Levine v. Town of SterlingAnnotate this Case
The Town's building officials refused to issue permits to Plaintiff-Appellant Levine for two dwelling units Plaintiff wanted to build on his property. Plaintiff sued for permission to build but lost at trial and appealed, challenging the Town's authority to change its mind after considerable time and money was spent on development. Plaintiff also argueed that there were problems with the trial court's conclusion on his municipal estoppel claim. The Court found that the town properly enacted its land use ordinance, but the lower court improperly applied the law to Plaintiff's municipal estoppel claim to allow him damages for reliance on Town's initial permission to build. Starting in 2005, Plaintiff sought permission from the Town to develop a parcel of land. In 2006, the Town amended its land use ordinance to prohibit the construction of more than one dwelling on a lot, but did not expressly provide whether the revisions would apply to projects already in development. A February, 2006 meeting of the board of selectmen passed a resolution to allow Plaintiff's project to proceed; a September, 2006 meeting rescinded the February approval, and reserved the right to enforce the Town's land use ordinances against Plaintiff's project. In November, 2006, Plaintiff sought the building permits for work already in progress, and the Town refused to issue them. The Court affirmed the lower court's determination that the Town's board had authority under state law to pass the September, 2006 resolution. However, though the Court agreed with Plaintiff that he had demonstrated significant time and money was spent in developing his land. The Court held that the standard used to decide was too strict under state law, and ordered a new trial to resolve Plaintiff's municipal estoppel claim.