Planning & Zoning Land Use
With attorneys who live where we practice and decades of land use experience that often pre-dates formal zoning regulations, Cramer & Anderson is uniquely situated to provide knowledgeable land use counsel in northwestern Connecticut. We first explore our clients’ goals and provide a frank assessment of the likelihood of achieving them. We develop a strategy for accomplishing these goals and explain at the outset the process involved.
Cramer & Anderson’s zoning and land use lawyers counsel clients on the intricacies of detail that local government law requires. The firm has vast experience with local boards and commissions, including inland wetlands commissions, planning, zoning, town legislative bodies and state agencies. We understand the correlations between local and state agency regulations that may apply.
In addition to years of experience serving as municipal attorneys for various cities and towns, we also work with developers on subdivision, site plan, or special exception applications, which often involve calling on our network of surveyors, soil scientists, civil engineers and other professionals with whom we have often worked. The firm has many years of experience with drafting and amending regulations and Plans of Conservation and Development, as well as understanding and explaining the intent of the regulatory schematic. This allows us to guide our clients on the overall vision articulated by the communities and how that vision influences land use decisions by its commissions.
Our depth of experience within the firm in municipal law and land use, environmental law, litigation and real estate transactions allows us to cross-consult and team handle many matters. This happens at the request of the lead lawyer and gains almost immediate in-house response.
Our offices across northwestern Connecticut and in Danbury give us broad geographical representation. Cramer & Anderson has established a reputation for providing land use clients with cost-effective legal services, and our attorneys have represented individuals and businesses before the majority of towns in Litchfield County, as well as towns across Connecticut.
As needed, we litigate appeals from decisions of local land use boards in Superior Court and higher. We have an impressive record of success in those appeals. We also have an extensive appellate court practice to handle significant land use cases taken to the appellate and Supreme Courts of the State of Connecticut.
In recent years, some land use developers faced with public opposition to controversial projects have brought defamation lawsuits against people who publicly speak against the project. These suits have become known as Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (“SLAPP”). Both developers and people inclined to speak publicly about land use projects need to know about this trend, which threatens the rights of freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment.
Cramer & Anderson partner Dan Casagrande recently obtained a dismissal of a SLAPP suit brought by a developer against an individual who posted a YouTube video critical of the developer’s affordable housing land use project pending before a local zoning commission. The court dismissed the action without requiring a trial or discovery (which would have financially crippled our client).
The court ruled that the comments were not defamatory as a matter of law and that they were protected by the First Amendment’s fair comment doctrine. Cramer & Anderson lawyers are available to advise both developers and public commentators on their land use proposals regarding the dangers SLAPP suits pose for both sides in controversial land use projects.