HSSK Scores Appellate Win in Lengthy Neighbor Dispute04/17/2023
Hurwitz, Sagarin, Slossberg & Knuff Partner Amy Souchuns recently prevailed before the Connecticut Supreme Court on behalf of the firm’s clients on a question of intervention in an ongoing land use appeal. In affirming the trial court’s action, the Supreme Court emphasized that timeliness is a key consideration in evaluating the merits of intervention.
The case before the court, Markatos v. Zoning Board of Appeals of New Canaan, arose from an appeal brought by HSSK clients David Markatos and Jennifer Holme regarding permits issued by the New Canaan land use departments in connection with Grace Farms, an 80-acre multi-use property located directly adjacent to their home. In deciding the merits of the appeal, the trial court issued an unusual order, remanding the case back to both the defendant Zoning Board of Appeals and the non-party Planning and Zoning Commission to confer on the interpretation of the underlying Grace Farms special permit.
Upon learning of the trial court’s remand, another neighboring property owner sought to intervene in the appeal and sought a stay of the remand. Markatos and Holme and Grace Farms both objected to the intervention on many fronts, successfully arguing that the intervention was not only untimely but failed on the merits. Recognizing that the trial court’s remand order may have been “unusual, or possibly even unprecedented,” the Supreme Court ultimately agreed that this did not override the timeliness consideration with respect to intervention. “The proposed intervenors certainly knew about the appeal at its start,” said Souchuns, “but withdrew an early motion to intervene, only to decide to try again late in the proceeding. Their status as adjacent property owners could not save their otherwise untimely intervention.”
The case will now advance to the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Commission to determine whether Grace Farms has violated its permits.