Posted by: Patricia Salkin | September 27, 2020

CT Appeals Court Upholds Denial of Special Use Permit to Allow for Crematory in Industrial District

This post was authored by John Iacone, Touro Law Center

Plaintiffs sought a review of a determination of the town of Bethel’s planning and zoning commission, which denied an application for a special permit to construct a crematory within an industrial park zoning district. The Commission denied the proposal on the grounds that the proposed crematory would adversely impact both the park’s development and the Town’s welfare. McLoughlin owned the property that was located in one of the town’s two industrial zones. Mono-Crete, which McLoughlin is the sole member, operates a business on the property. Mono-Crete produces precast concrete, which is used to make items such as burial vaults. Because the business was declining and the number of cremations in the United States was increasing, McLoughlin decided to seek approval to operate a crematory on the property. In order to do that, McLoughlin proposed a text amendment to the Bethel Zoning regulations that would make the operation of a crematory a specially permitted use within either of the two industrial zones in the town. The commission voted to approve the text amendment. Prior to McLoughlin submitting the special permit application, another text amendment was submitted, which would repeal the prior decision to allow the special use permit for the crematory and impose a one-year moratorium on the commission’s entertaining applications for an permitting the construction of crematories in the town. The amendment was adopted.

McLoughlin’s application was denied because the commission found that “the plaintiffs have not demonstrated that the proposed use in the proposed location will not cause harmful health effects to neighboring properties of their occupants and have not demonstrated that the use will not cause a loss in value of property or economic development potential.” Specifically, the commission felt that McLoughlin failed to meet their burden of demonstrating that their application satisfied the criteria for special permits.

The trial court reminded that “a special exception allows a property owner to use his property in a manner expressly permitted by the local zoning regulations, nevertheless, special exceptions, although expressly permitted by local regulation, must satisfy certain conditions and standards set forth in the zoning regulations themselves as well as the conditions necessary to protect the public health, safety, convenience and property values.” On appeal the Court disagreed with the plaintiffs, in their claim that the court improperly dismissed their appeal because the commission’s denial was not supported by substantial evidence in the record and that the commission failed to consider their application on its merits. The Court found that there was substantial evidence to support the denial.

McLoughlin v Planning and Zoning Commission of the Town of Bethel, 200 Conn. App. 307 (9/22/2020)

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