Posted by: Patricia Salkin | February 15, 2017

CT Court Finds No Conflict of Interest for Municipal Consultant Who Represented Applicant A Decade Earlier

Plaintiffs appealed a decision of the Town of Litchfield’s Planning and Zoning Commission approving a site plan application by Stop & Shop, alleging, among other things, that the Commission’s retained consultant had a conflict of interest that rendered his recommendations on the site plan application inappropriate. Specifically, Plaintiff argued that because the consultant had performed work for Stop & Shop ten years ago, it was inappropriate for the Commission to rely on his recommendations in making its determination on the site plan application. The court held that there was no case law to support Plaintiffs’ allegation that the consultant’s prior work with Stop & Shop raised “the specter of a conflict of interest and fundamental unfairness in the process.” The relevant Connecticut statute regarding zoning board conflicts of interest applied “only to members of zoning authorities, not to experts an authority retains to assist it in its work.” Regardless, even if the court were to find a conflict of interest, the remedy would be to order the Commission to hire a different consultant, not to overturn the Board’s decision in its entirety and sustain the appeal. 

Baker v. Planning & Zoning Comm’n of Town of Litchfield, 2015 WL 776510 (Conn. Super. Ct.1/29/2015).

 


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