Batchelder v. Planning and Zoning Commission of the Town of Vernon
Under C.G.S. §8-8(n) and §22a-19, environmental intervenors have standing to raise environmental concerns regarding settlements of administrative appeals and can block the approval of settlements on that basis. This is the third appeal of the plaintiffs, James Batchelder and Glenn Montigny, attempting to block the settlement of litigation between the defendant, the Planning and Zoning Commission of the town of Vernon and a developer, Diamond 67, LLC. This appeal concerns the judgment of the trial court, Sferrazza, J., denying the plaintiffs' petitions to intervene pursuant to C.G.S. §22a-19 in a public forum at which the proposed settlement of litigation between the defendant and Diamond was to be discussed. The plaintiffs claimed that the trial court improperly granted summary judgment for the defendant against Montigny and dismissed Batchelder's appeal as moot. The Appellate Court concluded that both plaintiffs' claims were moot and dismissed their appeal. Even assuming, arguendo, that the plaintiffs may appeal from the denial of their petitions to intervene in the public forum, their appeal was moot because the Appellate Court could not afford them any practical relief. The plaintiffs' ability to thwart the settlement was litigated and decided following a remand hearing before the court, Klaczak, J., and the Appellate Court's 2011 decision in the second appeal. In that decision the Appellate Court held that Montigny forfeited the right to contest the settlement by failing to present evidence of environmental issues at the remand hearing. The remand hearing was the proper forum in which Montigny and Batchelder should have challenged the proposed settlement based on claimed negative environmental impacts. The Appellate Court could not now reverse Judge Klaczak's judgment approving the settlement proposal following the remand from the initial appeal and the decision in the second appeal, after the parties' claims have been fully litigated and resolved. The plaintiffs were provided the opportunity to raise environmental concerns at the hearing before Judge Klaczak but failed to do so. They were offered, but failed to avail themselves of the very thing they sought to attain by seeking to intervene in the public forum.