Posted by: Patricia Salkin | October 16, 2008

Burial of Husband in the Backyard is Not an Accessory Use of Residential Property

Although I usually don’t post trial court opinions on this blog, this case, forwarded by Dwight Merriam, Esq. of Robinson & Cole was just too good to miss.


It seems as though Elise Piquet and her late-husband made a pact that they would be buried next to each other when they died.  Since there were no burial plots in the Town, when Mr. Piquet died, Elise buried him in their backyard.  Eight months later, the zoning compliance officer issued a cease and desist order on the grounds that a private burial is not a permitted use under the zoning regulations. Piquet sought a declaratory judgment that she had a right to use her private property to bury her late husband on her property and that upon her death she could be buried there too. The Town filed a motion for summary judgment based upon their zoning regulations, to which Piquet argued that the burial of her husband constitutes an accessory use of her lot.


Upon review of the zoning regulations, the Court concluded that cemeteries are allowed subject to special use permit and that the permits may only be issued to a church or a cemetery association. Furthermore, since the Town’s zoning scheme is permissive (uses not specifically permitted are prohibited), the Plaintiff needed to show some language in the regulations that permitted the burial.  With no express language, Piquet argued that the burial was an accessory use. The Court found insufficient evidence proffered by Piquet to support this argument, and concluded that the section of the zoning regulations that deals with cemeteries prevails over more general language regarding accessory uses. Therefore, the Town’s motion for summary judgment was granted.    


Piquet v. Town of Chester, No. CV 07-5003302 (Superior Ct. Middletown, CT, 9/30/2008).


Click here to read the case.


  1. Thanks so much for posting this one! Needed a good laugh to end my day!
    Great website!

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