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Nicholas v. Wilton Zoning Board of Appeals
Connecticut Superior Court
30 Conn. L. Rptr. 386 (2001)
Nick P. Nicholas (plaintiff) owned a parcel of land located in a residential zone in the city of Wilton. In September 1999, Nicholas applied for a zoning permit to build a single-family residence on his property. The zoning enforcement officer relied on a legal opinion provided by the town’s land-use counsel and denied Nicholas’s application because the parcel was not a valid building lot. In 1975, before Nicholas purchased the parcel, the town counsel at the time, Robert Fuller, wrote an opinion letter to the town planner stating that a permit could be issued on the lot following zoning regulations in effect at the time. In 1986, Fuller resigned as town counsel for the city of Wilton. In October 1999, Nicholas filed an appeal of the zoning enforcement officer’s decision with the Wilton zoning board of appeals (zoning board) (defendant). In January 2000, the zoning board denied Nicholas’s appeal on the ground that the subdivision lot was not valid. Nicholas appealed the decision of the zoning board and asserted that it acted illegally, arbitrarily, and abused its discretion. Nicholas’s attorney for his appeal was Fuller, the former town counsel. The zoning board argued that Nicholas’s interests were adverse to Fuller’s former client’s interest and that this matter was the same or at least substantially related to Fuller’s prior representation because Fuller’s 1975 opinion dealt with the same piece of property and the same zoning issue. The zoning board contended that Rule 1.9 of the Rules of Professional Conduct was not limited to situations in which a lawyer might disclose privileged information from a former client, but that it was a blanket prohibition to be applied unless the former client consents.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Hickey, J.)
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