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Mario v. Fairfield, Town of

ELR Citation: 22 ELR 20066
Nos. No. 13906, 585 A.2d 87/217 Conn. 164, (Conn., 01/22/1991)

The court upholds a Connecticut municipality's regulation requiring owners of land partially within designated wetlands areas to obtain municipal approval before erecting structures on the land's nonwetlands portion. The court first holds that the regulation does not impermissibly expand the jurisdiction of the municipality's conservation commission beyond that authorized by the Connecticut Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Act (IWWA) and the regulations of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. The regulation's requirement of commission approval is a valid administrative device reasonably designed to enable the commission to protect and preserve the wetlands located within the municipality, in fulfillment of its duty under the IWWA. The court notes that the regulation does not completely bar landowners from constructing on the nonwetlands portion of their parcels, because the commission may approve the construction. If it does not, the landowners can pursue their claim, backed by a factual record, that the structure will not impact wetlands. The court next holds that the regulation does not deprive landowners challenging the regulation of equal protection under the U.S. Constitution or the Connecticut Constitution. The regulation's distinction between owners of nonwetlands parcels and owners of parcels with wetlands and nonwetlands is reasonably calculated to accomplish the objectives articulated in the IWWA and those specific to the commission, as well as to enforce the provisions of the IWWA.

Dissenting judges would hold that the municipal commission exceeded the scope of its authority under the IWWA, because there is no express provision in the IWWA for a local conservation commission to regulate activities outside of actual wetlands, and the legislative history of the IWWA does not support this expansion of authority.

Counsel for Appellants
Louis B. Blumenfeld, Jeffrey C. Pingpank
Cooney, Scully & Dowling
Hartford Sq. N., 10 Columbus Blvd., Hartford CT 06106
(203) 527-1141

Counsel for Appellees
Donal C. Collimore, Ass't Town Attorney
1238 Post Rd., Fairfield CT 06430
(203) 255-4531


In this opinion PETERS, C.J., and SHEA J., concurred.