Karen v. Town of East Haddam

Citation155 A.2d 921,146 Conn. 720
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court
Decision Date17 November 1959
PartiesFrank KAREN et al. v. TOWN OF EAST HADDAM et al. Supreme Court of Errors of Connecticut

Timothy O. Fanning, Hartford, for appellants (plaintiffs).

Julian D. Rosenberg, East Haddam, with whom was Thomas W. Flood, Middletown, for appellees (defendants).

Before BALDWIN, C. J., and KING, MURPHY and MELLITZ, JJ. *

BALDWIN, Chief Justice.

The plaintiffs in this action own land in East Haddam and seek a declaratory judgment concerning the constitutionality of an ordinance of the town licensing and regulating trailer and mobile home parks. They also seek a temporary and a permanent injunction restraining the selectmen, the chief of police, the building inspector and the health inspector of the town from enforcing the ordinance.

We shall consider first a matter of procedure. The prayers for relief in the complaint ask for (1) a declaratory judgment on the constitutional validity of the ordinance and (2) a temporary and permanent injunction against its enforcement. An order to show cause upon the motion for a temporary injunction was issued, returnable before a judge of the Superior Court. After a hearing, the judge filed a memorandum of decision in which he passed upon the plaintiffs' claims of unconstitutionality of the ordinance, denying some of their claims but sustaining others, and directed that a temporary injunction issue against the enforcement of the provisions he found invalid. The parties stipulated that the judge's decision should 'become the decision and judgment of the * * * Superior Court upon the issues presented and * * * that Judgment after Motion made and duly presented may be entered in said Court in accordance' with the stipulation. In an action for a declaratory judgment, relief consequential to the determination of the legal rights involved may be sought and granted. Practice Book, § 278(c), (d); Alfred E. Joy Co., Inc. v. New Amsterdam Casualty Co., 98 Conn. 794, 805, 120 A. 684; New Haven Water Co. v. City of New Haven, 131 Conn. 456, 464, 40 A.2d 763; Scully v. Town of Westport, 145 Conn. 648, 653, 145 A.2d 742. In the case at bar, however, the prayer for a declaratory judgment added nothing which the plaintiffs could not have claimed on their prayer for injunctive relief. To successfully challenge the constitutionality of legislation, the challenger must show that his interests are adversely affected. State v. Hurliman, 143 Conn. 502, 506, 123 A.2d 767; Cyphers v. Allyn, 142 Conn. 699, 707, 118 A.2d 318. A plaintiff cannot obviate this necessity by asking for a declaratory judgment and thereby require the court to pass upon a series of moot questions. The rule relating to actions for declaratory judgments relieves the court of any such duty. Practice Book, § 277; Liebeskind v. City of Waterbury, 142 Conn. 155, 158, 112 A.2d 208, and cases cited. Whether or not the plaintiffs' method of procedure is responsible for the stipulation for the entry of a final judgment on the judge's memorandum of decision on the application for a temporary injunction, the stipulation on its face appears to put the plaintiffs out of court. Since, however, the court treated the stipulation as a method of making the memorandum of decision the basis of a judgment from which an appeal would lie, we shall so treat it.

The case was submitted on an agreed statement of facts and a copy of the ordinance. A statement of Frank J. Sparks, Jr., claimed by the plaintiffs to be an expert witness in the matter of trailer and mobile home parks, was offered by the plaintiffs and marked as an exhibit. The facts found by the court may be stated in summary as follows: On June 27, 1957, the defendant town, in a town meeting, adopted 'An Ordinance to License and Regulate Trailer Parks and Mobile Home Parks in the Town of East Haddam.' The ordinance was published on July 9, 1957, in 'The Middletown Press,' a newspaper having a circulation in the town of East Haddam. On March 27, 1957, the plaintiffs purchased twenty-one acres of land in East Haddam with the intention of constructing a mobile home park. Before June 27, 1957, they had contracted for building roads, installing water mains, septic tanks and drainage fields, and setting poles to convey electric power. On June 27, ten spaces for mobile homes had been completed and were ready for use. Eight mobile homes had been placed in the park and connected with water lines and septic tanks in conformance with the state sanitary code, and electric meters had been installed. The ten completed spaces were fronted by a road 20 feet wide, adjoined one another and were located approximately 400 feet from the public highway. Each mobile home, when placed upon the plaintiffs' land, had sanitary facilities and appliances ready to function. The cost of the utilities installed by the plaintiffs was approximately $4500. The mobile homes were owned and occupied by persons other than the plaintiffs. Had the plaintiffs not stopped construction pending litigation concerning their rights under the ordinance, they could have completed 100 spaces for mobile homes on their land by July 1, 1958. They have refused to comply with the ordinance or to seek the permit required by it for their mobile home park.

The trial court concluded that the town was empowered to enact the ordinance by virtue of Public Acts 1957, No. 354 (Rev.1958, § 7-148) which took effect on May 21, 1957, and that the ordinance became effective fifteen days after its publication on July 9, 1957. Cum.Sup.1955, § 249d (as amended, Rev.1958, § 7-157).

