HARBOUR POINTE, LLC v. HARBOUR LANDING CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION et al., SC 18566/18567

Judicial District of New Haven

 

      Condominiums; Easements; Whether Language of Condominium Declaration was Clear and Unambiguous and Reserved Access and Utility Easements in Favor of the Plaintiff's Land; Whether Easement Rights Presently Exist.  In 2007, the plaintiff commenced this action against Harbour Landing Condominium Association (association) and its president, David Potter, seeking injunctive relief and an order quieting title to easements over the association's property.  The plaintiff alleged that the declaration of Harbour Pointe Condominiums grants it an easement to use the complex's driveways and roadways and to install, maintain and repair utility lines, wires, pipes, conduits, sewers and drainage lines on the condominium property.  It further alleged that the association, acting through Potter, has disputed its access and utility easements and informed it that its attempted use of such easements will be treated as a trespass.  In ruling in favor of the plaintiff, the court noted that Harbour Landing Condominiums is an expandable condominium complex, which means that the individual who executed the complex's declaration (the declarant) had the option of adding land and/or other improvements to the complex in accordance with the provisions of the declaration and of the Connecticut Condominium Act of 1976 (Condominium Act).  The declaration described the land that could be added to the complex, which is land that is now owned by the plaintiff, and it provided that the right to expand expired in 1990.  The court indicated that the critical language of the declaration pertaining to the easements states that the easements shall continue until and unless the additional land is added to expand the complex.  The defendants argued that the easement language contained in the declaration is ambiguous and that since the plaintiff's land was never added to the complex and the right to expand has now expired, the complex was fully expanded, and the easements had thus expired.  The court disagreed, concluding that although the right to expand the complex no longer existed, the complex was never expanded to the full extent and that the easements continue to exist and are enforceable rights.  It found that the critical language of the declaration was clear and unambiguous and that the defendants' arguments tortured the plain language of the declaration.  It therefore quieted title to the easements in favor of the plaintiff.  Moreover, it permanently enjoined the defendants from interfering with the plaintiff's use and enjoyment of the easement rights.  The association and Potter have filed separate appeals to the Supreme Court.  They argue that the trial court improperly (1) found that the provisions of the condominium declaration pertaining to the easements were clear and unambiguous, (2) interpreted and applied the provisions of the Condominium Act, (3) held that the condominium declaration properly created, disclosed and reserved the subject easements in accordance with the requirements of the Condominium Act, and (4) failed to construe the ambiguities contained in the declaration against the plaintiff.