Courthouse Plaza
199 Main Street
Burlington, VT 05402-0190
ph: 802-863-2375
dir: 802-846-8395
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 Utility Commission. 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 portions of southern New Hampshire.

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 proceedings); energy generation and transmission infrastructure siting for solar facilities, natural gas pipelines, and electric transmission lines; National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance, Act 250 land use permitting; and Agency of Natural Resource and Department of Environmental Services approvals (including wastewater, stormwater, and wetlands).

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.  Will is committed to active use of legal project management (“LPM”) software and capabilities for controlling legal fees and disbursements, in order to better ensure realization of projects for clients on time and on budget. LPM allows for capturing of data in order to fine-tune costs on typical applications once the permitting strategy is developed, provide early warnings where unforeseen circumstances (e.g., substantial opposition) may jeopardize the capital budget, and identify areas where improvements can be met.

Experience
  • Successfully resolved Public Records Act litigation in Superior Court to determine that sensitive carrier business information submitted to Vermont Department of Public Service with annual reports fell within “tax returns” exception, resulting in injunctive relief preventing disclosure. 
  • Developed and furnished post-decision evidence of lack of availability of alternative sites in Bedford, NH in order to prevail in “effective prohibition” claim in federal district court, resulting in special exception being issued by Zoning Board of Adjustment.
  • Oversaw and secured the approval of over 120 separate collocation / modification projects in Vermont for multiple carriers and infrastructure providers over a two-year period.
  • Negotiated with Agency of Natural Resources for preparation and consummation of conservation easement transaction involving land adjacent to wind turbine facility in order to satisfy critical post-CPG condition and to secure necessary prerequisites for sale of facility.
  • Completed critical real estate due diligence on multiple 10MW> planned and existing solar facilities in Vermont and New Hampshire in connection with asset purchase by major renewable energy provider.
  • Advocated through quasi-rulemaking with the Vermont Public Utility Commission to ultimately result in the repeal of the “successive de minimis” rule under Section 248a of Title 30, easing pathways towards modifications on sites throughout Vermont for carriers and infrastructure providers.
  • Resolved title issues on multiple net-metering (>500kW) project asset sale from significant renewable energy portfolio owner in order to consummate multi-million dollar transaction to renewable energy trust developed by one of the largest U.S. investment bankers.
  • Developed and presented critical evidence regarding absence of options and lack of land use impacts to successfully prevent “prior public use” doctrine of eminent domain from barring installation of natural gas pipeline through publicly-owned land.
  • Negotiated, drafted, and shepherded through multi-agency review process first-of-its-kind collocation license agreement for upgraded state-owned wireless communications facility in high-volume traffic area of Vermont.
  • Prevailed in litigation concerning application of grandfathered net-metering regulations in case involving late notice to adjoining landowners, establishing critical precedent for Vermont administrative law.
Education

University of Texas School of Law, J.D., 1999 Symposium Editor, Texas International Law Journal

Trent University, B.A. History, cum laude, 1995

School for International Training, International Experiment in Living Programs in Spain, 1994; Chile, 1993

College Dawson, Diplome des Etudes Collegiales, cum laude, 1991

Admissions & Clerkships

Vermont, 2000

New Hampshire, 2005

U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire, 2017

Memberships & Activities
  • New England Wireless Association, Board of Directors (elected 2017). Will has organized educational committee event regarding FirstNet deployment and small cell issues in New England, and played role throughout the year with combination of professional and social events.
  • Northeast Energy and Commerce Association (NECA), Environmental Committee. Will has helped to coordinate conference regarding major developments for environmental law in the northeast affect the energy industry, including energy storage, public engagement and stormwater.
  • Wireless Infrastructure Association – Member
  • Telecommunications Energy & Utilities Law Section, New Hampshire Bar Association
  • New Hampshire Sustainable Energy Association -- Member
  • Renewable Energy Vermont – Member
  • New Hampshire Business & Industry Association – Member
  • Environmental Lawyers Division, Vermont Bar Association
Accolades & Awards
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America © 2018-2019
  • Chambers, 2012-2018
  • Vermont Business Magazine Rising Star Award, 2010
Community Involvement
  • Town of Essex, VT Energy Committee – Member (appointed 2017). In his role, Will has  secured the highest participation in recent “Button Up” events with Efficiency Vermont through combination of door-to-door contacts, elections table, and in-person testimonial events; also played key role in drafting components of enhanced energy plan for the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, organizing commercial renewable energy info session, and advocating for net-metering agreement with private solar developer to benefit Town / Village.
  • Odyssey of the Mind, Judge for Annual Student Academic Competition
Languages
  • Spanish
  • French
Publications & Presentations

Publication

Presentation

Reported Cases
  • In re Vermont Gas Systems, Inc., 2017 VT 83
  • Petition of Vermont Gas Systems, Inc. for Authority to Condemn Easement Rights, Docket No. 8643, Order of 9/13/2016 (VT. Pub. Serv. Board) (condemning easement through Geprags Park in Hinesburg despite prior public use defense)
  • In re Petition of Vermont Gas Systems, Inc., 2016 VT 132 (lifting automatic stay of eminent domain petition on grounds of public necessity for gas pipeline)
  • 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).
Courthouse Plaza
199 Main Street
Burlington, VT 05402-0190
ph: 802-863-2375
dir: 802-846-8395
cell: 802-324-2114
wdodge@drm.com
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