Marchesi v. Board of Selectmen of the Town of Lyme
The use of the term "boundaries" in Connecticut General Statutes §13a-39 indicates that the legislature intended the statute to be applicable whenever any confine or line of division in two properties became lost or uncertain and the use of the term "lines" further indicated that the legislature intended to give town selectmen the authority to determine the highway in its entirety not just its width. Rhonda Marchesi owns real property on Ferry Road, near the Connecticut River in Lyme. Her neighbors petitioned under C.G.S. §13a-39 for the town's board of selectmen to define Ferry Road's boundaries. Following a hearing, the board determined the boundary and terminus of the highway, concluding that it extended past its then existing western terminus across Marchesi's property. Marchesi brought an administrative appeal under C.G.S. §13a-40 in the Superior Court. The court rendered summary judgment for Marchesi. The Appellate Court affirmed the trial court's decision. The defendants, the board and town, appealed, claiming that the Appellate Court improperly concluded that the trial court correctly determined that parties in an appeal taken pursuant to C.G.S. §13a-40 are entitled to a trial de novo in the Superior Court and that C.G.S. §13a-39 authorizes town selectmen to determine the width of the existing highway, but not its length. The Supreme Court agreed with the Appellate Court that the trial court properly concluded that parties appealing pursuant to C.G.S. §13a-40 are entitled to a trial de novo and, therefore, that the trial court properly considered the summary judgment motion. The text of C.G.S. §13a-40 is very broad, using the terms "doings" and "questions," rather than limiting review to the "board's decision" or "the record." However, the Supreme Court disagreed with the Appellate Court's conclusion that C.G.S. §13a-39 authorizes town selectmen to determine the width of the existing highway, but not its length. Accordingly, the Appellate Court's judgment was reversed and the matter remanded with direction. The language of the act, related statutes and previous judicial interpretations, all supported the conclusion that the legislature intended the board to determine the width and length of the highway under C.G.S. §13a-39. The Appellate Court was misled by language in its 1988 decision in Hamann v. Newtown, where the issue was the width of a highway, not its length.