Dickau v. Town of Glastonbury

Decision Date07 May 1968
Citation156 Conn. 437,242 A.2d 777
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court
PartiesAnn P. DICKAU et al. v. TOWN OF GLASTONBURY.

Robert W. Gordon, Manchester, for appellants (plaintiffs).

Edward C. Wynne, Glastonbury, for appellee (defendant).

Before KING, C.J., and ALCORN, HOUSE, THIM and RYAN, JJ.

ALCORN, Justice.

The plaintiffs have appealed from the valuation placed upon certain of their real estate for tax purposes in Glastonbury. Their original complaint was in two counts. The first count was in the form of an appeal from the action of the board of tax review in refusing to reduce the allegedly excessive valuation placed by the assessors on five described parcels of land. The second count alleged that the plaintiffs had applied, under General Statutes (Rev. to 1964) § 12-107c, to have these parcels classified as farmland; that the assessors made no such classification but stated that the assessment as previously made would not be changed; and that the classification of the land 'as industrial land and commercial land as hereinbefore stated' was improper and illegal. There was, however, no allegation that the land had been classified as industrial or commercial land, but it was alleged that the board of tax review, on an appeal to it for a classification of the property as farmland, had refused to make any change. The relief sought on the two counts was (1) that the plaintiffs' land be classified as farmland and (2) that the valuation of the land be reduced to its 'true and actual value.'

A third count was later added to the complaint, alleging, in substance, that the plaintiffs had gone to the assessor's office for the purpose of seeking the benefits of General Statutes (Rev. to 1964) § 12-107c and that the assessor had told them that there was no need to seek such relief because the existing assessment would not be altered; that the plaintiffs had consequently not applied for the benefits available under § 12-107c, but the assessor nevertheless did subsequently after the assessments; that the plaintiffs appealed from that action to the board of tax review without success; and that 'the classification of the plaintiffs' land by the assessor as industrial land and commercial land as hereinbefore stated was improper and illegal.' Again there was no allegation that the land was classified as industrial and commercial land. The relief sought was that the land be assessed as farmland under § 12-107c.

The defendant admitted none of the allegations of any of the counts except the plaintiffs' ownership of the five parcels of land involved.

The court was thus presented, in substance, with an appeal, as authorized by General Statutes (Rev. to 1964) § 12-118, from the valuation placed upon the plaintiffs' land, an appeal from a claimed refusal to grant an application to classify the land as farmland under § 12-107c, and an appeal from a claimed action of the assessor in dissuading the plaintiffs from seeking relief under § 12-107c. After a hearing on all of the disputed issues, the court concluded that the plaintiffs had not sustained their burden of proof and that the true and actual value of the land was that set by the assessor and the board of tax review. Judgment was rendered confirming the action of the board of tax review, and the plaintiffs have appealed from the judgment.

There are eleven assignments of error. One of them seeks the addition of 102 paragraphs to the finding, of which fifty-six were expressly abandoned at the time of argument. The remaining forty-six are not pursued in the brief and must be treated as abandoned. Shelton Yacht & Cabana Club, Inc. v. Suto, 150 Conn. 251, 254, 188 A.2d 493. The same treatment, for the same reason, is accorded three assignments of error attacking the facts found and the conclusions reached by the court and four assignments of error in rulings on evidence. No correction of the finding is required.

The plaintiffs' contention on this appeal reduces to two propositions, based, in substance, on the first and third courts of the complaint. They are , first, that the tax assessor was not justified in revaluing the plaintiffs' land from $200 per acre as agricultural land to $1000 per acre merely because the land had been rezoned as industrial land; and, second, that the town was estopped from altering the pre-existing valuation by the action of the assessor in the complaint. They are, first, that the the benefits afforded by General Statutes (Rev. to 1964) § 12-107c. The claim under the second count is not pursued because the plaintiffs admittedly never sought relief under § 12-107c.

We have recently discussed General Statutes §§ 12-107a-12-107c, passed by the 1963 General Assembly and designed to provide preferential tax treatment of farmland. Marshall v. Town of Newington, 156 Conn. --, 239 A.2d 478. As we pointed out in that case, when an owner has applied for the classification of as farmland, as defined in § 12-107b, it is the duty of the assessor to determine whether the land qualifies for such classification under the tests laid down in § 12-107c(a). Land so classified is then to be valued 'based upon its current use without regard to neighborhood land use of a more intensive nature,' but the true and actual value of all other property is to be deemed the fair market value. General Statutes (Rev. to 1964) § 12-63. Admittedly the plaintiffs did not apply for a classification of their land as farmland, and consequently, unless their claim of estoppel is valid, their land is to be valued at its present true and actual valuation. General Statutes (Rev. to 1964) § 12-64. The determination of that valuation presents a question of fact for the trier, with the burden on the plaintiffs to prove that the assessor's valuation was not the present true and actual value or, in other words, the present fair market value of the property. Sheldon House Club, Inc. v. Branford, 149 Conn. 28, 32, 175 A.2d 186; Burritt Mutual Savings Bank of New Britain v. City of New Britain, 146 Conn. 669, 680, 154 A.2d 608.

The plaintiffs' claim of estoppel is without merit for several reasons. In the first place, '(e)stoppel rests upon the misleading conduct of one party to the prejudice of the other.' MacKay v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., 118 Conn. 538, 548, 173 A. 783, 787; Linahan v. Linahan, 131 Conn 307, 327, 39 A.2d 895. Its two essential elements are: one party must do or say something which is intended or calculated to induce another to believe in the existence of certain facts and to act on that belief; and the other party, influenced thereby, must change his position or do some act to his injury which he otherwise would not have done. Pet Car Products, Inc. v. Barnett, 150...

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29 cases
  • Banerjee v. Roberts
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Connecticut
    • July 31, 1986
    ...held that "equitable estoppel is available only for protection and cannot be used as a weapon of assault." Dickau v. Town of Glastonbury, 156 Conn. 437, 442, 242 A.2d 777 (1968), quoting Hebb v. Zoning Board of Appeals, 150 Conn. 539, 543, 192 A.2d 206 (1963). Accordingly, inasmuch as the p......
  • Zeyer v. Bd. of Educ.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Connecticut
    • March 18, 2015
    ...(“[E]stoppel is generally not considered a cause of action, but rather is pleaded as a special defense.”); Dickau v. Town of Glastonbury, 156 Conn. 437, 242 A.2d 777, 780 (1968) (“[E]quitable estoppel is available only for protection and cannot be used as a weapon of assault.”). But even if......
  • O'Brien v. Board of Tax Review
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • July 15, 1975
    ...do novo and the ultimate question is the ascertainment of the true and actual value of the applicant's property. Dickau v. Glastonbury, 156 Conn. 437, 441-44, 242 A.2d 777; Sibley v. Middlefield, supra, 143 Conn. 106, 120 A.2d This appeal relates to the assessment of taxes based on valuatio......
  • Zieba v. Middlesex Mut. Assur. Co.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Connecticut
    • November 2, 1982
    ...thereby, must change his position or do some act to his injury which he would otherwise not have done." Dickau v. Glastonbury, 156 Conn. 437, 441, 242 A.2d 777, 780 (1968). See also Spear-Newman, Inc. v. Modern Floors Corp., 149 Conn. 88, 91, 175 A.2d 565, 567 (1961). Additionally, a party ......
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