occupancy inherent in a rooming house is inconsistent with
the neighborhood structure that, especially, single-family
residential zones are designed for, and even a resident agent
won't have any long-term commitment to the building or
neighborhood. Therefore, requiring owner residency is a
reasonable regulatory step to alleviate that inconsistency
while still allowing a grand-fathered use.”
Id. The memorandum also noted that Hartford
“contains just two licensed, grand-fathered rooming
houses in single-family zones: 62 Kenyon Street (not
owner-occupied) and 131 Tremont Street
January 12, 2016, the City adopted a new zoning map, which
altered the labeling of areas within the City. The map no
longer designated residential areas, but instead changed to
“neighborhood” classifications and eliminated the
old R-7 zone where the Rooming House is located. Under these
new requirements, according to Michael A. Fuschi, Director of
Development Services for the City, “the owner occupancy
requirement in the rooming house ordinance, Municipal Code
Section 16-164, will not be applied” to new owners
given revision in zoning map.” Fuschi Aff. ¶ 6,
Def. Summ. J. Mot., ECF No. 44-2 Ex. 1. As the City explained
previously, Zone R-4, R-7, and R-8 “ceased to
exist.” See Def. Mem., ECF No. 24-1, 2.
Rosow eventually sold the property on April 2, 2017 for $215,
000. Rosow Aff. ¶ 22; see also Def. 56(a)(1)
Stmt. ¶ 7 (noting sale). The new owner is the manager of
Mr. Rosow's other properties in the City, and the sale
was negotiated directly between Mr. Rosow and Kenyon, LLC,
the new owner. Def. 56(a)(1) Stmt. ¶ 8; see
also Rosow Dep. at 72. The new owners were likely to
continue to receive a license to operate the property as a
rooming house. Def. 56(a)(1) Stmt. ¶ 10; see
also Fuschi Aff. ¶ 6.
filed this Complaint on April 20, 2016, seeking damages and
injunctive relief. See Compl., ECF No. 1. They
alleged that the ordinance was unconstitutional and violated
the federal Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq.
See Compl. ¶¶ 68-74, 81-84. They also
alleged violations of the Connecticut's state
Constitution, the Connecticut Fair Housing Act, C.G.S. §
46a-36 et seq., and state zoning laws. Compl. ¶¶
80-81, 85-87. Plaintiffs simultaneously moved for a
preliminary injunction to prevent enforcement of the
ordinance. Pl. Prelim. Injun. Mot., ECF No. 2. The parties
then stipulated that “Defendant City of Hartford shall
not deny, modify, suspend or revoke 62-64 Kenyon Street
Hartford, LLC's rooming house license . . . during the
pendency of this litigation, including any appeal” and
that Plaintiffs would not pursue a preliminary injunction.
Stipulation, ECF No. 16.
City moved to dismiss the Complaint and stay discovery. Def.
Mot to Dismiss, ECF No. 24. It argued that the case should be
dismissed because subsequent events - primarily, the new
zoning map adopted in January, 2016 - had rendered
Plaintiff's claims moot. The Court denied the motion,
finding that there remained a risk of economic loss and that
it was unclear whether the ordinance was truly unenforceable.
Ruling at 9, ECF No. 33.
City now moves for summary judgment on all counts. Def. Mot.
Summ. J., ECF No. 44. It argues that Mr. Rosow lacks standing
in his individual capacity and that, because the Kenyon
Street LLC has sold the Rooming House, any claims for
injunctive relief are moot. Def. Mem. in Support of Mot.
Summ. J. at 3-4, ECF No. 44-1 (“Def. Mem.”).
Additionally, it argues that the plaintiffs lack an
entitlement to a rooming license, and that state zoning laws
and the Connecticut Constitution do not provide a private
right of action. Id. at 8-11. Finally, the City
argues it is entitled to summary judgment on the federal and
state fair housing claims because Plaintiffs have failed to
demonstrate a disparate impact on a protected group, and
Plaintiffs have alleged no actionable conduct on the part of
the City. Id. at 11-14.
responded and stated that they are no longer contesting the
state constitutional or zoning law claims, and that they are
no longer seeking injunctive relief. Pl. Opp. Br. at 16. They
argue, however, that the City has misconstrued their federal
constitutional claims, and that the City violated their
rights to equal protection based either on a class-of-one or
selective enforcement theory. Id. at 19. Finally,
they renew their state and federal fair housing claims.
Id. at 23-25.