Eight years ago, a woman in Connecticut buried her late husband on their 8-acre property, where previous owners had been interring the dead for generations. But her subsequent attempt to make sure this was all okay with local authorities has led her on a legal wild goose chase all the way to the state Supreme Court — and now all the way back to where she started.
The legal lunacy began after the woman’s husband passed away in 2004. Even though she’d had his burial supervised by a licensed funeral director, someone suggested to her afterward that she check with the state anyway to make sure it was okay to bury someone on her property.
The matter was passed from the state back to the town, where a zoning enforcement officer issued a cease-and-desist order against the widow.
She appealed to the zoning board and a month later, received a letter informing her that while the burial was not permitted, the cease and desist order was being withdrawn to allow the widow time to “remedy the situation.”
Because the board withdrew the C&D order, the widow withdrew her appeal. But she also petitioned the state Superior Court for a ruling on the legality of the burial.
But yesterday, by a 4-3 vote, the state’s highest court ruled that the widow skipped steps and thus has to go back to re-filing her appeal with the local zoning board.
From the Hartford Courant:
The Supreme Court majority said Piquet was premature in appealing local zoning opposition to her husband’s private burial to the state court system. The decision said she should have appealed initially to the local Zoning Board of Appeals and exhausted all opportunities to resolve the dispute administratively before turning to the courts.
“… [W]hen a landowner obtains a clear and definite interpretation of zoning regulations applicable to the landowner’s current use of his or her property, the landowner properly may appeal that interpretation to the local zoning board of appeals,” the decision said in part.
“So we start the program all over again,” said the widow’s attorney.