Evan J. Seeman

Associate

  • Overview

    Biography

    Evan Seeman concentrates his practice in three areas – religious land use litigation, land use and zoning, and real property litigation. He is a member of the firm’s  Real Estate + Development Group, and he represents developers, landowners, municipalities, corporations, and advocacy groups.

    Religious Land Use Litigation

    Mr. Seeman defends municipalities nationwide in cases involving the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), and he writes for the blog RLUIPA Defense (www.rluipa-defense.com).  Mr. Seeman advises municipalities on religious land use issues in the following ways:

    • Revising municipal zoning codes to comply with RLUIPA
    • Counseling municipal land use agencies during the zoning application process to avoid or mitigate potential liability
    • Defending municipalities in RLUIPA litigation in federal court

    Mr. Seeman has defended municipalities over the denial of a zoning application to develop a mosque, the proposed development of ninety acres as a Catholic cemetery in a rural community, and claims brought by a rabbinical college alleging that a zoning code discriminates against religion.  Mr. Seeman also has experience representing religious institutions.  He represented St. Vincent de Paul Place, Norwich, Inc. and the Catholic Church in three federal lawsuits over the denial of zoning relief to operate a soup kitchen and food pantry serving hundreds of individuals daily, and he helped to negotiate a favorable settlement to allow their continued operation.

    Land Use – Zoning

    Mr. Seeman advises clients on meeting requirements for land development and coastal management development, and securing necessary municipal and state permits to do so.  Mr. Seeman appears before municipal land use agencies and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).  He works with planning professionals, and currently serves as the Chair Elect of the Planning and Law Division of the American Planning Association.

    Mr. Seeman successfully represented applicants in contested administrative hearings before DEEP hearing officers for coastal development projects. He represented a municipality and obtained the dismissal of an injunction action brought by neighboring property owners who were contesting municipal approval of a 130,000-square-foot ground mounted solar array system to power a local elementary school.  He has been involved in more than a dozen zoning appeals, and most recently secured a judgment on behalf of a land trust challenging planning and zoning commission approval to develop a landfill site located in a floodplain. He previously served as the Chair of the Planning and Zoning and Municipal Law sections of the Young Lawyers Section of the Connecticut Bar Association.

    Real Property Litigation

    Mr. Seeman handles most other real property disputes. He has experience advising municipalities and landowners through the eminent domain process, in lawsuits involving the right to take, and on just compensation to acquire condemned property.  He obtained a favorable result in a housing discrimination case for a prospective tenant who was refused housing based on her lawful source of income (State of Connecticut guaranteed security deposit).  Mr. Seeman also represents clients in cases involving inverse condemnation, easements, restrictive covenants, quiet title actions, First Amendment and equal protection issues, landlord/tenant disputes, and real property tax appeals.

    Mr. Seeman has been listed as a Rising Star in Connecticut Super Lawyers® in the area of Land Use/Zoning since 2013. (Super Lawyers is a registered trademark of Key Professional Media, Inc.)  He was recognized in the Connecticut Law Tribune’s 2016 New Leaders in the Law Yearbook, and he was the firm’s 2014 Pro Bono Award recipient.  Before joining the firm, Mr. Seeman volunteered his time with the Children’s Law Center of Connecticut, Inc., and prior to that clerked for the Honorable F. Herbert Gruendel of the Connecticut Appellate Court.

  • Experience
    • Experience

      Experience

        Religious Land Use Litigation

      • Defended municipality in federal lawsuit filed by church seeking to develop ninety acres of property in rural community as a religious cemetery.  Prevailed on several claims at the summary judgment stage.

      • Negotiated a favorable settlement to allow a Norwich organization to operate a soup kitchen and food pantry which serves hundreds of individuals daily. Represented client in zoning applications and in three federal lawsuits after applications were denied by zoning agencies.

      • Have advised municipalities in ways to amend zoning codes to comply with RLUIPA and assisted communities in Kansas and California in obtaining favorable settlements.

      • Land Use - Zoning

      • Represented waterfront property owner in Greenwich seeking to install docking facility in a six-day evidentiary hearing before the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and resulting litigation.

      • Represented landowner to obtain dismissal of an abatement order issued by DEEP for work done in accordance with a municipally approved coastal site plan, on the ground that the order exceeded DEEP’s statutory authority.

      • Obtained dismissal of injunction action brought by neighboring property owners challenging municipal approval of a 130,000 square foot ground mounted solar array system to power a local elementary school, and advised municipality through zoning process.

