Andrew v. Watertown Planning & Zoning Commission
A planning and zoning commission may not be required to obtain an environmental impact statement when the commission decides to amend its own zoning regulations. In November 2008, the Watertown Planning and Zoning Commission passed an amendment to permit a commercial "overlay zone" in an area that previously had been designated for industrial use, in order to create a high quality commercial development, for office and retail use, near Route 8. The plaintiff, who owned property that abutted or that was within a 100-foot radius, appealed to the Superior Court and argued that the P&Z failed to obtain an environmental impact statement. The court found that the P&Z was not required to obtain an environmental impact statement. "The General Statutes," wrote the court, "do not specifically require a commission to provide an environmental impact statement when it seeks to amend its own regulations." The court also rejected the plaintiff's argument that the zoning amendment serves to benefit a few, individual landowners and fails to promote the public welfare. The court found that the amendment is consistent with the town's comprehensive plan, which includes the promotion of commercial and retail development. The P&Z did not exceed its legislative powers when it adopted the amendment, which is rationally related to the general welfare of the community. The court dismissed the plaintiff's appeal.