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Figarsky v. Historic Dist. Comm'n

Citation: 6 ELR 20654
No. No. 7894, 368 A.2d 163/(Conn., 06/15/1976)

The Commission did not deprive the plaintiffs of property without just compensation by denying their application to demolish their house, which is located in Norwich historical district and screens the town green from an encroaching commercial district. The Commission's emergency meeting, at which the plaintiffs' demolition application was denied, did not violate the statutory 60-day hearing and 24-hour notice requirement. The Commission clearly has statutory power to regulate the demolition of buildings in historic districts, since any work done on such buildings must be approved by a certificate of appropriateness issued by the Commission. Plaintiffs' claim that the Norwich historic district ordinance is unconstitutional as applied is without merit. The preservation of a building which is not itself of great historical significance, but which is in a district of exceptional historical and architectural significance serves the public welfare. Without reaching the question of whether aesthetics alone may justify an exercise of the police power, the court notes that the ordinance is not impermissibly vague and, in any event, is not based solely on aesthetic considerations. Nor does the ordinance confiscate the plaintiffs' property without just compensation. The controlling criterion is the extent of the property owner's deprivation in light of the ordinance's purposes, not maximum enrichment of the property owner. Plaintiffs did not meet their burden of showing that their house, though in need of some repair, would be without value if they made the repairs ordered by the Commission. The trial court did not err by affirming the Commission's order.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Milton L. Jacobson
Brown, Jacobson, Jewett & Laudone
22 Shetucket St.
Norwich CT 06360
(203) 889-3321

Counsel for Defendant
Guerson D. Silverberg
257 Main St.
Norwich CT 06360
(203) 889-8349

Barber, J. for a unanimous court.