Coastal Resources

The coastal zone—that interrelated band of land and water encompassing the nation's coastlines, ports and harbors, major coastal cities, oceans, bays, estuaries, tidal rivers, islands and barrier beaches, coastal plains, and tidal and coastal wetlands—is the place of commerce for many coastal and water-dependent businesses and home to more than half of the U.S. population.

The U.S. Congress recognized the environmental and economic importance of coastal areas by adopting the Coastal Zone Management Act, the Clean Water Act, the Rivers and Harbors Act, the Coastal Barriers Resources Act, and the National Flood Insurance Act, among others, to manage and regulate coastal development activities such as filling and dredging coastal waters and wetlands or constructing seawalls, docks, pilings, and bulkheads for coastal waterfront property owners, marinas, and ferry terminals. Coastal zone states and municipalities have also adopted their own laws and regulations that apply to coastal development activities.

An interdisciplinary alliance of lawyers, environmental analysts, and lobbyists from the firm's environmental, land use, real estate, construction, governmental relations, utility, public finance, and corporate law practices work together to advise the firm's clients on coastal management, permitting, and policy issues and to assist them in obtaining municipal, state, and federal coastal permit approvals for new construction and water-dependent projects and for ongoing business operations. We also help our coastal clients defend enforcement actions and resolve littoral and riparian rights disputes.

    • Experience
      • Represented shorefront property owner in application to Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for permit to rebuild house damaged by Hurricane Irene. Successfully argued that client's house had predated the passage of coastal management statutes in Connecticut and was thus eligible for permit under the simpler certificate of permission program.

      • Represented shorefront property owner in application for variance to rebuild house destroyed by Hurricane Irene. Provided expert testimony before zoning board of appeals on issues concerning impact of variance to town's participation in the National Flood Insurance Program.
      • Represented coastal property owner in application to build extension of existing dock into waters of harbor so that there was a greater depth at which to berth his boat at low tide. Approvals were required from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, as well as the Army Corps of Engineers, who had authority over the federal navigation project in the harbor. The approval from the DEEP also required the recording of a shared dock agreement for the property and the neighboring property owned by the same owner.

      • Represented owner of land along tidal creek bordered by deteriorating wooden bulkhead. Small tidal wetlands area with limited ecological value had developed behind the bulkhead in areas where the land had eroded due to stormwater runoff and tidal-influenced erosion. Client obtained permit from Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to reconstruct bulkhead, fill tidal wetlands behind bulkhead, and plant a new wetland area, which would allow the property to be subdivided into two buildable lots.

      • Successfully represented waterfront homeowners before Connecticut DEP to oppose permitting of neighbor's unauthorized dock that encroached homeowners' littoral rights and caused serious damage to tidal wetlands.

      • After client was served with a notice of violation from the Connecticut DEEP for maintaining what it considered an unauthorized marina, negotiated a resolution that allowed the client to operate the property as a fully licensed marina, without penalties or fines. Also drafted cross easements to allow the marina to operate in the littoral area of an abutting waterfront residential property and to allow the residential property owner to use one of the marina's slips.

      • Represented client in controversial proposal to rebuild pedestrian bridge between two islands off the Connecticut shore and in applications to obtain official authorizations for preexisting docks on the two islands. Successfully argued that, although not a typical coastal activity, the rebuilding of the bridge, which was destroyed in the 1938 hurricane, was an authorized use under the applicable coastal management statutes and a valid exercise of the client's littoral rights.
      • Assisted client with residential dock approval that was derailed by the presence of a mooring near his shoreline. Convinced the state commission responsible for management of the waterway to relocate the mooring and support the client's dock proposal. Also garnered support of the Army Corps of Engineers.
      • Represented developer of 127-unit active adult residential community on 10 acres of waterfront land in contested hearing before Connecticut DEEP on the issuance of a permit to allow on-site community sewerage system using alternative wastewater treatment technology, ultimately securing the necessary permit in the end.

      • Represented shoreline beach community before municipal planning and zoning commission to secure special use permits for sewer and water systems.

      • Represented waterfront homeowner in contested hearing before Connecticut DEP and obtained permit for dock that was opposed by neighbor.

      • Successfully represented marina before Connecticut DEEP to oppose proposed expansion of neighboring marina that would have impeded access to client's marina.

      • Represented waterfront homeowner in negotiating and drafting a littoral boundary line agreement with a neighboring marina.
      • Represented client in all aspects of due diligence, risk management, permitting, site remediation, the transaction, and development of a $250 million global development facility.

      • Defended marina owners and operator from Notice of Violation issued by the Connecticut DEEP and successfully negotiated resolution that permitted all existing structures.

      • Successfully represented waterfront owners, developers, and marinas before state agencies, including contested cases, related to permits and approvals for docks and other structures. 

      • Representation of property owner in its discussions with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for a proposed marine container terminal in Charleston, South Carolina, and the property owner’s desire to relocate the port access road on its property to enable the use of the property for an intermodal transportation facility.

      • Representation of land trust that owns or holds interests in almost 200 acres of open space lands along the Connecticut River. Representation includes legal issues of lands that protect Bald Eagle nesting sites in Rocky Hill, Connecticut.

      • Appeared before the Hartford Flood Commission for several developers or users of streambanks of the Park River and the Connecticut River.

      • Representation of private dam owner in permitting procedure before Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to partially remove structure below regulating threshold, including analysis of permitting criteria for ecosystem impacts and hazard analysis standards.

      • Acted as environmental permitting counsel to a public ferry operation in securing state and federal permits for the expansion of a coastal ferry terminal.

      • Retained by Parsons Brinckerhoff and the City of New York to prepare a regulatory analysis of the city’s proposal to upgrade and convert various existing movable bridges to fixed bridges. Part of this regulatory analysis was assessing the applicability of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to the proposed project actions. 

      • Aquaculture permit project representing a commercial aquaculture operation in securing state and federal structures permits.

      • Represented owner and operator of rowing club in obtaining coastal permits for docks, piers, and related wetlands impacts.

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    • News
      • December 11, 2014

        Robinson+Cole’s New London Office Moves Across Town

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    • Publications + Presentations
    • "The View from the Shore - Regulation as Far as the Eye Can See," published in New England Real Estate Journal, authored by John P. Casey (5/18/2012)

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