      • Real property litigation

      • Currently representing landowners in litigation over a municipality’s desire to take their properties and redevelop them as part of a waterfront regional shopping center.

      • Prevailed in housing discrimination lawsuit for a prospective tenant who was refused housing based on her lawful source of income (State of Connecticut guaranteed security deposit). 

      • Represented non-profit affordable housing entity in tax appeal involving three properties in Norwich at the local level, filed suit, and negotiated favorable settlement, saving the client tens of thousands of dollars.

    • Professional Associations

      Professional Associations

      American Bar Association

      American Planning Association
      Chair-Elect of Planning and Law Division (2017 - Present)
      Secretary/Treasurer of Planning and Law Division (2014 - 2016)
      Education & Outreach Committee of Planning and Law Division (2012 - 2014)

      Connecticut Bar Association
      Planning & Zoning Section (2011 - Present)
      Young Lawyers Section, Chair of Planning & Zoning Section (2014 - 2015)
      Young Lawyers Section, Chair of Municipal Law Section (2012 - 2014)
      Young Lawyers Section, Executive Committee (2012 - 2015)

      Oliver Ellsworth American Inn of Court
      Barrister (2012 - 2015)

      American Planning Association, Connecticut Chapter
      Government Affairs Committee
    • Honors + Awards

      Honors + Awards

      Listed as a Rising Star in Connecticut Super Lawyers® in the area of Land Use/Zoning since 2013 (Super Lawyers is a registered trademark of Key Professional Media, Inc.)

      Robinson+Cole Pro Bono Service Award Recipient, 2014

      Connecticut Law Tribune, recognized in 2016 New Leaders in the Law Yearbook 

    • Community Involvement

      Community Involvement

      Camp Courant
      Advisory Board

      University of Connecticut School of Law
      Alumni Mentor (2016)
  • NEWS + PRESS
    • Publications

      Publications

      "'Content Neutral' Land Use Regulation after Reed: Recent Developments in Signs, Adult Businesses, and Religious Uses," published in Planning & Law (Spring 2017)
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      "RLUIPA Case of the Year? Minnesota Municipality Uses RLUIPA’s Safe Harbor Provision to Avoid Liability," published in Planning & Law, co-authored with Karla L. Chaffee, Dwight H. Merriam and John F. X. Peloso Jr. (Spring 2017)
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      "Avoiding and Defending Against RLUIPA Claims," published in Practical Law, co-authored with John F. X. Peloso Jr. (12/22/2016)
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      "Defining Religious Exercise," published in Planning, in the Legal Lessons column (May 2016)
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      "Five Tips for Planners and Planning Commissioners Reviewing Religious Land Use Applications," published in Connecticut Planning, co-authored with Brian R. Smith, a publication of the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association (Spring 2016)
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      "They Can Take Our Raisins, But They Will Never Take Our Freedom: The Supreme Court 'Raisin Case' Part Deux," published in Planning & Law (Spring 2016)
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      "Sign Regulation Turned on Its Head," published in Connecticut Planning, a publication of the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association (Fall 2015)
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      "Finding Salvation in Religious Law's Safe Harbor," published in Connecticut Law Tribune (3/23/2015)
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      "RLUIPA Defense Tactics; How to Avoid & Defend Against RLUIPA Claims," published in Zoning and Planning Law Report (December 2014)
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      "A $6.5 Million Lesson in RLUIPA Defense," published in Planning & Law (Summer/Fall 2014)
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      "New RLUIPA Suit: Bayview, Texas Sued Over Zoning Ordinance Prohibiting Churches & Religious Schools," published in Texas City Attorneys Association Newsletter, co-authored with Dwight H. Merriam (7/22/2014)

      "U.S. Supreme Court Invalidates Massachusetts Abortion Clinic Buffer Zone Law," published in Texas City Attorneys Association Newsletter, co-authored with Dwight H. Merriam (7/1/2014)

      "Federal Court Finds Dallas Ordinance Violates Religious Freedom of Church Ministering to Homeless," published in Texas City Attorneys Association Newsletter, co-authored with Dwight H. Merriam (6/27/2013)

      "I Heard It Through the Grapevine...The Impact of Horne v. United States Department of Agriculture," published in American Planning Association Planning & Environmental Law (September 2013)

      "Navigating History: Montana and State Riverbed Ownership," published in Law360, co-authored with Brian R. Smith and Sorell E. Negro (4/2/2012)

