ROSEMARIE REARDON et al. v. ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS OF THE TOWN OF DARIEN et al., SC 19069
Judicial District of Stamford
Zoning; Whether the Zoning Enforcement Officer Made a “Decision” in Response to the Plaintiff’s Letter That Could be Appealed to the Zoning Board of Appeals Under General Statutes § 8-6 (a) (1). Darien property owner Rosemarie Reardon sent a letter to the town’s director of planning and zoning, alleging that David Keating, the town’s zoning enforcement officer, improperly issued zoning permits to her neighbors for the reconstruction and expansion of their residence. She claimed that the permits violated the Connecticut Coastal Management Act and the town’s zoning regulations and that the decision to grant the permits was based on incomplete and inaccurate information. When Reardon did not receive a response to her letter within thirty days, she appealed to the zoning board of appeals (ZBA) pursuant to General Statutes § 8-6 (a) (1), which empowers the ZBA to hear and decide appeals where it is alleged that there is “an error in any order, requirement or decision” made by the official charged with the enforcement of the zoning regulations. She did not challenge the actions of Keating in issuing the permits but instead claimed that Keating improperly failed to act in response to her letter, which she characterized as his decision not to enforce the zoning regulations. Before the ZBA, Keating testified that he did not make a decision on Reardon’s letter but simply informed the director of planning and zoning that he believed that Reardon’s claims lacked merit. The ZBA dismissed the appeal, ruling that Keating’s decision “in whatever form” and/or his failure to respond to the letter were not “appealable events” within its § 8-6 (a) (1) jurisdiction. Reardon appealed to the trial court. In dismissing her appeal, the trial court concluded that the record contained substantial evidence supporting the ZBA’s determination that Keating did not make a decision that constituted an appealable event within that body’s jurisdiction. It stated that the record did not show that Reardon had ever submitted a complaint or a request for the enforcement of the zoning regulations to Keating himself but instead submitted her letter to the town’s director of planning and zoning. It further stated that there was no evidence that Keating made any “order, requirement or decision” within the meaning of § 8-6 (a) (1) and that the transcript revealed that he repeatedly denied that he had ever made a decision. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will decide whether the trial court properly found that Keating did not make a decision or determination that was appealable to the ZBA under § 8-6 (a) (1).