Ross v. Conservation Commission

In Ross v. Conservation Commission, Superior Court, judicial district of Fairfield, Docket No. 301484 (Nov. 12, 1993) (10 Conn. L. Rptr. 313) (Fuller, J.) the owners of a pair of building lots that were part of a 1962 subdivision plan that was approved, filed and recorded in the town of Westport, claimed that their lots were exempt from subdivision and zoning regulations enacted subsequent to approval. The court agreed. "The lots come squarely within the protection provided to approved subdivision lots by 8-26a (a) and (b) of the General Statutes. . . . The phrasing of these statutes is clear and unambiguous, and the plaintiffs' lots comply with the exemption requirements contained in them. The courts do not construe statutes whose meaning is plain and unambiguous . . . or by construction add exceptions merely because it appears that good reasons exist for doing so." The "good reasons" for not applying the statute as written are patent: the statute, as written and as we interpret it, provides a "sweeping statutory restriction" on a town's ability to regulate land use once it has approved a plan. T. Tondro, Connecticut Land Use Regulation (2d Ed. 1992) p. 219. "The statute forever prohibits the application of new subdivision or zoning regulations to all subdivisions once they are approved . . . ." Id. By enacting the statute, "the legislature has clearly made a policy decision that once the division of the land and proposed lot layout has been reviewed by the municipality through its planning commission the subdivision does not have to be reviewed again, and that the subdivision lots are not affected by subsequently enacted zoning regulations."