William J. Dodge

Director, Environmental, Energy and Telecommunications Chair

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  • Overview

    • Project management prowess, accented by diplomatic finesse and innovative legal solutions for telecommunications, energy and land use.

      Will Dodge’s leading edge practice in the deployment of wireless communications technology in Vermont and New Hampshire for national, regional, and local carriers, as well as infrastructure providers and public safety entities, has spanned the course of 15 years. In Vermont, Will’s defining achievement was working with clients and key stakeholders to establish and refine the current version of the statute known as Section 248a in order to streamline the environmental permitting process for wireless facilities submitted to the Vermont Public Service Board. With a world-class project management team, Will uses Section 248a to secure approvals on behalf of national, regional, and local carriers, public utilities, and tower companies for new and modified communications support structures throughout the state, including in areas with significant local opposition and unique zoning- and title-related challenges. Will has also lead his team in revolutionizing the approach to expedited antenna co-locations and modifications using Section 248a, cutting in half the average time and cost for completing the permitting process for these types of projects, and reducing the prevalence of permitting-based litigation.

      In New Hampshire, by testifying before legislative committees and engaging with key stakeholders, Will’s efforts led to passage of SB101, a bill amending RSA 12:K to dramatically reduce the average processing time and expense associated with antenna co-location and modification permits at the municipal level. In addition, through careful and thoughtful engagement with municipal officials and regional planning professionals, Will has obtained for DRM’s clients approvals for new communications projects throughout the Upper Valley, Lakes Region, North Country, and Greater Keene areas.

      Beyond wireless, Will works with energy and real estate clients on complex permitting matters such as right-of-way acquisition for linear utility projects (including eminent domain), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance, Act 250 land use permitting, Agency of Natural Resource and Department of Environmental Services approvals (including wastewater, stormwater, and wetlands), and Vermont Public Service Board petitions for certificates of public good. He also applies his thoroughness and detail orientation to real estate acquisition and lease / easement review, ensuring that his clients’ telecommunications, energy, and real estate development projects stand on vibration-free terrain.

      Since January 1, 2015, Will has chaired DRM’s Regulated Entities Group, which includes the Environmental Law, Energy and Telecommunications, and Government and Public Affairs groups. In this role, he is responsible for the strategic direction of these groups in support of the firm’s overall objectives, as well as helping DRM attorneys and legal professionals in developing their individual practices.

  • Experience

    • In coordination with multiple external site development teams, Will and his team have organized, coordinated, perfected, and secured approvals for new tower builds and replacement projects throughout Vermont and New Hampshire, each with unique challenges:

      • Resolved landowner opposition through coordinate site work to reposition and redesign communications towers in residential areas where service is needed.
      • Applied technique of siting “decoy” tower in order to leverage negotiations with replacement tower owner in Hanover, NH, using political pressure of municipal government to secure necessary approvals.
      • Negotiated agreement with municipal government to escrow funds for development of new water lines, allowing tower project to proceed in special protection area.
      • Secured certificate of public good for temporary facility within three days in order to avoid loss of network coverage in underserved area.
      • Argued and obtained decisions in the only Section 248a cases to appear before the Vermont Supreme Court, both which helped to define the scope of landowner intervention in a way more favorable to carriers.
      • Obtained approval for a higher tower in Dorset, Vermont than was originally requested in order to ensure better overall coverage for residents and motorists.
      • Resolved complications in shared multi-party access road usage disputes in Milton, St. George, and Winhall, VT, as well as Lempster, NH.
      • Addressed sensitive construction, noise generation, radiofrequency emissions, and aesthetic issues for a tower replacement project in Hyde Park, in an area known for intense prior opposition to tower development.
      • Repelled sustained aesthetic-based challenges from adjoining landowners in Richmond, Weston, Hardwick, Cabot, and Brownington, Vermont, as well as Sandwich, Wolfeboro, and Richmond, New Hampshire.
      • Secured permits and approvals for over 30 sites throughout New Hampshire within a one-year period in order to allow a major commercial carrier to replace existing roaming coverage with new sites, including in multiple municipalities with no prior experience with tower permitting, often in environmentally- and aesthetically- sensitive areas.
      • Worked with External Affairs teams to build support of regional planners and other public officials for the multi-site build-out.
      • Assisted public safety providers with new and replacement towers, and played a key role in the development of a network for a major Vermont public utility in order to address the effects of narrow-banding, and the need to accommodate multiple utilities on a single trunked radio communication system.