      "The Case of the Disappearing Public Highway," published in Connecticut Law Tribune (4/11/2011)

    • Presentations

      Presentations

      "Real Estate Law for Planners," co-presented with Brian R. Smith, at the American Planning Association National Planning Conference, Planning in Motion, held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City (5/9/2017)
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      "Planning and Zoning for First Amendment-Protected Land Uses," at the American Planning Association National Planning Conference, Planning in Motion, held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City (5/8/2017)
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      "RLUIPA Land Use Claims—Latest Litigation Trends and Key Case Law Developments," co-presented with John F. X. Peloso Jr. and Karla L. Chaffee, webinar (2/22/2017)
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      "Planning for Religious Uses in an Age of Religious Diversity and Lawsuits," co-presented with land use lawyers Daniel P. Dalton and Noel W. Sterett, a webinar hosted by the Planning Webcast Series and sponsored by the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association (8/5/2016)
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      "FHA, RLUIPA & Telecommunications Act Compliance," at the American Planning Association's (APA) National Planning Conference in Phoenix, Arizona (4/3/2016)
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      "Planning for Religious Uses under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons (RLUIPA) Act," panelist for webinar sponsored by the American Planning Association's (APA) Planning and Law Division (10/22/2015)
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      "Ethics at Risk – A Commissioner (or Commission) Goes Rogue – What’s Next?" moderated session at the SNEAPA 2015 Conference, held on September 24 and 25 in Hartford, Connecticut (9/24/2015)
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      "How to Avoid and Defend RLUIPA Suits," co-presented with Karla L. Chaffee and Michael S. Giaimo (6/8/2015)

      "Ethical Rules and Considerations for Planners, Plan Commissioners, and Lawyers," co-presented with Brian R. Smith and Hiram Peck, AICP, director of community planning & development in Simsbury, Connecticut, and David S. Silverman, AICP, of Ancel Glink in Chicago, Illinois, at webinar sponsored by the American Planning Association's Planning and Law Division (4/8/2015)
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      "What Every Administrative Law and Land Use Attorney Should Know: Tips, Tricks, and Pitfalls CLE," program organizer, presented by CBA's Young Lawyers Section in New Britain, Connecticut (3/31/2015)

      "RLUIPA Defense: Avoiding and Defending RLUIPA Claims," co-presented with Hiram B. Carey III and Karla L. Chaffee, spoke at the Touro Law Center's Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Institute's inaugural Bagels with the Boards CLE (2/27/2015)
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      "Religious Land Use Litigation Since 2000," served as panelist at ABA Midyear Meeting (2/5/2015)
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      "Litigating Religious Land Use Cases," co-presented with John F. X. Peloso Jr. and Daniel Dalton of Dalton & Tomich, PLC, panelist at American Bar Association webinar (11/6/2014)
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      "Tips and Traps in the Land Use Approval Process and Litigation," at Connecticut Bar Association (CBA) Law Center in New Britain, Connecticut, co-presented with Brian R. Smith and the Honorable Marshall K. Berger Jr., presiding judge of the Land Use Litigation Docket; and Hiram Peck, director of Community Planning & Development for the Town of Simsbury, Connecticut (3/31/2014)
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      "Ethical Rules and Considerations for Planners, Plan Commissioners, and Lawyers," co-presenter for APA ethics webinar (11/22/2013)

      "Up to Our Eyeballs in Wetlands," at International Municipal Lawyers Association, Moderator (5/13/2013)

      "The Nuts and Bolts of Freedom of Information Law," at Connecticut Bar Association CLE program (1/23/2013)

      "Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act," at Connecticut Association of Zoning Enforcement Officials Annual Seminar (10/3/2012)

      "Land Banking: An Opportunity for Southern New England?" at Southern New England American Planning Association Conference: Planning at the Crossroads, Moderator (9/21/2012)

      "Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act Claims: Strategies for Local Governments to Avoid or Defend RLUIPA Actions," co-presented with Dwight H. Merriam, Hiram B. Carey III, Karla L. Chaffee and John R. Bauer, William J. Kelleher III, webinar, presented by Strafford Publications (3/13/2012)

    • News

      R+C in the News

      • June 2, 2017

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Write Articles for APA Publication

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      • May 31, 2017

        Real Estate + Development Group Presents at APA 2017 National Planning Conference

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      • February 28, 2017

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Examine Litigation Trends in RLUIPA Land Use Claims

