Posted by: Patricia Salkin | July 24, 2017

CT Appeals Court Rejects Property Owner’s Due Process, Equal Protection and Takings Claims on Ripeness Grounds

Plaintiff, Stones Trail, LLC, brought an action against the defendant, the town of Weston, arising from its attempts to develop property located in Weston, alleging: denial of equal, denial of procedural due process, and inverse condemnation or regulatory taking. In this case, plaintiff appealed from the trial court’s dismissal of its claims on the basis of a lack of a final decision from the Town’s Planning and Zoning Commission rendered its claims unripe for adjudication.
The court found that even though the parties had opportunities to argue the issue of ripeness prior to trial, the court considered it four previous times, and the case had been tried and the jury’s verdict accepted, reconsideration was necessary based upon facts that were developed at trial and were unknown to the court when previously considering the issue of ripeness. As such, the court held that the principle of the finality of judgments did not bar the trial court from reconsidering the ripeness of the plaintiff’s claims and its jurisdiction over them.
The plaintiff next argued that the trial court was barred by the law of the case doctrine from reconsidering the issue of ripeness when it had already been considered four times previously during the proceedings. Here, the trial court explained that it was reconsidering the issue of ripeness, and its jurisdiction, based on facts that were developed at trial. Since the law of the case doctrine does not mandate that a court adhere to all rulings made at earlier stages in the proceedings, the court failed to find that it was improper for the court to revisit the issue of ripeness in this case.
Finally, the court agreed with the trial court that although the plaintiff had vested rights in the property at issue in this case, it did not have vested rights in the configuration of that property as it sought to reconfigure it, nor could it have acquired such vested rights without seeking approval of its proposed reconfiguration in accordance with established protocol and procedures. As to futility, the court found that not only did the commission not refuse to grant any subdivision proposals submitted by the plaintiff, but the plaintiff was directed by every town representative with whom it spoke about the matter, to seek approval from the commission, but decline to do so. The trial court’s holding was affirmed.
Stone’s Trail, LLC v Town of Weston, 2017 WL 3000684 (CT App. 7/18/3027)

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