SC Year In Review: Boundary Lines, Dog Bites And Variances
Anatra v. Madison Zoning Board of Appeals
307 Conn 728 (2013)
First, the plaintiffs tore down an old beach house and built a new one on the same footprint getting variances for the setbacks, side yards, lot coverage, and coastal setback that were violated in keeping the old footprint. The variance itself did not contain any express limitation on expanding the footprint. Later, they sought to convert an existing balcony into an uncovered deck fully complying with the existing dimensional requirements but expanding the old footprint and the question became whether the understanding that the footprint would never be enlarged had to be set forth as a condition of the variance to be enforceable.
The Court decided: "Conditions attached to the granting of a variance are not to be construed solely on the basis of the language in the certificate of variance." Lesson learned? You need to look behind the bare words of a variance as recorded on the land records and understand the totality of the process in which the variance was granted. The application, maps, and plans especially must be reviewed to see if they embody restrictions not included in the language of the variance itself.
More On the Web
This has been a busy year for cases involving land, too many to describe in depth here. If you go to the Law Tribune's website at www.ctlawtribune.com, and click on the Supreme Court Year in Review link next to the Hot Topics label at the top of the home page, you will find this article with 17 more cases, including direct links to all of the cases and other resources.
We hope you enjoy a busy year in the improving economy of real estate, land-use and environmental law.•