Steroco Inc. v. Szymanski
A property owner may commence a private cause of action against another property owner, alleging that the defendant failed to comply with zoning regulations and the plaintiff was injured, without naming the municipal zoning enforcement officer as a party defendant. The plaintiff, Steroco Inc., owns property located at 847 Forest Road in North Branford, Conn. The plaintiff sued Joseph Szymanski, who owns a liquor store at 855 Forest Road, which abuts the plaintiff's property and argued that Szymanski's current location violates the 500-foot rule that bars liquor outlets within 500 feet of any church, synagogue, college, school, park or municipal playground in §54.1.1 of the zoning regulations. Allegedly, the defendant's liquor store is only 415 feet away from a church. The plaintiff maintained it is unable to operate a liquor store, because of the proximity of the defendant's liquor store and requested an injunction, to bar a liquor store at 855 Forest Road. The defendant moved to strike and argued that the plaintiff's complaint failed to name the zoning enforcement officer as a defendant, and that the ZEO is a necessary party. "[A] party is necessary if its presence is absolutely required in order to assure a fair and equitable trial," pursuant to Biro v. Hill, a 1990 decision of the Connecticut Supreme Court. The court found that the plaintiff may sue another party, who allegedly violated the zoning regulations, and request injunctive relief. The ZEO who allegedly issued a certificate of zoning compliance to the defendant is not a necessary party. The plaintiff's complaint adequately alleged a cause of action for a private enforcement action, and the court denied the motion to strike on the basis that the plaintiff failed to sue the municipality's zoning enforcement officer. "The defendant," wrote the court, "cites to no legal authority and provides no legal analysis to support his bald assertion that [the ZEO] is a necessary party to a claim that seeks to enjoin the defendant from continuing to operate his package store in violation of certain of the zoning regulations."