Town of West Hartford v. Rechel

459 A.2d 1015 (1983)

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Town of West Hartford v. Rechel

Connecticut Supreme Court
459 A.2d 1015 (1983)

Facts

In the 1960s, Joseph P. Rechel (defendant) and Shirley T. Rechel (defendant) bought two properties in the Town of West Hartford (the town) (plaintiff). Prior to 1941, both properties had been used as single-family residences. During the early 1940s, both properties were converted into boarding houses, and this use continued until the Rechels bought them. At the time the Rechels bought the properties, the town zoning ordinance allowed the operation of a boarding house in a single-family residential district only as a licensed accessory use, and only if the property was used as the owner’s residence and hosted three or fewer boarders. Prior to purchasing the properties, the Rechels verified with town officials that they would be able to obtain licenses to operate the properties as boarding houses. From 1949 to 1967, the town issued accessory-use licenses to the Rechels and their predecessors in title. The Rechels applied for license renewals after 1967, but the town denied their applications. In 1969, the building inspector notified the Rechels that their boarding houses were not allowable uses because they rented to more than three boarders. The town subsequently sued to enjoin the Rechels from using the properties as boarding houses. At trial, the Rechels argued, among other things, that the city was estopped from enforcing the zoning ordinance. The trial court found for the city, reasoning that there was no hard evidence that the Rechels had suffered a loss because of the town’s actions. The trial court did not determine whether enforcement of the zoning ordinance would be highly inequitable or oppressive to the Rechels. The Rechels appealed to the Connecticut Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Peters, J.)

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