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Property Law Appellate Court Opinion

by Roy, Christopher


AC39074 - Bueno v. Firgeleski ("'A covenant that is a servitude "runs with the land".' 1 Restatement (Third), Property, Servitudes § 1.3 (1), p. 23 (2000). 'When a change has taken place since the creation of a servitude that makes it impossible as a practical matter to accomplish the purpose for which the servitude was created, a court may modify the servitude to permit the purpose to be accomplished. If modification is not practicable, or would not be effective, a court may terminate the servitude.' 2 Restatement (Third), Property, Servitudes § 7.10 (1), p. 394 (2000).

This declaratory judgment action concerns the viability of a restrictive covenant (restriction) contained in a 1941 committee deed conveying 1.544 acres of a thirty acre farm in Darien that was once owned by Wilbur N. Waterbury (Waterbury land). The plaintiffs, Luz E. Bueno and Edward R. den Dooven, own 1.38 acres of the Waterbury land. The defendants, Michael Firgeleski, Allison Firgeleski, Pole M. Chan, Jessica M. Chan, Richard B. Myers, Margaret Q. Myers, Scott J. Cronin, and Eileen M. Cronin (collectively, Briar Brae defendants), and Kenneth S. Martin and Rachel P. Martin (Martins), own lots that were created from a portion of the remainder of the thirty acres of the Waterbury land and are adjacent to the plaintiffs’ property. The plaintiffs sought a judgment declaring the restriction void and unenforceable to permit the sale of a portion of their property. In its judgment, the court declared unenforceable the portion of the restriction that limits the plaintiffs’ use of their property to one dwelling house, prohibits the erection of any building within twenty-five feet of the southern boundary, and requires approval of the grantor before erecting a structure on the property.

The defendants appealed, claiming that three of the court’s factual findings are erroneous in that they are not supported by the evidence. With respect to the court’s legal conclusions, the defendants claim that the court (1) improperly looked beyond the four corners of the deeds and (2) misapplied the facts of the present case to Fidelity Title & Trust Co. v. Lomas & Nettleton Co., 125 Conn. 373, 5 A.2d 700 (1939) (restriction’s purpose frustrated) and Shippan Point Assn., Inc. v. McManus, 34 Conn. App. 209, 215, 641 A.2d 144 (same), cert. denied, 229 Conn. 923, 642 A.2d 1215 (1994). We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")