      Beyond telecommunications siting, Will’s focus on project management and linear projects has led to important results in the energy, telecommunications, and land use fields:

      • Worked with right-of-way acquisition team to reduce from 67 down to 3 the number of easements required for a natural gas project in Chittenden and Addison Counties in Vermont, including through engagement with Department of Public Service representatives to develop model documents and eminent domain guidance materials.
      • Negotiated a major agreement to expand an existing publicly-funded wireless network in order to reserve capacity for data usage in connection with a SmartGrid electrical distribution rollout for vast stretches of Vermont. Will has also assisted carriers and utilities in designing and perfecting real estate form documents and procedures for site acquisition teams and their compliance officers.
      • Spearheaded legislative effort and managed accompanying litigation related to expansion of NPDES permitting program to cover existing stormwater discharges throughout Chittenden County.
      • Completed complex, 200 year title review of Elizabeth and Ely mines in connection with real estate asset sale and tracking of potential indemnitees for past environmental involvement.
  • Admissions & Clerkships

    • Vermont, 2000

      New Hampshire, 2005

  • Reported Cases

      • In re Petition of VTel Wireless, Inc., 2015 VT 135 (2015) (successful defense to challenge of Section 248a certificate of public good for new tower in Bennington, Vermont)
      • Petition of New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC and Blue Sky Towers, LLC, Docket No. 8607, Order of 10/30/2015 (VT. Pub. Serv. Board)(recognizing significant public interest in mobile coverage along major highways in Vermont in finding “good cause” to not defer to municipal recommendation on tower project in Brattleboro)
      • In re Petition of New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC, 2012 VT 46, 192 Vt. 20, 54 A.3d 141 (2012) (successful defense to challenge of first Section 248a certificate of public good decision to be appealed to the Vermont Supreme Court for tower in Weston, Vermont)
      • Carter v. Town of Sandwich et al., No. 212-2011-CV-0058 (Carroll Sup. Ct., April 20, 2012) (affirming zoning board of adjustment decisions overturning wrongful denial by planning board of site plan approval for a stealth communications tower)
      • In re Rinkers, Inc. d/b/a Rinkers Communications, and Beverly and Wendell Shepard, Docket No. 302-12-08 Vtec, Decision and Order of May 17, 2010 (Vermont Environmental Court) (appeal of Act 250 permit for a 180’ lattice communications tower)
      • In re New Cingular Wireless, d/b/a AT&T Sousa Telecommunications Permit, Docket No. 162-7-08 Vtec, Corrected Decision on Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment of December 30, 2009 (Vermont Environmental Court) (appeal of conditional use approval and zoning permit for a silo-based communications facility)
      • In re Stormwater NPDES Petition, 2006 VT 91, 180 Vt. 261, 910 A.2d 824 (2006) (upholding decision of Agency of Natural Resources not to require federal permits for existing unregulated stormwater discharges and remanding for further proceedings).
  • Publications & Presentations

  • Memberships & Activities

      • Board of Directors & Public Affairs Committee, Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce
      • Environmental Lawyers Division, Vermont Bar Association
      • American Bar Association
      • New Hampshire Bar Association
      • PCIA – The Wireless Association
      • New England Wireless Association
      • Renewable Energy Vermont
  • Accolades

      • Chambers, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
      • Vermont Business Magazine Rising Star Award, 2010
  • Community Involvement

      • Odyssey of the Mind, Judge for Annual Competition

Project management prowess, accented by diplomatic finesse and innovative legal solutions for telecommunications, energy and land use.

Will Dodge’s leading edge practice in the deployment of wireless communications technology in Vermont and New Hampshire for national, regional, and local carriers, as well as infrastructure providers and public safety entities, has spanned the course of 15 years. In Vermont, Will’s defining achievement was working with clients and key stakeholders to establish and refine the current version of the statute known as Section 248a in order to streamline the environmental permitting process for wireless facilities submitted to the Vermont Public Service Board. With a world-class project management team, Will uses Section 248a to secure approvals on behalf of national, regional, and local carriers, public utilities, and tower companies for new and modified communications support structures throughout the state, including in areas with significant local opposition and unique zoning- and title-related challenges. Will has also lead his team in revolutionizing the approach to expedited antenna co-locations and modifications using Section 248a, cutting in half the average time and cost for completing the permitting process for these types of projects, and reducing the prevalence of permitting-based litigation.

In New Hampshire, by testifying before legislative committees and engaging with key stakeholders, Will’s efforts led to passage of SB101, a bill amending RSA 12:K to dramatically reduce the average processing time and expense associated with antenna co-location and modification permits at the municipal level. In addition, through careful and thoughtful engagement with municipal officials and regional planning professionals, Will has obtained for DRM’s clients approvals for new communications projects throughout the Upper Valley, Lakes Region, North Country, and Greater Keene areas.

Beyond wireless, Will works with energy and real estate clients on complex permitting matters such as right-of-way acquisition for linear utility projects (including eminent domain), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance, Act 250 land use permitting, Agency of Natural Resource and Department of Environmental Services approvals (including wastewater, stormwater, and wetlands), and Vermont Public Service Board petitions for certificates of public good. He also applies his thoroughness and detail orientation to real estate acquisition and lease / easement review, ensuring that his clients’ telecommunications, energy, and real estate development projects stand on vibration-free terrain.

Since January 1, 2015, Will has chaired DRM’s Regulated Entities Group, which includes the Environmental Law, Energy and Telecommunications, and Government and Public Affairs groups. In this role, he is responsible for the strategic direction of these groups in support of the firm’s overall objectives, as well as helping DRM attorneys and legal professionals in developing their individual practices.

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