To accommodate significant growth in its congregation, a church filed an application for concurrent requests for special exception approval of a planned expansion and off-site parking in the Town of Woodbury (CT). Following notice and hearings, the commission approved the application. The Plaintiffs challenged the decision, alleging among other things, that the notice was flawed since the notice only referred to one of the two special permits requested and it failed to identify the locations for where the unspecified permit was sought. The trial court found that because the applications were related and the off-site parking application information was in the file, that the notice was sufficient. The Appeals court disagreed, finding that the notice lacked sufficient information to allow someone receiving the notice to know that an off-site parking application would be considered and the various locations that were under consideration. The Court noted that “Although a prehearing notice need not predict the precise action to be taken by the commission, the notice must ‘fairly and sufficiently [apprise] those who may be affected of the nature and character of the action proposed, so as to make possible intelligent preparation for participation in the hearing, if such action seems desirable.’” The Court further cited a prior holding which maintains that any notice in a zoning action that requires members of the public to conduct additional research by way of informal or chancy cross referencing to determine whether they will be affected by a proposed zoning action is insufficient. Therefore, the Court found that Town had no jurisdiction to consider the merits of the off-site parking application as a result of flawed notice.
Cassidy v Zoning Commission of the Town of Woodbury, 116 Conn. App. 542, 976 A.2d 29 (8/18/2009).
The opinion can be accessed at: http://www.jud.ct.gov/external/supapp/Cases/AROap/AP116/116ap424.pdf