Mannweiler v. LaFlamme

In Mannweiler v. LaFlamme, 46 Conn. App. 525, 526-34, 700 A.2d 57, cert. denied, 243 Conn. 934, 702 A.2d 641 (1997) the Court summarized the facts as follows. "In 1927, the J. H. Whittemore Company (Whittemore) recorded a subdivision map of a tract of land known as the Hop Brook Development (Hop Brook) in the Naugatuck land records. Hop Brook consisted of six sections that were divided into fifty-two lots that were delineated on the subdivision map. . . . All the parties to this action are owners of property in the development and derive their title from Whittemore, who was the common grantor. in May, 1991, the defendants received approval from the Naugatuck planning and zoning commission to resubdivide their property and to construct two houses, in addition to the house that presently exists, on their lot. "The plaintiffs instituted this action seeking injunctive and declaratory relief to prevent the defendants from constructing the two additional dwellings on their resubdivided parcel. The plaintiffs claim that Whittemore had created, by restrictive covenant, a uniform plan of development, or common scheme. The plaintiffs contend that this common scheme limits any development within Hop Brook to one residential dwelling per lot, as it is shown on the map to which all subsequent conveyances were subject. "The defendants took title to lots one, two, five and a portion of lot three, section E, of Hop Brook in June, 1989. The defendants accepted title subject to the following language: 'Possible conditions and restriction as set forth in two Warranty Deeds from J. H. Whittemore Company to Louis A. Dibble dated September 30, 1927 and July 15, 1930 recorded respectively in Vol. 78 Pages 41 and 642 of the deed from J. H. Whittemore Company to Louis A. Dibble dated September 26, Land Records, as supplemented by a Warranty Deed between those parties dated September 26, 1946 recorded December 7, 1946 in Vol. 97, Page 493 of the Naugatuck Land Records.' The defendants have erected one single-family dwelling on lot one, section E, of the subdivision. In addition, in September, 1946, Whittemore conveyed to Dibble, the defendants' predecessor in title, the remaining land of section E not previously conveyed to Dibble. This land consisted of the remaining portions of lots one, five and three, as well as all of lot four. The deed conveying this property contained the following language: "In accordance with and to the extent that power to do so has heretofore been reserved by the Grantor, all covenants and restrictions applicable to lands within said Section E heretofore purchased by the Grantee from the Grantor are hereby revoked. In place thereof, and as applicable to all premises located within said Section E, whether heretofore or hereunder acquired, the said Grantee, his heirs and assigns, by the acceptance of this deed, assents and agrees that the premises within said Section E heretofore acquired by the Grantee shall be subject to the following covenants and restrictions: 1. All said premises shall be occupied and used by the Grantee, his heirs and assigns, for private residential purposes only and not otherwise, and there shall at no time be erected or maintained thereon anything except private residences, each for the use of one family only, which private residences shall each cost, exclusive of land, not less than $ 15,000.00, together with the necessary outbuildings thereto, and except such outbuildings as may be desired by the Grantee, his heirs and assigns, for use in connection with the occupancy of a private residence located within said Section. No private residence shall be erected or maintained on a lot having a street frontage of less than 100 feet or a total area of less than 15,000 square feet. 2. Said premises may be re-subdivided into building lots of dimensions other than those shown on said Map, provided, however, that no lot shall have a street frontage of less than 100 feet nor a total area of less than 15,000 square feet. On any such lot, or on the original lots if not re-subdivided, no house or outbuildings, including garage, stable, or any other structure, or any part or portion thereof, including porches, steps, porte cochere, bay windows, and any and all projections therefrom, shall be at any time erected or placed nearer to the front or sidewalk lines of any such lot than forty feet, nor nearer to the side line of any such lot than twenty feet or, where such lot sides upon a street, nearer than forty feet to such side or sidewalk line. 3. Each and all the foregoing covenants and restrictions are for the mutual benefit of all persons who have derived or who shall derive title, directly or indirectly, from the Grantor to any lot or lots shown on the Map herein before referred to, and shall run with the land in favor of all lots shown on said Map, and any breach or threatened breach of any one or more or all of the covenants and restrictions aforesaid may be enjoined upon the application of the Grantor, its successors and assigns, or any person or persons who have derived or shall derive title, directly or indirectly, from the Grantor to any lot or lots shown on said Map." "The plaintiffs claim that the construction of additional dwellings on lot one of section E is in violation of the mutual restrictive covenants as set forth in deeds to their lots, and those of their predecessors in title. The plaintiffs sought a temporary injunction to prevent the construction of the additional dwellings. The temporary injunction was granted by the trial court. The trial court, however, subsequently denied the plaintiffs' request for a permanent injunction." In Mannweiler, the Court concluded that the initial deeds conveying Hop Brook properties specifically restricted the number of houses that could be built on each lot. The Court also determined that the substantial uniformity coupled with other evidence of the grantor's intent evidenced that the restrictions were binding on all those who derived title either directly or indirectly from the grantor and that the grantor, having established a common scheme, could not subsequently revoke those restrictions. In Mannweiler, the Court stated that "the defendants claim, as an alternative ground for affirmance, that the plaintiffs' interest in the right to enforce the restriction against resubdivision of the subject property has been rendered null and void by operation of law under the Marketable Title Act. Specifically, they argue that the act obligates the plaintiffs to record in the defendants' chain of title a notice setting forth the nature of their claim. In the absence of such a notice, they contend, the plaintiffs' interest in the defendants' land is nonexistent. As noted earlier, the trial court did not rule on that claim, which was raised as a special defense. Although that ground was raised as an alternate ground for sustaining the judgment, we believe that it is better left to the trial court to determine. We therefore decline to review this claim." Mannweiler, supra, 46 Conn. App. 544. The Court then remanded the case to the trial court "to consider the defendants' special defense relating to the Marketable Title Act." Id.