City of Meriden v. Planning and Zoning Commission of the Town of Wallingford
Substantial evidence supported the denial of a special permit application to operate a disposal cell at a closed landfill based on an unacceptable increase in the intensity of the use, in accordance with a specific criterion in the applicable zoning regulations. The plaintiff, the city of Meriden, owned a parcel of land in Wallingford and sought a special permit to use approximately six acres of a landfill for disposing of street sweepings, soil, concrete, bricks and other nonhazardous material generated from public works projects. Meriden wanted to construct and operate a disposal cell at the closed landfill site located between two aquifer protection areas. The defendant, the Planning and Zoning Commission of the town of Wallingford, unanimously voted to deny the application. The trial court dismissed Meriden's appeal. Meriden appealed the judgment and claimed that the defendant's denial of the special permit application was not supported by substantial evidence. The Appellate Court disagreed and affirmed the trial court's judgment. The Wallingford zoning regulations explicitly list intensity of the proposed use as a factor for the defendant's consideration when deciding a special permit application. The defendant stated that intensification, an unacceptable increase in the intensity of the current use, was the basis for denying the application. The record contained substantial evidence supporting this specific reason, and, thus, the plaintiff's claim that the defendant provided only a general reason was without merit. The plaintiff sought a special permit to operate a disposal cell at a closed landfill. Trucks would transport the materials from Meriden to the disposal cell in Wallingford. Meriden planned to build a berm and prepare the site for drainage and indicated that the cell would have a 10 to 15 year operating life with an 80,000 cubic yard capacity. Given this record, it was well within the discretion of the defendant to conclude that the plaintiff's proposal constituted an intensification of use. The site went from not being used at all to site preparation and construction and having trucks transport 4000 to 6000 cubic yards of fill on an annual basis. The defendant, in the exercise of its discretion, was free to use this consideration as a reason to deny the special permit application.