HARRY KRAIZA, JR. v. PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION OF THE TOWN OF HARTLAND, SC 18667
Judicial District of Litchfield
Zoning; Subdivisions; Roads; Whether Commission Properly Denied Subdivision Application. The subdivision regulations for the town of Hartland limit the length of permanent dead-end streets to 1200 feet and require that such streets be equipped with a turn-around roadway with a specific minimum radius. The regulations define “dead-end street” as any street used for access to any current lot that provides only one means of ingress or egress. In 2007, the planning and zoning commission received the plaintiff’s application for an eight-lot subdivision, which included a proposal for an 1100 foot long dead-end street, Hazel Lane. Hazel Lane would connect the plaintiff's property to Eastwood Drive, an existing road with a total length of 3500 feet, including a half-mile long loop at its end. The commission, in assessing the proposal, combined the lengths of Hazel Lane and Eastwood Drive. Finding that the streets formed an extended dead-end street with a total length exceeding 1200 feet, the commission denied the application. After the trial court dismissed his appeal, the plaintiff appealed to the Appellate Court (121 Conn. App. 478). The plaintiff claimed that the regulations apply only to newly proposed streets, and, hence, the commission improperly combined the length of Hazel Lane with that of Eastwood Drive. Alternatively, the plaintiff claimed that the regulations are ambiguous with regard to whether the length of proposed and existing roads can be combined and that any ambiguity should be construed in his favor. The court ruled that the regulations neither expressly permit nor prohibit adding the length of existing streets to proposed streets. It opined that interpreting the length restriction as applying only to new streets would lead to absurd and unreasonable results because individual sections measuring less than 1200 feet in length could be added to an existing dead-end street to form a single dead-end street with a length in excess of the limitation. The court further determined that even if the regulations are ambiguous, they must be construed to apply to both proposed and existing streets based on the commission's intent and its construction of the regulations. The court next considered the plaintiff’s claim that Eastwood Drive is not a dead-end street because it is longer than 1200 feet and, as a loop road, does not have a turn-around roadway as described in the regulations. The court concluded, based on the regulatory language and the commission's intent to limit the length of dead-end streets in subdivisions, that loop roads fall within the definition of dead-end street. This court will now decide whether the Appellate Court properly determined that the commission properly denied the plaintiff’s application to subdivide his property.