JAMES C. TAYLOR v. FAIRFIELD CONSERVATION COMMISSION, INLAND WETLANDS COMMISSION, SC 18426
Judicial District of Fairfield at Bridgeport
Inland Wetlands; Whether the Use of Fill in Constructing Roads That are Directly Related to a Farming Operation is Permitted as of Right Under General Statutes § 22a-40; Whether the Plaintiff's Proposed Construction of Roads in a Wetlands Area is Permitted as of Right Under § 22a-40 and the Local Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Regulations. The plaintiff submitted a petition for a declaratory ruling to the defendant commission, seeking a determination that the various farming related activities that he wished to carry out on his property were exempt from regulation under the agricultural exemption of the Inland Wetland and Watercourses Act. This exemption, which is set forth in General Statutes § 22a-40, allows certain operations and uses in wetlands that are essential to a farming operation as a matter of right. The exemption further provides that it shall not be construed to include road construction not directly related to a farming operation. The defendant commission granted the plaintiff's petition in part and denied the petition in part. In particular, the commission denied the petition with regard to the plaintiff's proposed construction of two roads located within the wetlands portion on his property. It stated that because these two proposed roads required the filling of wetlands, a permit was required for their construction under § 4.3 of its regulations, which preempted the agricultural exemption pursuant to General Statutes § 22a-36. The plaintiff appealed from the commission's ruling pertaining to the proposed roads, and the trial court upheld the commission's decision. In so ruling, the trial court stated that the plaintiff does not deny that he seeks to fill wetlands in order to construct the two roads and that § 4.3 of the commission's regulations requires a permit to fill wetlands even if the fill is used in connection with the construction of roads directly related to a farming operation. In this appeal, the plaintiff claims that the trial court improperly concluded that (1) the use of fill in the construction of roads directly related to a farming operation is not permitted as of right under § 22a-40 and (2) the plaintiff's proposed construction of the roads is not permitted as of right under § 22a-40 and the regulations. The plaintiff also argues that if the Supreme Court finds that the trial court improperly held that road construction related to a proposed farming operation requires a permit, it should reverse the trial court's ruling and remand this matter with direction to grant his petition in its entirety since the commission conceded that the two proposed roads were directly related to a farming operation.