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  • Dinan v. Board of Zoning AppealsDinan v. Board of Zoning Appeals
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Dinan v. Board of Zoning Appeals

Connecticut Supreme Court
595 A.2d 864 (1991)


The Dinans (plaintiffs) own a two-family house in a single-family residence zone. However, the house satisfies the requirements for a legal nonconforming use, which means it can still legally be used as a residence for two families. But the Dinans did not live on the property, and they were not renting it to two families. Rather, each of the house’s two floors is occupied by five unrelated persons, each occupant The tenants each have a separate bedroom, but share common cooking and bathroom facilities. There are 11 striped parking spaces on the property. In 1989, a zoning-enforcement officer decided the Dinans were using the property as a rooming house rather than as a residence for two families, and the officer ordered the Dinans to stop their current use. The municipality’s zoning regulations defined “family” as persons related by blood, marriage, or adoption. The Dinans appealed to the Board of Zoning Appeals (Board) (defendant), claiming that the zoning regulation’s definition of “family” was: (1) ultra vires because it was unauthorized by the zoning act and (2) unconstitutional. A law is ultra vires if the enacting body did not have the legal power or authority to pass that law. The Board upheld the zoning officer’s determination. The Dinans appealed to the trial court. The trial court found for the Dinans and declared the zoning regulation’s definition of “family” invalid. The trial court held the definition was beyond the statutory zoning authority given to municipalities and violated the state constitution. The Board appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Shea, J.)

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