920 MADISON, LLC v. ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS, CITY OF BRIDGEPORT ET AL.

2004 Ct. Sup. 12196
No. CV 03 0399399Connecticut Superior Court, Judicial District of Fairfield at Bridgeport
August 11, 2004

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This case is unpublished as indicated by the issuing court.]

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
DOHERTY, JUDGE.

This is an administrative appeal taken by the plaintiff, 920 Madison, LLC, from a decision of the Zoning Board of Appeals for the City of Bridgeport (Board) granting a variance to the defendants Paul Mollica and the Estate of Donald Mollica, d/b/a, 5 Corner Cafe (defendants Mollica) permitting the re-establishment of liquor sales in a restaurant located at 1217 Madison Avenue in the city of Bridgeport.

The parties have stipulated and agreed that the defendants Mollica own and operate a restaurant at 1217 Madison Avenue which is within 1500 feet of the plaintiff’s restaurant.

They both agree that Section 12-10, subsections b and f, of the Bridgeport Zoning Regulations prohibit the re-establishment of a liquor outlet which is within 1500 feet of another outlet and having been closed for more than 60 days.

The defendants Mollica applied for and received a variance permitting the establishment of a cafe liquor permit at the subject property, 1217 Madison Avenue, which is within 1500 feet of the plaintiff’s restaurant which has a liquor permit.

The sole claim made by the defendants Mollica in their brief is that the plaintiff’s appeal should be denied for the reason that the plaintiff is not aggrieved, as that term is defined by Sec. 8-8 et seq., C.G.S. The plaintiff has alleged in its complaint that it “will suffer loss of value to its property and/or other damages due to the ZBA’s granting of another liquor establishment within 1500 feet of its property.” The defendants Mollica argue that aggrievement cannot be based upon a claim of competition to one’s business.

The parties appeared before the court and the plaintiff offered evidence and testimony which established that it is the record owner of real property in the city of Bridgeport, located at both 920-22 Madison CT Page 12197 Avenue and 312-14 Federal Street in Bridgeport and that is assessed and pays real property taxes to the City of Bridgeport for said properties and, as such, is “automatically” aggrieved because the ZBA ruling in question involves the sale or use of liquor. The particular provision of the regulations with which 920 Madison is concerned is Section 12-10(b) of the Bridgeport Zoning Regulations.[1]

Our Supreme Court has held that “any taxpayer in a municipality has automatic standing to appeal from a zoning decision involving the sale of liquor in that community.” Jolly, Inc. v. Zoning Board of Appeals, 237 Conn. 184, 196 (1996).

Based upon the evidence and testimony presented to it, this court finds that the plaintiff is a taxpayer in the city of Bridgeport and further finds that the ruling appealed from involves the sale of liquor in that community. For the foregoing reasons, the court finds that the plaintiff is an aggrieved party, as that term is defined by Sec. 8-8, et seq., C.G.S.

The underlying facts concerning the decision by the Board to grant the variance to the defendants Mollica as set forth in the return of record having been stipulated and agreed to, the court finds that the reasons given by the Board for granting the application of the defendants Mollica for a variance are illegal, arbitrary and an abuse of its discretion.

For that reason, the appeal of the plaintiff, 920 Madison, LLC is hereby sustained.

By the Court,

Joseph W. Doherty, Judge

[1] Sec. 12-10(b) provides, in relevant part, “[n]o building or premises shall be used either in whole or in part for the sale of alcoholic liquor under any tavern, restaurant, cafe . . . permit issued by the Liquor Control Commission, if any entrance to such building or premises . . . shall be within 1500 feet in any direction from the entrance of any other building or premises which shall be used for the sale of alcoholic liquor under either a tavern, restaurant cafe . . . permit.”

CT Page 12198