Judge Denies New Canaan Homeowner’s Motion To Quash; ‘Sober House’ Lawsuit Headed Toward Trial

In a closely followed lawsuit that appears headed to trial, a judge last week denied a motion filed on behalf of the New Canaan woman who owns a West Road property where a “sober house” is operating.

An attorney representing the owner of 909 West Road had argued in a March 9 filing that his client should not need to appear and testify in court this week, as spelled out in a subpoena from a next-door neighbor who is suing her in order to halt the facility’s operation.

The subpoena filed on behalf of neighbor Thom Harrow also is “unreasonable, oppressive and burdensome because it seeks production of documents that are plainly irrelevant,” according to the Motion to Quash filed by attorney Robert Maslan of Darien-based Maslan Associates PC.

“The subpoena’s overly broad document requests for ‘any communications … concerning the use and/or occupancy of the subject premises’ go far beyond the scope of this purported private zoning enforcement and/or nuisance action, in which Plaintiff bears the burden to prove that defendants’ conduct constitutes an unreasonable interference with his use and enjoyment of his own property … or violates the Town of New Canaan’s zoning regulations … It is difficult to see how defendants’ communications regarding the property at issue are relevant to plaintiff’s allegations that defendants have already interfered with plaintiff’s use and enjoyment of his property (which allegations the evidence will show are entirely false) or violated the zoning regulations (which must, to the extent defendants’ proposed use of the property is inconsistent with them, be waived or modified pursuant to the federal Fair Housing Act).”

Judge Kevin Tierney of the state Superior Court in Stamford on March 9 denied the motion.

The matter is scheduled to go to trial May 16, according to Connecticut Judicial Branch records.

The legal proceeding is running parallel to Harrow’s appeal locally of the town’s determination that a company called ‘The Lighthouse’ may operate a sober house in Anne-Lie Sparks’ home without a special or health permit. Town officials last week heard the appeal and—after attorneys for both sides presented different versions of what legally is required of New Canaan in this case—continued it to next month. The Zoning Board of Appeals said it would seek additional legal counsel prior to making a decision.

In addition to Sparks, two managing partners of The Lighthouse are named as defendants in Harrow’s suit, which seeks a temporary injunction of the sober house’s operations.

Harrow is represented in both the civil court case and local zoning appeal by Bridgeport-based Green & Gross PC.

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