In 2014, Spinnaker Residential, LLC petitioned New Haven’s Zoning Commission, the Board of Alders, to amend the New Haven Zoning Ordinance Map to rezone properties and to amend the New Haven Zoning Ordinance. The legislation committee of the Board of Alders granted both requests. 78 Olive St. Partners, LLC appealed the Board’s decision because its property abutted Spinnaker’s properties and was therefore affected by the amendments.
As one of its arguments, 78 Olive St. argued that there was evidence of bias during the public hearing before the legislation committee when three members of the Board of Alders testified and/or wrote letters expressing their support for Spinnaker’s petitions. Specifically, 78 Olive St. stated that “[t]he participation of the Alders as advocates for the applicant in the process for Amendments on which they will vote as the Zoning Commission is unseemly at least.” However, the court rejected this argument and held that the members were not biased, as none of the members were actually part of the specific legislation committee that heard the petitions. Regardless, the court stated that the Board members had an “obligation to represent and advance position which they conclude will be in the best interests of their constituents,” which allowed them to express their support for the petitions. Therefore, the court held that members’ testimony and/or letters expressing support did not affect the petitions in a prohibited way.
78 Olive St. Partners, LLC v. City of New Haven Bd. of Alders, 2016 WL 3179433 (Conn. Super. 5/12/2016).