Stefanoni v. Planning and Zoning Commission of the Town of Darien
"[U]nder §8-30g, the commission considers the rationale behind the regulations to determine whether the regulations are necessary to protect substantial public interests in health, safety or other matters," pursuant to Wisniowski v. Planning Commission, a decision of the Connecticut Appellate Court. The plaintiffs purchased building lots formerly used by Connecticut Light & Power for an electric distribution station and filed an affordable housing application to build a three-story house with 16 dwelling units for the elderly. A traffic engineer expressed concern about safety as a result of the line of sight. The plaintiffs objected that the line-of-sight regulation only applied to residential districts and was not uniformly enforced. The P&Z denied the application as a result of concerns about traffic congestion and density. "While courts have recognized that traffic safety constitutes a substantial public interest, they have required that a Commission demonstrate [not] only that those concerns are legitimate, but also that they outweigh the needs for affordable housing," pursuant to then Superior Court Judge Dennis Eveleigh's 2002 decision, Landworks Development LLC v. Planning and Zoning Commission. Here, the court found that the evidence indicated that an already congested intersection could tolerate additional traffic. The P&Z failed to prove that substantial safety concerns were greater than the need for affordable housing. The court also found that although there was evidence that the plaintiffs' proposed project was more dense than other projects that the planning and zoning commission approved, there was no evidence about the type of harm that would result from density or whether that harm was greater than the public's need for affordable housing. The court sustained the plaintiffs' appeal.