Citino v. Redevelopment Agency, (AC 16900)

CourtAppellate Court of Connecticut
Citation721 A.2d 1197,51 Conn. App. 262
Decision Date15 December 1998
Docket Number(AC 16900)

51 Conn. App. 262
721 A.2d 1197


(AC 16900)

Appellate Court of Connecticut.

Argued September 23, 1998.

Officially released December 15, 1998.

Schaller, Spear and Dupont, JS.

51 Conn. App. 263
Kevin B. Carroll, for the appellant-appellee (plaintiff)

Kenneth B. Kaufman, assistant corporation counsel, for the appellee-appellant (defendant).



The two main issues of this appeal are (1) whether the plaintiff, Frank A. Citino, was entitled to a judgment against the defendant Hartford redevelopment agency for alleged misrepresentations made by the defendant to the plaintiff and (2) whether the doctrine of inverse condemnation requires the conclusion that the plaintiffs real estate was taken for a public use by the defendant without just compensation in violation of the fifth and fourteenth amendments to the United States constitution and article first, § 11, of the Connecticut constitution.

The trial court did not rely on the doctrine of inverse condemnation in rendering its judgment for the plaintiff on count one of his complaint but, rather, concluded that a judgment should be rendered for the plaintiff on the basis of unjust enrichment of the defendant.1 The judgment ordered damages to be paid to the plaintiff in the amount of $278,500, and ordered that the subject real estate be transferred by the plaintiff to the defendant free and clear of all mortgages, liens and encumbrances. The court did not award appraiser's fees or

51 Conn. App. 264
attorney's fees to the plaintiff.2 The plaintiff, in counts two and three of his complaint, also sought damages for negligent and fraudulent misrepresentation. He appeals from the judgment for the defendant on the latter counts. The defendant cross appeals from the judgment for the plaintiff on the first count of the plaintiffs complaint. The plaintiff claims, in connection with the cross appeal, that the trial court should have awarded him appraiser's fees and attorney's fees in connection with the first count, and that the trial court should not have ordered him to convey his realty

This action arises out of activities in connection with a redevelopment project known as the Park-Squire-Wolcott project in the city of Hartford (city). The defendant agency, which was responsible for the redevelopment project, was created pursuant to the Redevelopment Act (act), General Statutes § 8-124 et seq.3 Pursuant to the act, redevelopment agencies are authorized to prepare redevelopment plans,4 to acquire property by eminent domain within redevelopment areas5 and to

51 Conn. App. 265
dispose of property within redevelopment areas to redevelopers.6 Redevelopment agencies may also issue bonds7 and accept grants and other financial assistance to further redevelopment projects.8 The act further requires that municipalities approve certain agency undertakings, and it authorizes municipalities to appropriate funds to the agencies.9

The trial court found certain facts. The plaintiff purchased real property located at 457-469 Park Street and 17-19 Squire Street in Hartford on or about November

51 Conn. App. 266
15, 1985. The defendant admitted in its answer that on or about May 30, 1988, the plaintiff met with officials from the defendant to secure financing in the form of a loan for the development of the two properties owned by him in an area to be redeveloped. At that time, the plaintiff was informed that the defendant wanted to acquire the property located at 17-19 Squire Street and 457-469 Park Street for purposes of a redevelopment project

On February 15, 1990, the defendant approved a redevelopment plan for the Park-Squire-Wolcott project. The plan was amended on July 19, 1990. On September 14, 1990, the city council approved the plan as required by statute. See General Statutes § 8-127. The plan provided for the acquisition of eleven parcels of privately owned land located on Squire, Park and Wolcott Streets in Hartford. Property owners could retain their property if, within 180 days of the defendant's preliminary acquisition notice, rehabilitation plans were approved by the city's planning department and proof of financial resources sufficient to complete the proposed construction was presented to the agency. The plan, according to the trial court's memorandum of decision, provided that "[t]he ... project activities will be financed through the city of Hartford's community development block grant program."

