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Town of Griswold v. Camputaro

Supreme Court of Connecticut

May 21, 2019

TOWN OF GRISWOLD
v.
PASQUALE CAMPUTARO ET AL.

          Argued January 22, 2019

         Procedural History

         Action for, inter alia, a temporary and permanent injunction prohibiting the defendants from operating an asphalt plant, and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of New London and transferred to the Superior Court in the judicial district of New London at Norwich, where the court, Hendel, J., granted the defendants' motion to consolidate this action with an appeal filed by the defendants from a decision by the Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Griswold denying an appeal from a cease and desist order; thereafter, the court, Booth, J., granted the defendants' motion to substitute Pasquale Camputaro, Jr., executor of the estate of Pasquale Camputaro, as a defendant; subsequently, the court, Handy, J., rendered judgment in accordance with a stipulation of the parties; thereafter, the case was transferred to the Superior Court in the judicial district of New London; subsequently, the court, Cosgrove, J., granted the defendants' motion to cite in American Industries, Inc., as a defendant and the parties' joint motion to open and modify the judgment; thereafter, the court, Vacchelli, J., denied the motions to intervene filed by Kathryn B. Londe and Jeffrey Ryan, and the proposed intervenors appealed to the Appellate Court, Lavine, Mullins and Mihalakos, Js., which reversed the trial court's denial of the motions to intervene and remanded the case for further proceedings, and the plaintiff and the defendant Pasquale Camputaro, Jr., executor of the estate of Pasquale Camputaro, et al., on the granting of certification, filed a joint appeal with this court. Affirmed.

          Harry B. Heller, with whom, on the brief, was Mark K. Branse, for the appellants (plaintiff and defendant Pasquale Camputaro, Jr.).

          Derek V. Oatis, for the appellees (proposed inter-venors).

          Robinson, C. J., and Palmer, McDonald, D'Auria, Kahn, Ecker and Vertefeuille, Js.

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM.

         This certified appeal arises from a consolidated zoning appeal and enforcement action relating to a manufacturing facility located in Jewett City, which had been subject to a long-standing stipulated judgment imposing various restrictions on its operation since 1997 (1997 stipulated judgment). After a short calendar hearing held on November 16, 2015, the trial court opened and modified the 1997 stipulated judgment by agreement of the parties. The issue on appeal concerns the fact that the public had been informed that the parties' joint motion to open and modify the judgment would not beheard until one week later, at a short calendar hearing scheduled to occur on November 23, 2015. A landowner who resides near the manufacturing facility, Kathryn B. Londé, appeared at the publicly noticed short calendar hearing on November 23, 2015, intending to a file a motion to intervene pursuant to General Statutes § 22a-19[1] for the purpose of raising claims of environmental harm, only to learn that the hearing had occurred one week earlier and that the 1997 stipulated judgment already had been modified. Londé nonetheless filed her motion to intervene. On December 9, 2015, another proposed intervenor, Jeffrey Ryan, also filed a motion to intervene pursuant to § 22a-19, alleging environmental harm. The trial court denied the motions to intervene as untimely.

         Londé and Ryan (proposed intervenors) appealed to the Appellate Court, which reversed the judgment of the trial court. Griswold v. Camputaro, 177 Conn.App. 779, 802, 173 A.3d 959 (2017). The Appellate Court concluded that the trial court's expedited consideration of the parties' joint motion to open and modify the 1997 stipulated judgment ‘‘violated our rules of practice, '' ‘‘violated the [proposed] intervenors' right to timely, accurate notice, '' and denied the proposed intervenors ‘‘their statutory right[s] to intervene pursuant to § 22a-19 (a)'' and to ‘‘participate in the hearing on the stipulated settlement'' pursuant to General Statutes § 8-8 (n). (Emphasis in original.) Id., 796, 799. We affirm the judgment of the Appellate Court.

         The record reflects the following relevant facts and procedural history. Pasquale Camputaro owned and operated an asphalt manufacturing facility, American Sand & Gravel, Inc., located at 630 Plainfield Road in Jewett City. On December 2, 1994, the Planning and Zoning Commission of the Town of Griswold issued a cease and desist order directing the original defendants-Pasquale Camputaro and American Sand & Gravel, Inc.[2]-to discontinue the use and operation of the property as an asphalt manufacturing facility. The original defendants moved to dismiss the cease and desist order, but their motion was denied. The original defendants subsequently filed an appeal with the Griswold Zoning Board of Appeals, which refused to consider the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. They then filed an appeal in the Superior Court (administrative appeal).

         In the meantime, on January 10, 1995, the plaintiff, the town of Griswold (town), filed a complaint and request for injunctive relief against the original defendants, alleging that the operation of the property as an asphalt manufacturing facility violated the town's zoning regulations (zoning enforcement action). The original defendants responded that their use of the property predated the zoning regulations and, therefore, was a valid preexisting nonconforming use. The trial court consolidated the original defendants' administrative appeal with the town's zoning enforcement action.

         In 1997, Camputaro died, and his son and executor of his estate, Pasquale Camputaro, Jr., was substituted as a defendant. Soon thereafter, the parties reached a settlement, and the 1997 stipulated judgment was approved by the court on August 4, 1997.

         Approximately seventeen years later, the town began to receive complaints that the operation of the asphalt manufacturing facility violated the 1997 stipulated judgment. Although there had been no activity in the case since the entry of the 1997 stipulated judgment, Camputaro, Jr., moved on October 28, 2015 to cite in American Industries, Inc., which is the operator of the asphalt manufacturing facility, as an additional party because it ‘‘has been an integral party responsible for the compliance with'' the 1997 stipulated judgment. Camputaro, Jr., also filed a second motion to substitute himself as a defendant for Pasquale Camputaro.

         On November 12, 2015, the parties filed a joint motion to open and modify the 1997stipulated judgment. As pertinent to this appeal, the proposed modified judgment included changes to ‘‘the restrictions on the operation'' of the asphalt manufacturing facility ‘‘[i]n recognition of the fact that governmental projects now require that paving occur during nighttime hours . . . .'' Most significantly, the modified judgment permitted the asphalt manufacturing facility more than twice the amount of ‘‘extra operating hours'' per year.[3] The clerk of the court ...


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