SOUTHWICK AT MILFORD CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION, INC. v. 523 WHEELERS FARM ROAD, MILFORD, LLC, SC 18243

Judicial District of Ansonia-Milford

 

Condominiums; Whether Trial Court Correctly Ruled that Defendant's Development Rights Expired; Whether Defendant was Required under General Statutes 47-280 (a) to Complete Certain Improvements Indicated on Site Plan and in Promotional Materials. The plaintiff is an association of owners of units in a condominium complex. In 2003, the defendant acquired the development rights and special declarant rights in the condominium following foreclosure proceedings brought against the condominium's original declarant. On learning of the defendant's plans to construct additional condominium units, the plaintiff brought this action seeking to quiet title and to enjoin the defendant from exercising its development rights, claiming that those rights had expired under the terms of the condominium declaration. The plaintiff noted that the declaration provided that such rights could only be exercised "so long as the declarant is obligated under any warranty or obligation [to unit owners or] owns any units or any security interest on any units," and that the defendant satisfied none of those conditions. The defendant argued that, as the successor to the original declarant, it had an obligation to unit owners to complete improvements pursuant to General Statutes 47-280 (a), which provides that "[e]xcept for improvements labeled "NEED NOT BE BUILT," the declarant shall complete all improvements depicted on any site plan or other graphic representation, including any surveys or plans prepared pursuant to section 47-228, whether or not that site plan or other graphic representation is contained in the public offering statement or in any promotional material distributed by or for the declarant." The defendant noted that the site plan depicted a gazebo and clubhouse that were never constructed and that were not labeled "need not be built," and that several other improvements listed in the condominium's promotional materials, including a dining room and activities center, had never been built. The trial court rejected the defendant's claim and rendered judgment for the plaintiff. The court noted that the gazebo and clubhouse were contained in the "Phase II" portion of the site plan, that the condominium units in Phase II were labeled "need not be built," and that the site plan reserved to the developer the right to withdraw land from Phase II. The court reasoned that, as the defendant had the right to withdraw Phase II from development at any time, it had no obligation under 47-280 (a) to complete the gazebo and clubhouse. The court also determined that the statute did not obligate the defendant to complete the improvements listed in the promotional materials, finding that the obligation imposed by 47-280 (a) did not apply to improvements designated in such materials. The defendant appeals, claiming its development rights have not expired because 47-280 (a) obligated it to complete all improvements not labeled "need not be built" and that the trial court's interpretation of the statute created an exception to the Common Interest Ownership Act never intended by the legislature. The defendant also contends that the court denied it its rights as a successor to the original declarant.