Loulis v. Parrott

In Loulis v. Parrott, 241 Conn. 180, 695 A.2d 1040 (Conn. 1997), the plaintiffs, nearby property owners, disputed a city zoning administrator's issuance of building permits to the defendants and initiated an action in superior court. Although both the trial court and appellate court found that the plaintiffs were statutorily required to appeal to the city's zoning board before seeking judicial review in superior court, the supreme court reversed, holding that the plaintiffs could, in fact, seek superior court review. The plaintiffs in Loulis did not receive notice of the issuance of the defendants' permits. Regarding this point, the court stated: "In the present case, the plaintiffs had no actual or constructive notice of the . . . zoning certificate. . . . For this reason alone, the plaintiffs cannot be deemed to have failed to exhaust the administrative appellate process by which that issuance might have been challenged." Id. at 1047. In that case, the plaintiffs sought an injunction barring the defendants from using a certain property as a package store in the town of Monroe. 241 Conn. at 181. The plaintiffs argued that such use would violate the town's zoning regulations. Id. The plaintiffs' action was in response to the issuance of a certificate of zoning compliance on May 4, 1994. Loulis v. Parrott, 42 Conn. App. 272, 275, 679 A.2d 967 (1996), rev'd on other grounds, 241 Conn. 180, 695 A.2d 1040 (1997). On that date, the planning administrator of the town of Monroe issued the certificate to the defendant Dean Parrott, the operator of a proposed liquor store on the property. Id., 274. The plaintiffs did not appeal from the issuance of the May, 1994 certificate to the zoning board of appeals, and instead commenced a declaratory judgment action. Id., 274-75. While the action was pending in the trial court, the town's zoning enforcement officer subsequently found that the proposed store complied with all zoning regulations and, on March 27, 1995, issued Parrott a permanent certificate of zoning compliance. Id., 275. The plaintiffs appealed the issuance of the March, 1995 certificate to the zoning board of appeals. Loulis v. Parrott, supra, 42 Conn. App. 275. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the action on the ground that the plaintiffs had failed to exhaust their administrative remedies because they had failed to appeal from the zoning enforcement officer's May, 1994 certificate decision to the board pursuant to General Statutes 8-6 and 8-7. Id. General Statutes 8-6 (a) provides in relevant part: "The zoning board of appeals shall have the following powers and duties: (1) To hear and decide appeals where it is alleged that there is an error in any order, requirement or decision made by the official charged with the enforcement of this chapter or any bylaw, ordinance or regulation adopted under the provisions of this chapter . . . ." They subsequently filed a supplemental motion to dismiss on the ground that the plaintiffs' appeal of the issuance of the March, 1995 certificate "constituted an adequate administrative remedy that deprived the trial court of subject matter jurisdiction." Id. The trial court dismissed the plaintiffs' action on the ground that they had failed to exhaust their administrative remedies as to the issuance of the March, 1995 certificate and, therefore, the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the action. Id., 276. The plaintiffs appealed to this court from that decision, arguing that the trial court improperly found that they did not exhaust their administrative remedies with respect to the March, 1995 certificate. Id., 273. We affirmed the judgment of the trial court, but on a different ground. We held that "the action should have been dismissed on the basis of the plaintiffs' failure to exhaust their administrative remedies with respect to the May, 1994 certification." Id., 276-77. We reasoned that the plaintiffs could not maintain an action for equitable relief without first exhausting their administrative remedies. Id., 278-79. The plaintiffs thereafter appealed to the Supreme Court from our decision, arguing that the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies is inapplicable to an action for injunctive relief. Loulis v. Parrott, supra, 241 Conn. 181-82. The Court agreed and reversed our decision. The court reasoned that although "it is true that the legislature has not required notice to be given regarding an administrative action such as a zoning or building permit, that does not necessarily mean . . . that the legislature also intended to bar aggrieved persons from the courts based on their failure to exhaust an administrative remedy when they seek to challenge the issuance of a permit of which they had no notice." Id., 193-94. "Indeed, it is only proper to allow such an aggrieved party to challenge the permit's validity in an appropriate judicial forum, given the lack of notice and consequent lack of meaningful opportunity to pursue an administrative appeal." Id., 194. The Court held that even where the legislature has not required notice of a particular administrative action, it does not follow that aggrieved persons are barred from challenging that action. Id., 241 Conn. at 193-94. Thus, in Loulis, the court held that the plaintiffs, who had no notice of the granting of a zoning permit, had not failed to exhaust their administrative remedies when they sought injunctive relief in the trial court. Id., 241 Conn. at 191-92.