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      • January 17, 2017

        Hartford Lawyer Selected Chair-Elect of APA's Planning and Law Division

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      • January 9, 2017

        Evan Seeman and John Peloso Publish Note for Practical Law

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      • September 22, 2016

        Evan Seeman Selected to Serve as an Alumni Mentor

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      • August 9, 2016

        Evan Seeman Participates in Webinar on Planning for Religious Uses

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      • June 2, 2016

        Evan Seeman Writes about Religious Exercise in Planning Magazine

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      • May 19, 2016

        Hartford Land Use Lawyers Publish Article on Religious Land Use Applications in Connecticut Planning

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      • May 4, 2016

        Land Use Lawyers Participate in APA National Planning Conference

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      • April 14, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Pen Articles for Planning & Law Newsletter

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      • March 8, 2016

        Land Use Lawyers Negotiate Settlement Allowing Soup Kitchen to Remain Open

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      • February 4, 2016

        Robinson+Cole RLUIPA Defense Lawyers Featured in News

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      • December 29, 2015

        Evan Seeman Publishes Article on Sign Regulation in Connecticut Planning Magazine

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      • October 27, 2015

        Evan Seeman Presents at APA RLUIPA Webinar

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      • September 30, 2015

        Land Use Lawyers Present at SNEAPA 2015 Conference

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      • July 6, 2015

        Land Use Lawyers Present IMLA Webinar on Avoiding and Defending RLUIPA Suits

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      • May 15, 2015

        Robinson+Cole Is a Sponsor of APA National Planning Conference

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      • April 23, 2015

        Land Use Lawyers Speak at APA Ethics Webinar

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      • April 20, 2015

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Publish Articles for Special Edition of Connecticut Law Tribune

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      • March 6, 2015

        Land Use Lawyers Present at Touro Law's Bagels with the Boards CLE

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      • February 13, 2015

        Evan Seeman Presents on Religious Land Use Litigation at ABA Midyear Meeting

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      • January 22, 2015

        Evan Seeman Writes Article on RLUIPA Defense Tactics

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      • December 4, 2014

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Speak on Religious Land Use Litigation

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      • July 8, 2014

        Four Hartford Office Lawyers Elected to CBA's YLS Executive Committee

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      • May 16, 2014

        Robinson+Cole Sponsors Crawford 2014 Annual Dinner

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      • April 14, 2014

        Hartford Lawyers Participate in CBA Land Use Seminar

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      • February 11, 2014

        Hartford Lawyer Elected to Leadership Position of APA's Planning and Law Division

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      • January 17, 2014

        Steve Elbaum Testifies Before Connecticut General Assembly

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      • December 13, 2013

        Hartford Lawyers Participate in APA Webinar on Ethical Rules

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      • October 29, 2013

        Hartford Lawyer Joins Board of Camp Courant

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      • October 4, 2013

        Hartford Lawyer Authors Article for APA Journal

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      • July 30, 2013

        Hartford Lawyers Co-author Article on Religious Land Use

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      • October 26, 2012

        Evan Seeman Speaks to Connecticut Association of Zoning Enforcement Officials About Religious Land Use

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      • October 9, 2012

        Dwight Merriam and Evan Seeman Launch RLUIPA-Defense Website

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      • September 18, 2012

        Land Use Lawyers Speaking at 2012 Southern New England American Planning Association Conference

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      • March 30, 2012

        Trial and Land Use Lawyers Present Webinar on Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act

      • November 2, 2011

        Robinson & Cole Lawyers Participating in Lawyers Collaborative for Diversity Mentoring Program

      • May 6, 2011

        Attorneys Teach Parkville Community School Students About the Economics of Success

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      • April 14, 2011

        Land Law Associates Write Articles for Connecticut Law Tribune

      R+C News Releases

      • October 18, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Recognized by Super Lawyers®

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      • September 29, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Named “New Leaders in the Law” by the Connecticut Law Tribune

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      • October 19, 2015

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Recognized by Super Lawyers®

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        • View article
      • October 17, 2014

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Recognized by Super Lawyers

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        • View article
      • September 4, 2014

        Robinson+Cole Announces Annual Community Service and Pro Bono Awards

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      • May 22, 2013

        Robinson & Cole Lawyers Provide Pro Bono Support to Norwich Soup Kitchen

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      • January 24, 2013

        Connecticut Superior Court Awards Tenant $109,000 for Discrimination Based on Lawful Source of Income

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      • April 6, 2011

        Robinson & Cole Welcomes 10 New Attorneys

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