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Autumn View, LLC v. Planning and Zoning Commission

Appellate Court of Connecticut

September 24, 2019


         Argued April 11, 2019

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         The Superior Court, Judicial District of Hartford, Land Use Litigation Docket at Hartford, Marshall K. Berger, Jr., J.


          Alfred J. Zullo, East Haven, for the appellant (defendant).

         Timothy S. Hollister, Hartford, for the appellees (plaintiffs).

         DiPentima, C. J., and Prescott and Moll, Js.


         DiPENTIMA, C.J.

         [193 Conn.App. 20] "[T]he key purpose of [General Statutes] § 8-30g is to encourage and facilitate the much needed development of affordable housing throughout the state." West Hartford Interfaith Coalition, Inc. v. Town Council, 228 Conn. 498, 511, 636 A.2d 1342 (1994). Accordingly, in passing the affordable housing statute, the legislature eliminated the deference traditionally given to commission judgments for affordable housing applications. See Quarry Knoll II Corp. v. Planning & Zoning Commission, 256 Conn. 674, 716, 780 A.2d 1 (2001). This case exemplifies the significance of this aspect of the affordable housing statute enacted in 1989.

         The defendant, the Planning and Zoning Commission of the Town of East Haven, appeals from the decision of the Superior Court, sustaining the appeal of the plaintiffs, Autumn View, LLC (Autumn View), Statewide Construction Corporation, and Vicki Imperato. On appeal, the defendant claims that the court improperly concluded that (1) the September 27, 2016 affordable housing application filed by the plaintiffs pursuant to § 8-30g was not a new application, (2) the September 27, [193 Conn.App. 21] 2016 application complied with a remand order issued by the Superior Court, (3) evidence regarding the failure to comply with town regulations did not support the defendant’s denial of the application, and (4) evidence of how the storm water drainage aspects of the application posed significant dangers to human health and safety did not support the defendant’s denial of the application.[1] We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the Superior Court.

          The record reveals the following facts and procedural history. The plaintiffs are the owners of 17.09 acres of undeveloped real property that includes frontage on Strong Street and South Strong Street and abuts the New Haven Municipal Golf Course. The property contains several abandoned structures but is otherwise undeveloped and contains no wetlands.

         Pursuant to § 8-30g (b) (1), the plaintiffs submitted an affordable housing application on December 20, 2012, that sought to amend the East Haven zoning regulations to create a new "mixed income housing" zone, to rezone the property to the newly created zone and to approve a site plan to

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construct 105 detached single-family homes in common interest ownership with thirty-two homes deed restricted for forty years. To comply with the requirement of § 8-30g (a) (6) that at least thirty percent of the houses be price restricted, the plan set aside thirty-two homes to be offered at a reduced price. Sixteen homes were to be sold at sixty percent of the median price in East Haven, and the other sixteen would be sold at eighty percent of the median. Based on 2012 data, the reduced price homes would be offered at $155,175 and $222,084, respectively. The defendant held a public hearing on the plaintiffs’ application on February 6 and 20, 2013. In response to concerns raised [193 Conn.App. 22] during the hearings, the plaintiffs submitted revisions to the application that included changes to the detention basins, sidewalks and lighting plan. Despite these revisions, the defendant denied the application at a hearing held on March 6, 2013.[2] The defendant also suggested that the plaintiffs make a number of changes to the site plan and zone change request in their application.[3]

         In accordance with § 8-30g (h),[4] the plaintiffs submitted a modified application to the defendant on March 27, 2013. The modified application responded to the [193 Conn.App. 23] defendant’s reasons for denial[5] of the

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revised application and addressed the suggestions set forth by the defendant.[6]

          On May 29, 2013, the defendant held a public hearing on the modified application. In preparation for this hearing, the defendant retained an engineer, Geoffrey Jacobsen, to review, criticize, and comment on the site plan submitted by the plaintiffs as part of the modified application. He prepared a report regarding the plaintiffs’ plan submitted with their modified application, which was not made available to the plaintiffs until the public hearing on May 29, 2013. As a result, the plaintiffs were unable to review and respond to Jacobsen’s criticisms. [193 ...

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