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Farmington-Girard, LLC v. Planning and Zoning Commission

Appellate Court of Connecticut

June 25, 2019

FARMINGTON-GIRARD, LLC
v.
PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION of the City of Hartford The Pamela Corporation et al.
v.
Planning and Zoning Commission of the City of Hartford

         Argued March 12, 2019

         Appeal from the Superior Court in the judicial district of Hartford and transferred to the Land Use Litigation Docket, Berger, J.,

Page 777

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 778

          David F. Sherwood, Glastonbury, for the appellant (plaintiff Farmington-Girard, LLC).

         Daniel J. Krisch, Hartford, with whom was Matthew J. Willis, Hartford, for the appellee (defendant).

         Lavine, Bright and Alexander, Js.

         OPINION

         LAVINE, J.

Page 779

          [190 Conn.App. 745] The plaintiff Farmington-Girard, LLC,[1] appeals from the judgments of the trial court, rendered after a trial to the court, dismissing the plaintiff’s four consolidated appeals that challenged text amendments to the Hartford Zoning Regulations (regulations) and zoning map changes made by the defendant, the Planning and Zoning Commission of the City of Hartford (commission), for failure to exhaust its administrative remedies. In this appeal, the plaintiff claims that (1) the trial court improperly concluded that it was required to appeal to the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals (board) and, thus, failed to exhaust its administrative remedies, and (2) the defendant is estopped from applying the [190 Conn.App. 746] current regulations to the plaintiff’s property.[2] We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

         The following facts, as found by the trial court, and procedural history are relevant to this appeal. The plaintiff owns property at 510 Farmington Avenue in Hartford. On December 10, 2012, the plaintiff submitted a special permit application, which the plaintiff describes as a "hastily submitted" placeholder application "in order to preserve its rights," proposing the construction of a small fast food restaurant with a drive-through. On December 11, 2012, the defendant made changes to the city zoning map causing the classification of the plaintiff’s property to change from a B-3 zone that allows drive-through operations to a B-4 that does not. In response to the plaintiff’s application, Kim Holden, the city’s chief staff planner, sent a letter dated December 19, 2012, to the plaintiff, stating in relevant part: "A site plan with minimal information was attached to the application which is not sufficient to review with respect to the zoning regulations.... The application is considered incomplete and as such, the time clock on the application has been stopped."[3]

         The plaintiff appealed the defendant’s zoning map change to the Superior Court, Peck, J., which invalidated the commission’s December 11, 2012 zoning map change because the commission failed to comply with prehearing and posthearing statutory notice requirements.[4] Farmington-Girard, LLC v. Planning & Zoning Commission, Superior Court, judicial district of Hartford, Docket No. CV- 13-6038698-S, 2014 WL 4815345 (August 19, 2014).

          On September 23, 2014, the defendant amended the text of the regulations, resulting in the plaintiff’s inability [190 Conn.App. 747] to use its property for a fast food restaurant with a drive-through. The plaintiff appealed this amendment to the Superior Court in a complaint dated February 18, 2015, on the

Page 780

ground that the defendant failed to comply with procedural notice requirements.

          In response to Holden’s letter, stating that the plaintiff’s December 10, 2012 application was incomplete, Michelle Carlson wrote a letter dated October 20, 2014, on behalf of the plaintiff to Khara L. Dodds, the director of the city’s planning division. According to the plaintiff, it had waited until after the court invalidated the 2012 zoning map change to complete its application. Carlson’s letter purportedly supplied all of the required information outlined by Holden and requested that the time clock on the application run and that a public hearing for the application be set. In an affidavit, Carlson attested that she verbally was informed by the city that a new application was required and that the supplemental materials would not be accepted. Dodds responded to Carlson in a letter dated October 28, 2014, stating: "We are contacting you with regard to a site plan review application submitted December 10, 2012 and your desire to re-activate this application with your current plan submittal. After our initial review, it was clear that the original site plan application, #2012-6263 filed in December 2012, lacked the required materials to be considered valid. The application was submitted without site and architectural elevation plans: as a result the application is void. A new site plan application with the required materials must be submitted. Please note several changes to the City of Hartford Zoning Regulations have occurred since your last submittal. Please review these changes to ensure that all required materials are submitted with your new application."

          Dodds’ October 28, 2014 letter coincided with the defendant’s adoption of another zoning map change that blocked the plaintiff’s plan to build a drive-through [190 Conn.App. 748] fast food restaurant. The plaintiff appealed the October 28, 2014 zoning map change to the Superior Court in a complaint dated November 14, 2014, on the ground that the defendant failed to comply with ...


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