Posted by: Patricia Salkin | December 28, 2014

CT Supreme Court Finds Challenge to Issuance of Building Permits Time-Barred and Holds that Failure of Code Enforcement Office to Respond to Citizen Complaint Does Not Constitute an Appealable Decision

Eckert applied for and obtained zoning and building permits to renovate an existing dwelling, construct and addition and a garage. Six months later, neighbor Reardon claimed Eckert’s applications were incomplete and misleading and the zoning and building permits were “null and void” and sought to have the city cancel them. Reardon wrote to the city’s code enforcement staff asking them to take enforcement action against Eckert. The code enforcement officer did not respond to Reardon. Reardon then filed an “appeal of a decision, order, requirement or determination of the zoning enforcement officer.” She claimed that the code enforcement officer had a duty to respond to her letter, and that the failure to respond to her letter was itself a decision
adverse to her. She also claimed that Eckert’s application had been incomplete and misleading and the city issued its permits to Eckert in error.

The city conducted a hearing on Reardon’s appeal and determined that to the extend Reardon was collaterally attacking the city’s previous approval of Eckert’s permits, she was time barred from doing so. The city also determined that the code enforcement officer’s failure to respond to her letter was not an appealable decision.

The Supreme Court of Connecticut agreed, holding that Reardon’s complaints could have been raised in an appeal of the city’s issuance of permits to Eckert, and Reardon’s failure to file a timely appeal meant she could not collaterally attack those approvals after the time for appeal had run. The court reasoned that to hold otherwise would allow
a person to readily circumvent the appeal process and create uncertainty in zoning decisions simply by complaining to a zoning official that certain facts or law had not been considered in rendering a previous decision. The court also decided that a code enforcement officer’s failure to respond to a citizen’s complaint does not constitute an appealable decision.

Reardon v. Zoning Bd. of Appeals of the Town of Darien, 87 A.3d 1070 (CT 4/8/2014).

The opinion can be accessed at:

Editor’s Note: This abstract appears in Wendie Kellington, Esq.’s materials from the December 2014 ALI Land Use Institute.

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