Judge denies Daniels Farm zone change appeal, clearing way for single family housing development
A Superior Court judge has denied a resident’s appeal to a zoning change, clearing the way for 30 single family homes on just over 10 acres on lower Daniels Farm Road.
In his decision, Judge Dale Radcliffe rejected arguments from abutting property owner Joshua Price that the Planning & Zoning Commission had acted illegally in the creation of a Village Residence District, and the subsequent rezoning of 10.08 acres of land on 147 Daniels Farm Road to that zone.
“When acting as a legislative body, the commission is the formulator of public policy and its discretion is much broader than an administrative board,” Radcliffe wrote. “In the exercise of that discretion, a commission is free to amend its regulations and its zoning map whenever time, experience, and a reasonable planning for contemporary or future conditions reasonably indicate the need for a change.”
Radcliffe further wrote that when ruling on applications, the commission has the right to interpret its regulations and determine whether a particular regulation applies, and whether general statures concerning health, safety, and welfare have been satisfied.
Radcliffe rejected arguments that approval of the planned 30-house development could not be conditional on subsequent approvals by the state Traffic Commission and the Water Pollution Control Authority. He noted that approval for a sewer connection by the WPCA was necessary before a certificate of occupancy could be issued.
For traffic concerns, Radcliffe referred to a 1969 case where the Trumbull Zoning Board of Appeals granted a special exception to permit construction of Stern Village, subject to the widening of an access road. The village, located on Hedgehog Road off Daniels Farm Road, consists of 186 units of senior housing, plus 36 units of congregate living for the elderly.
“It is not necessary to require completion of all road improvements before a special permit application is approved,” Radcliffe wrote. “However, completion of the improvements may be required, prior to occupancy.”
The court case stems from a January 2017 application to amend the zoning regulations. The commission adopted language creating a Village Residence District at its June 21 2017 meeting. The new district was defined as being between 10 and 30 acres, having at least 200 feet of frontage on a state highway, and having access to sewers. Development within a Village Residence District is limited to single family detached dwellings, no more than 3.5 per acre, and with no building exceeding 30 feet in height. After receiving public comment and reviewing the Daniels Farm application with the fire marshal and tree warden, the commission unanimously approved the zone change February 28, 2018.
In making its decision, the commission stated that the zoning change was appropriate for the site because of its location on a state highway, its proximity to Trumbull Center, and because it created housing alternatives without significantly increasing density. The commission also decided that the Village Residence District would not have a major impact on traffic or the town’s public schools.
Radcliffe agreed with the commission, writing in his conclusion that “The special permit and site plan approval voted by the Trumbull Planning and Zoning Commission does not violate any provision of the Trumbull Zoning Regulations. The conditions of approval are appropriate and valid. The appeal of the plaintiff...is dismissed.”
Town Attorney James Cordone said he has been notified that Price’s attorney is seeking to appeal the decision to the state Appellate Court, but it remains to be seen whether the higher court would agree to hear the case, he said.