Posted by: Patricia Salkin | December 15, 2016

CT Appeals Court Finds Board of Zoning Appeals was Not Precluded from Imposing a Condition Restricting Hours of Operation of a Restaurant that Served Liquor

Defendant, Board of Zoning Appeals of the City of New Haven, appealed from the judgment of the trial court, which sustained the appeal of the plaintiff, Parillo Food Group, Inc., from the defendant’s decision granting the plaintiff’s application for a special exception to operate a restaurant serving liquor that imposed a condition limiting its hours of operation. On appeal, the defendant claimed the court improperly concluded that it: had no authority to limit the hours of operation of the plaintiff’s restaurant. Specifically, the defendant claimed that the court should have determined that municipal zoning boards have the authority to place temporal restrictions on special exception uses; erroneously concluded that Connecticut’s Liquor Control Act, General Statutes § 30-1 et seq., divested the defendant of its power to attach conditions limiting the hours of operation of restaurants that serve alcohol, and erroneously concluded that the challenged condition was not integral to the defendant’s approval of the special exception.

The record indicated that it was undisputed that the plaintiff was entitled to operate a restaurant as a permitted use in the BA zone. However, in order to serve alcoholic liquor the plaintiff was required to obtain a special exception pursuant to article V, § 42, of the New Haven Zoning Ordinance. Moreover, the applicable zoning regulations clearly authorized the defendant to attach a condition limiting the hours of operation when granting a special exception. In determining that such a condition was warranted in the present case, the defendant relied on the record of the proceedings before it, which included the evidence presented at the public hearing and the advisory reports of the department and the commission.

The plaintiff next claimed that even if temporal conditions relating to a business’ operation were appropriate under certain circumstances, the defendant could not limit the plaintiff’s hours of operation because the provisions of the Liquor Control Act granted only the city of New Haven, and not its zoning board, the power to do so. The applicable state statute, § 30-91 (b), authorized the town, by vote of a town meeting or by ordinance, to reduce the number of hours during which sales of alcoholic liquor were permissible. Additionally, under the statute a town could vote to prohibit the sale of alcoholic liquor within its boundaries. Accordingly, the court reversed, finding that the condition imposed by the defendant on the plaintiff’s special exception was authorized by a regulation that was not in conflict with the provisions of § 30-91(b).

Parillo Food Group, Inc. v. Board of Zoning Appeals of the City of New Haven, 2016 WL 6948056 (CT App. 12/6/016)

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