On Demand: Staying Out of Court by Avoiding Pitfalls

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The road to planning is paved with legal pitfalls. Don’t let your commissioners and board members trip up! Turn to experts for advice. What constitutes a conflict of interest? How can your commissioners gather information without stepping out of bounds? Get tips on meeting management, the review process, and administrative rules that can help your community steer clear of court.

This is a commission and board training product.

Product Details

60 minutes
Date Published
Sept. 1, 2007
APA Education / Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

About the Speakers

Dwight Merriam
Dwight H. Merriam founded Robinson & Cole’s Land Use Group in 1978. He represents land owners, developers, governments and individuals in land use matters. Dwight is a Fellow and Past President and of the American Institute of Certified Planners, a former Director of the American Planning Association, a former chair of APA’s Planning and Law Division, a former chair of the American Bar Association’s national Section of State and Local Government Law; the Connecticut member of Owners’ Counsel of America, a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, a member of the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute National Advisory Board, a Fellow of the Connecticut Bar Foundation, a Counselor of Real Estate, a member of the Anglo-American Real Property Institute, and a Fellow of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers. He has taught land use law at Vermont Law School, the University of Connecticut School of Law, and the Quinnipiac Law School where he is now a Distinguished Practitioner in Residence and has published over 200 articles and twelve books and including Inclusionary Zoning Moves Downtown, The Takings Issue, The Complete Guide to Zoning, and Eminent Domain Use and Abuse: Kelo in Context. He is lead author of the leading casebook in his field, Planning and Control of Land Development, and co-editor of the leading treatise in the field, Rathkopf’s The Law of Planning and Zoning 4th. Dwight has been named to the Connecticut Super Lawyers list in the area of Land Use Law since 2006, is ranked the number 2 Connecticut Super Lawyer in Connecticut 2017 and 2018, is one of the Top 50 Connecticut Super Lawyers in Connecticut 2014, one of the Top 100 New England Super Lawyers in 2014 (Super Lawyers is a registered trademark of Key Professional Media, Inc.), ranked in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business in Connecticut in the area of Real Estate, listed in The Best Lawyers in America® in the areas of Land Use & Zoning Law and Real Estate Law since 1991 and the areas of Litigation - Land Use & Zoning and Litigation - Real Estate for 2012 and 2013, and listed in The Best Lawyers in America® as Hartford Lawyer of the Year in the area of Litigation - Land Use & Zoning for 2013 and in the area of Land Use & Zoning Law for 2012. He received his B.A (cum laude) from the University of Massachusetts, his Masters of Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina, where he was invited back as the graduation speaker in 2011, and his J.D. from Yale. He is a featured speaker at many land use seminars, and presents monthly audio land use seminars for the International Municipal Lawyers Association. Dwight has been cited in the national press from The New York Times to People magazine and has appeared on NBC’s The Today Show, MSNBC and public television. Dwight served for seven years on active duty in the Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer, including three tours in Vietnam, and 24 more years in the reserves, retiring as a Captain following his command of the reserve augmentation unit of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. Military Bio: Captain Dwight H. Merriam, U.S. Navy, Surface Warfare (retired), entered Naval Service in July 1968 and graduated from Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island in March 1969. He then attended communication school and the non-lawyer judge advocate general course, ultimately reporting to his ship, the USS KAWISHIWI (AO-146), a fleet replenishment oiler, in Vietnam in September 1969. He completed that tour with the ship and participated in two other deployments to Vietnam aboard KAWISHIWI totaling 17 months in the war zone. He served as the ship’s communications officer and assistant operations officer, and also was an officer of the deck, command duty officer, officer the deck for replenishment operations, and general quarters officer of the deck. In 1971 he augmented to the regular Navy from the reserves. In 1972 Captain Merriam was ordered to the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Unit at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he served as the Senior Advisor and Instructor, and later Assistant Professor of Naval Science, teaching a graduate and undergraduate course in Defense Administration and Military Management for civilian and military students in the University’s interdisciplinary Peace, War, and Defense Curriculum. In 1975 after seven years of active duty Captain Merriam resigned his regular commission and left active duty to pursue his law degree at Yale. He began his 24-year career in the reserves serving in various units and billets, among them training units and shipboard units including USS FULTON (AS-11) stationed at the State Pier in New London, where he served as operations Officer and then Executive Officer. As a Commander he was selected to be the Commanding Officer of Personnel Mobilization Team 101 based in Providence, Rhode Island, responsible for the mobilization of approximately 80,000 Navy reservists and retirees from New England. Captain Merriam was then assigned to Naval Ship Research Center 101, which is the reserve augmentation unit for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, headquartered in Newport, Rhode Island, with a laboratory in New London, Connecticut and facilities in Keyport, Washington, and Andros Island in the Bahamas. He served as Executive Officer. Following his promotion to Captain, he was selected to be the Commanding Officer. In that capacity he oversaw the research and development of undersea warfare and weapons and maintained the unit's preparedness to augment their active-duty counterparts in the event of a mobilization. He served in that capacity through the Gulf War. Following his Naval Undersea Warfare Center command, Captain Merriam served in various capacities assisting NUWC in special projects until his retirement in 1999 after 31 years of service. Captain Merriam is a qualified Surface Warfare Officer and was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal for his Vietnam service, the Navy “E” Ribbon for battle efficiency aboard FULTON, the National Defense Service Medal with a bronze service star for two periods of service, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for operations off North Korea, the Vietnam Service Medal with three bronze service stars for his multiple deployments to Vietnam, the Navy Reserve Sea Service Ribbon, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with 1960’s device. Captain Merriam of Simsbury and Hartford has four children: Judge Sarah A. L. Merriam, U.S.M.J., Jonathan H. Merriam, Alexander H. Merriam, and Lucy C. Merriam.

Edward Sullivan
Edward J. Sullivan has specialized in land use law for over 45 years and is a retired owner in the Portland Office of Garvey Schubert Barer. Mr. Sullivan is a Past Chair of the State and Local Government Law Section of the American Bar Association. Mr. Sullivan served as the city attorney for the cities of Oregon City, Island City and Rivergrove and acts as special counsel for other local governments. Before going into private practice, he served as assistant county counsel and county counsel for Washington County, Oregon, and as legal counsel to the Governor of Oregon. He serves on the Amicus Curiae and Legislative and Policy Committees of the American Planning Association.

Anna Stadnyk
No Bio Available

Eric Kelly
Professor of Urban Planning at Ball State University and an independent planning consultant. A frequent litigation consultant and expert witness on cases involving the regulation of signs, billboards and/or adult businesses. Has consulted with more than 100 local governments in more than 35 states. Since 1995, Kelly has been general editor of the 10-volume Matthew Bender set Zoning and Land Use Controls. An author or co-author of seven technical reports published in the Planning Advisory Service Reports series of the American Planning Association, including Everything you always wanted to know about regulating sex businesses with Connie Cooper. Kelly is a past national president of the American Planning Association, and in 1999, he was inducted as one of the members of College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners. Kelly holds Master of City Planning and Juris Doctor degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in public policy from the Union Institute. He is a member of the Colorado bar.