The mission of the Connecticut Judicial Branch is to serve the interests of justice and the public by resolving matters brought before it in a fair, timely, efficient and open manner.

Land Use Law Appellate Court Opinion

by Zigadto, Janet


AC45283 - Wihbey v. Zoning Board of Appeals ("In the last few years, an increasing number of courts around the country have been required to address the extent to which local zoning regulations and restrictive covenants that have been in place for decades restrict the relatively recent practice of residential property owners renting their homes on a short-term basis through websites like VRBO and Airbnb. This case represents the first opportunity for an appellate court in Connecticut to address this question. The defendants, the Pine Orchard Association Zoning Board of Appeals (board), Michael B. Hopkins, and Jacqueline C. Wolff, appeal from the judgment of the trial court reversing the decision of the board upholding the issuance of a zoning enforcement officer's order directing the plaintiff, Frances Wihbey, to cease and desist from using his property located at 3 Crescent Bluff Avenue in the Pine Orchard section of Branford (property) for short-term rentals. The defendants claim that the court improperly determined, as a matter of law, that the plaintiff's use of the property was lawful under ยง IV of the 1994 Pine Orchard Association zoning regulations (1994 regulations) because it was consistent with the definition of a 'single-family dwelling' and, therefore, was a protected nonconforming use. The defendants also claim, in the alternative, that the court should have remanded the case to the board for consideration of whether, even if short-term rentals were permitted under the 1994 regulations, the plaintiff's rental of the property met the other requirements of those regulations. We reject the defendants' claim that the use of any property in the Pine Orchard Association (Pine Orchard) for short-term rentals was impermissible under the 1994 regulations. We agree, however, that the court improperly determined that the plaintiff had established a lawful nonconforming use of the property when there is no indication in the record that the board decided that question in the first instance. Accordingly, we reverse in part the judgment of the court.")