Town of Simsbury v. McCue
A municipal ordinance may not be unconstitutional, unenforceable or oppressive on the grounds it lacks a hardship exception, provided that the ordinance includes the right to a public hearing to consider hardships and other issues. The defendant, Patrick McCue, owns a single-family residence in Simsbury, Conn. McCue paid $10,000 to connect his residence to the town's sewer system in 1992 or 1993. When lightning struck the pumping station and damaged one pump, McCue paid another $4,000 on repairs. When both pumps ceased working, and sewage backed up into McCue's residence, he informed the town that he was going to disconnect from the sewer, and he installed a septic system, without obtaining any permits. The municipality denied an application to disconnect and ordered that McCue reconnect. McCue refused to reconnect and did not pay the municipal sewer use fees. The municipality sued and requested a court order that McCue reconnect to the sewer. The municipality argued that McCue violated its order, town ordinances and Connecticut statutes when he disconnected from the public sewer. McCue objected that the municipal ordinances were unconstitutional, unenforceable or oppressive, because they lack a hardship exception, and that the court could not grant injunctive relief in the absence of injury to the municipality or the environment. The court found that the municipality possesses a legitimate interest in establishing a cohesive, safe system for waste disposal. The town's ordinances are rationally related to the goals of ensuring the public's health, safety and welfare. The town's ordinances provide for notice, hearings and appeals. The court rejected McCue's argument that there was no hardship exception. The purpose of a public hearing is to consider hardships and other issues. There was no evidence the municipality applied its ordinance in an unequal way or that the municipality lacked a rational basis to enforce the ordinance. The municipality is not required to prove irreparable harm and lack of an adequate remedy at law, to obtain an injunction. McCue failed to prove that enforcement of the municipal ordinance constituted an unconstitutional taking. The court ordered that McCue reconnect to the sewer within 120 days.