Veterinary clinic is a health-oriented office under zoning code.
Gen Three, LLC (Gen Three) owns a building on a 0.57-acre parcel in the town of New Canaan on which it sought to operate a small, satellite-style veterinary clinic. The property is located in a business district that is zoned for single-purpose, special-purpose shopping and services. The zoning code also provides that "medical, dental, or similar health-oriented offices shall be permitted" in the district. The town planning and zoning commission issued a permit allowing Gen Three to operate the veterinary clinic subject to two conditions: The routine overnight boarding of animals was prohibited, and the commission had the right to require soundproofing modifications to the building at any time. Quentin Heim and Sandy Deasi (collectively, Plaintiffs), owners of residential property adjacent to the clinic site, appealed the commission's decision to the zoning board of appeals, which affirmed the permit. On the Plaintiffs' appeal, the trial court found that the clinic was a permitted use in the zone, not a special use, and thus the commission had no power to impose conditions. The court struck the conditions from the permit and concluded that its issuance was otherwise proper. The Plaintiffs appealed.
On appeal, the Plaintiffs argued that the phrase "medical, dental, or similar health-oriented offices" referred only to the care of human beings, not animals. The state supreme court disagreed, finding no support for the Plaintiffs' interpretation in the zoning code. The court stated that because the code did not define the term health-oriented, it should be construed according to its common meaning. The court pointed to the broad dictionary definition of the word health as "the condition or state of an organism," noting that it was not limited to the health of human beings. In addition, the court found that the clinic was consistent with the zoning district's purpose, as veterinary visits are both single-purpose and special-purpose activities. The court concluded that the clinic was a "similar health-oriented" office allowed in the district, that the permit conditions were therefore invalid, and that Gen Three was entitled to a zoning permit as a matter of right. The trial court decision was affirmed.
Heim v. Zoning Board of Appeals of Town of New Canaan
Supreme Court of Connecticut
December 25, 2008
2008 WL 5220568 (Conn. 2008)
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