Zoning and land use rulings affect individuals, commercial builders, homeowners associations and other stakeholders in profound ways. Zoning commissions, zoning boards of appeal and inland wetland agencies have the power to allow or prohibit you from using a parcel of land as you wish. When one of these administrative bodies makes a decision that negatively affects you, it takes an experienced land use attorney’s help to make a compelling case to have the decision changed.
Connecticut law allows parties to go court to appeal decisions made by land use commissions, zoning enforcement officers and other boards and agencies. However, only certain parties have legal standing to appeal these decisions. Standing means that the party has been “aggrieved” by the decision.
As explained by the Connecticut Court of Appeals, “aggrievement is a jurisdictional question [and] the standard for aggrievement is rather strict.” There are two distinct ways of meeting the standard:
Statutory aggrievement — By statute, an aggrieved party means anyone who owns land that abuts or is within a radius of 100 feet of any portion of landing involved in a zoning decision.
Classical aggrievement — Under common law, a party must demonstrate first that he or she has a specific, personal and legal interest in the decision, not just a general interest shared by the community. Furthermore, the party must show that the decision specially and injuriously affected that special personal or legal interest.
For example, John owns a home on the east side of Bridgeport and the city zoning authority grants a developer permission to build a gas station on the west side of the city. John doesn’t want any more gas stations anywhere in town because he thinks they are bad for the environment, so he wants to appeal. His standing can be analyzed as follows:
John lives on the opposite side of the city from the proposed gas station. Unless he happens to own land on the west side that is within 100 feet of the land involved, then he is not statutorily aggrieved.
John and others in the community might be against the gas station for environmental reasons, but that general interest does not amount to classical aggrievement. However, if John owns property nearby the proposed site and can demonstrate the gas station will cause a decline in property values, he may be an aggrieved party with standing to appeal.
Aggrievement in either the statutory or classical category can also be a basis for appealing a decision that denies a requested variance or other permission for a particular land use.
Zoning and land use issues can be very complex and require careful and thorough analysis. At Gesmonde, Pietrosimone & Sgrignari, L.L.C. our lawyers handle these cases in communities throughout Connecticut on behalf of homeowners, commercial developers and other interested parties. Call 203-745-0942 or contact us online to speak with an attorney in our Hamden or East Haven office about your zoning concern.
Gesmonde, Pietrosimone & Sgrignari, L.L.C. is located in Hamden, CT and serves clients in and around North Haven, Hamden, Waterbury, Bethany, Milford, Wallingford, Prospect, Woodbridge, Northford, Madison, Beacon Falls, Branford, Cheshire, North Branford, East Haven, Naugatuck, Meriden, Ansonia and New Haven County.
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