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Truskauskas v. Zoning Board of Appeals of Town of Harwinton

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

January 15, 2019

DON TRUSKAUSKAS
v.
ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS OF THE TOWN OF HARWINTON

          Argued October 23, 2018

         Procedural History

         Appeals from the decisions by the defendant ordering the plaintiff to cease and desist certain activities on certain of his real property, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Litchfield, where the court, Pickard, J., granted the motions filed by Jessica Genovese et al. to intervene in both appeals; thereafter, the appeals were consolidated, and the court, Danaher, J., approved the parties' stipulations for judgments in both appeals and rendered judgments thereon; subsequently, the court, J. Moore, J., granted in part the motion for contempt filed by the intervenors, and the plaintiff filed a consolidated appeal with this court. Affirmed.

          Don Truskauskas, self-represented, the appellant (plaintiff).

          Thomas W. Mott, for the appellees (intervenors).

          Alvord, Elgo and Bright, Js.

          OPINION

          BRIGHT, J.

         The plaintiff, Don Truskauskas, appeals from the judgments of the trial court finding him in contempt[1] for violating the terms of a stipulated judgment involving himself, the defendant, the Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Harwinton (board), and the intervenors, Ronald Genovese and Jessica Genovese, who own property abutting that of the plaintiff.[2] On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court improperly interpreted the March 30, 2016 stipulated judgment and found that he wilfully had violated the stipulated judgment.[3] We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

         The following facts and procedural history, which are ascertained from the record and the trial court's memorandum of decision, inform our review. The court found: ‘‘[These cases] arose as [appeals] from orders issued against the plaintiff by the [board]. On appeal, the [board] confirmed that [the] plaintiff was using his residential property for commercial use in violation of the Harwinton Zoning Regulations [regulations]. To resolve [these cases after the plaintiff appealed from the board's decisions to the Superior Court], the parties entered into a joint stipulation. After [the court] conducted a canvass of, inter alia, the plaintiff, the joint stipulation was entered as a judgment of the court on March 30, 2016.

         ‘‘The joint stipulation, now the judgment, provide[s], in [relevant] part . . .

         ‘‘1. The plaintiff could not conduct any commercial activities at his residential property, including activities related to his contracting business, Autumn Contracting, LLC. This provision, however, did not ‘apply to . . . other activities as permitted by the [regulations]' [as set forth in paragraph 2 of the judgment].

         ‘‘2. The plaintiff's 2000 Mack Dump Truck [(dump truck)] could be parked overnight at his residence in accordance with a previous [board] decision, and could be used for farm or personal use, but this dump truck could not be used for the plaintiff's contracting business or other commercial purposes [as set forth in paragraph 5 of the stipulated judgment].

         ‘‘3. The plaintiff was required permanently to remove from his residential property all ‘equipment, tools, and/ or materials used for [the] plaintiff's contracting business or any other commercial activity . . . within seven (7) calendar days after [the] stipulated judgment is fully executed, and shall be maintained by [the] plaintiff off the subject premises.' This provision did not apply ‘to tools kept in the plaintiff's pickup truck that are used for his contracting business or other tools or equipment as allowed by the [r]egulations' [as set forth in paragraph 3 of the stipulated judgment].

         ‘‘4. The plaintiff shall be able to use his residential property as he wishes as long as he complies with the stipulated judgment, ‘the [regulations], and other applicable law' [as set forth in paragraph 8 of the stipulated judgment].

         ‘‘The judgment also permitted the plaintiff to conduct farming operations on, and to maintain the farm equipment specified in exhibit A at, his residential property. This farm equipment was further depicted in photographs appended to the stipulated judgment.

         ‘‘The [intervenors] moved for an order of contempt, arguing that the plaintiff has violated several aspects of the [stipulated] judgment. Specifically, they claimed that the plaintiff has violated (1) paragraph 2 by continuing to conduct commercial activities at his residence, (2) paragraph 3 by failing to remove commercial, nonexempted equipment from the residential property, and (3) paragraphs 2 and 5 by regularly moving heavy equipment in and out of his residential property.

         ‘‘The plaintiff denied that he had conducted, after the judgment, commercial activities at his residence. Moreover, the plaintiff claimed that he maintained certain heavy equipment at his residence so that he could conduct permitted activities, namely, building a large storage barn and a pool there. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that he, after the date of judgment, used heavy equipment to bring fill to his residential property and to smooth the fill to level the ground so that he could construct the storage barn. Finally, the plaintiff argued that some of the allegedly contemptuous activity was otherwise allowed by the town [of Harwinton] (1) by means of prior zoning rulings, or (2) because he undertook such activity for his personal use.''

         Following a hearing, the court found that the plaintiff wilfully had violated the stipulated judgment ‘‘by continuing to conduct his commercial enterprise out of his residential property and by using his [dump truck] for commercial purposes.'' Specifically, the court found that the plaintiff was in ...


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