The plaintiffs assign error in the refusal of the court to incorporate in the finding twenty paragraphs of the draft finding. To support these paragraphs, the plaintiffs offer the statement of Frank A. Sparks, Jr., which was mentioned above. They have printed it in the appendix to their brief. The court, at the conclusion of the finding, stated: 'All exhibits are hereby made a part of the record on appeal and may be used in the Supreme Court of Errors without being printed.' This does not mean that the facts set forth in the Sparks statement, which was marked as an exhibit, are found by the court. Goldblatt v. Ferrigno, 138 Conn. 39, 41, 82 A.2d 152. At most, the exhibit is evidence in the case available to correct the finding, although even this is questionable in view of the lack of a certified transcript. See Goldblatt v. Ferrigno, supra, 138 Conn. 42, 82 A.2d 154. Even if the exhibit is available to correct the finding, we cannot say that the trial court was compelled to find the facts recited in it. See Chouinard v. Zoning Commission, 139 Conn. 728, 97 A.2d 562. The other error assigned with regard to the finding has no merit and requires no discussion. No corrections in the finding are warranted.

The plaintiffs claim that the ordinance violates § 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the federal constitution. This article includes substantially the same guarantees as article first, §§ 1 and 12, of our state constitution. State ex rel. Brush v. Sixth Taxing District, 104 Conn. 192, 195, 132 A. 561. Generally speaking, the authority of the defendant town to license and regulate mobile homes and mobile home parks falls within the domain of the police power. That power can be exercised for the protection of the public health, safety and welfare. Regulatory legislation must serve one or more of those purposes and must do it in a manner which is reasonable. Pierce v. Albanese, 144 Conn. 241, 249, 129 A.2d 606; United Interchange, Inc. v. Spellacy, 144 Conn. 647, 654, 136 A.2d 801. What local conditions require and the method of meeting those requirements are primarily matters of legislative concern. Courts can interfere only when the measures taken do not serve the public health, safety or welfare or are arbitrary and unreasonable. Town of Hartland v. Jensen's Inc., 146 Conn. 697, 703, 15 A.2d 754; Clark v. Town Council, 145 Conn. 476, 482, 144 A.2d 327; Leach v. Florkosky, 145 Conn. 490, 494, 144 A.2d 334. 'When a question of constitutionality is raised, the court presumes validity and sustains the legislation unless it clearly violates constitutional principles.' State v. Gordon, 143 Conn. 698, 703, 125 A.2d 447, 481; Edwards v. City of Hartford, 145 Conn. 141, 145, 139 A.2d 599. The plaintiffs have the burden of overcoming this presumption. Franklin Furniture Co. v. City of Bridgeport, 142 Conn. 510, 514, 115 A.2d 435; Murphy, Inc. v. Town of Westport, 131 Conn. 292, 303, 40 A.2d 177, 156 A.L.R. 568. The validity of the legislation must be tested by its effect upon the plaintiffs under the facts of this case and not under some other circumstances. Pierce v. Albanese, supra, 144 Conn. 251, 129 A.2d 613; Corthouts v. Town of Newington, 141 Conn. 284, 288, 99 A.2d 112, 38 A.L.R.2d 1136.

The ordinance is lengthy. It is necessary for the purposes of this opinion to set forth only the substance of the provisions which the plaintiffs attack on constitutional grounds. We shall consider these provisions in the light of the general principles hereinbefore stated. Before we discuss the provisions, we shall refer to pertinent definitions. The ordinance (§ 1) defines a 'trailer coach' as a 'vehicle used or so constructed as to permit its use not only as a conveyance upon the public * * * highways, but as a dwelling and sleeping place occupied by one or more persons.' The term 'trailer,' as used in the ordinance, embraces both 'trailer coaches and mobile homes.' § 1. The plaintiffs claim that there is a distinction between trailers used for temporary occupancy and mobile homes and that they should be treated differently. There is nothing, however, in the facts found which furnishes a basis for a general distinction between them such as would forbid their being classified together. Town of Hartland v. Jensen's, Inc., supra, 147 Conn. 704, 155 A.2d 754. Under the ordinance (§ 1), a 'trailer park' is a 'plot of ground upon which two or more...

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  • Snyder v. Town of Newtown
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • May 31, 1960
    ...provisions of §§ 1 and 12 of article first of our state constitution have substantially the same meaning. Karen v. Town of East Haddam, 146 Conn. 720, 726, 155 A.2d 921; New Haven Metal & Heating Supply Co. v. Danaher, 128 Conn. 213, 219, 21 A.2d 383; State ex rel. Brush v. Sixth Taxing Dis......
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    ...judgment determining constitutionality of municipal zoning regulations governing location of parochial schools); Karen v. East Haddam, 146 Conn. 720, 155 A.2d 921 (1959) (action for declaratory judgment determining constitutionality of local ordinance governing licensing of trailer and mobi......
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    ...court has frequently declared that "[o]ne of the main purposes of zoning is the maintenance of property values." Karen v. East Haddam, 146 Conn. 720, 729, 155 A.2d 921 (1959); Libby v. Board of Zoning Appeals, 143 Conn. 46, 53, 118 A.2d 894 (1955); Abbadessa v. Board of Zoning Appeals, 134 ......
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