The plaintiff met with officials of the defendant on several occasions to discuss his retaining and developing both properties pursuant to the redevelopment plan. In October, 1990, the defendant told the plaintiff that he could keep both properties and develop them himself if plans for the new construction were submitted and approved and if he could provide the defendant with evidence of financial resources for the development. Also, in October, 1990, the city served the plaintiff with an antiblight citation concerning the Squire Street property. The plaintiffs buildings on Park Street and

51 Conn. App. 267
Squire Street had been the sites of fires and, by 1990, the Park Street building had been totally demolished and the Squire Street building, although still standing, was uninhabited. The antiblight citation levied a fine of $17,820 against the plaintiff, and the plaintiff filed an appeal. Faced with the fine, the plaintiff secured financing in the form of a mortgage to rehabilitate the Squire Street property

The plaintiffs proposal for the development of Park Street was rejected and, consequently, he was unable to secure financing for that property. Because the plaintiff failed to submit new plans and evidence of financial resources for the Park Street property, it was taken by the defendant by eminent domain on April 10, 1992. The plaintiff does not claim in this action that he was not fairly compensated for the taking of the Park Street property. He took no appeal claiming to be aggrieved by the statement of compensation; see General Statutes § 8-132;10 nor did he take any action claiming negligent or fraudulent misrepresentation by the defendant as to statements about Park Street. The trial court specifically noted that when the Park Street property was condemned, the plaintiff "received by judicial award the fair market value of that property and any severance damage which would be appropriate to compensate [the] taking of the Park Street property."11

51 Conn. App. 268
After the defendant acquired the Park Street property, the defendant acquired by eminent domain all of the other properties within the Park-Squire-Wolcott redevelopment area except the plaintiffs property on Squire Street. The plaintiffs Squire Street property was the only property not formally taken by eminent domain, but it was not removed from the redevelopment plan. The defendant, as of the date of trial, had not implemented its redevelopment plan and the subject area had significantly deteriorated since 1988 when the plaintiff and the defendant first discussed the redevelopment of the area.

The trial court expressly found that there has been no formal abandonment of the redevelopment project. The court found that the process had been slow but that significant steps were scheduled to take place in early 1997, and stated that it could not "predict, one way or the other, whether, or at which point in time the project will actually come to fruition so as to physically develop the redevelopment property."

The trial court found that "Squire Street was in fact able to be funded through various housing funding loans available through the public sector including the city of Hartford and the Capitol Housing Finance Corporation. The availability of those funds for the project caused the plaintiff to believe, though mistakenly, that adequate funding would be available to [rehabilitate the Park Street property].... [T]he city of Hartford was putting additional pressure upon the plaintiff to renovate the Squire Street building, under threat of very substantial fines, which pressure was unwarranted, as the building was a part and parcel of the designated redevelopment area scheduled for public acquisition and redevelopment. Consequently the plaintiff, in reliance on that mistaken belief, and in response to the assessing of fines by the city, did reconstruct the Squire Street property, thereby incurring mortgage obligations

51 Conn. App. 269
of $248,500." At the time Squire Street was reconstructed, the plaintiffs Park Street property had not yet been taken by eminent domain.

The plaintiff was told (1) that he could not demolish the Squire Street building and (2) that if he did, he would have to post a bond of $108,000, which would be forfeited if he did not replace the building within eighteen months. He was not told that if he did not do anything and let the property be condemned, the antiblight fine would be waived. The plaintiff rehabilitated his property at Squire Street to the satisfaction of the defendant. It was renovated with modern and updated appliances, but it was situated within an area of deteriorated and boarded-up buildings owned by the defendant. The defendant moved all of the tenants out of the adjacent buildings, which buildings are all now vacant and their grounds strewn with litter. Of the six apartments in the plaintiff's Squire Street property, only two were producing rent at the time of trial.



The plaintiff sought damages for negligent and fraudulent misrepresentations by the agency.12 Before turning to the substantive claims of the parties, we must

51 Conn. App. 270
first address the trial court's failure to state the standard of proof used in making its findings that the plaintiff did not prove either negligent or fraudulent misrepresentation. Where a court's memorandum of decision "is silent as to the standard...

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