199 Main Street
Burlington, VT 05402-0190
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.
In coordination with multiple external site development teams, Will has successfully undertaken a number of key projects for a variety of telecommunications infrastructure clients:
- 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.
- 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.
- Secured from the Vermont Public Utility Commission eminent domain order to allow for high density drilling easement in Geprags Park, as well as lifting of automatic stay at the Vermont Supreme Court.
- Provided real estate due diligence on multi-site real estate acquisitions of solar facilities in Vermont and New Hampshire, and provided guidance on securing easements and permits necessary for interconnection.
- Coordinated with Vermont Agency of Natural Resources for acquisition and title clearing of conservation parcels in Colchester and Bristol, VT as mitigation for natural gas pipeline extension.
- 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.
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
New Hampshire, 2005
U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire, 2017
- Board of Directors – New England Wireless Association (elected 2017)
- 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
- Listed in Best Lawyers in America © 2018-2019
- Chambers, 2012-2018
- Vermont Business Magazine Rising Star Award, 2010
- Town of Essex, VT Energy Committee – Member (appointed 2017)
- Odyssey of the Mind, Judge for Annual Student Academic Competition
- Speaker, State of Solar: Solar Law 101, Vermont Development Conference (Burlington, VT, November 14, 2017)
- Speaker, A Mule Hitched to the Times: Evolution of Aesthetics for Energy Projects, Renewable Energy Vermont Conference (Burlington, October 2, 2017)
- Speaker, Steal My Sunshine: Concerns For Net Metering Applications Under the Board's New Rule 5.100, Vermont Bar Association CLE (Montpelier, VT, June 13, 2017)
- Challenging Development Projects: Public Engagement for Private Negotiations, Associated Industries of Vermont (Montpelier, VT, August 22, 2017)
- Speaker, How We Got to Here: A Brief History of Stormwater NPDES Litigation Through 2006, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Clean Water Act Seminar (Montpelier Statehouse, June 26, 2015)
- Speaker, Site Acquisition in the Real World – Small Cells: Radios, Chipsets, Backhaul, Deployments, PCIA – The Wireless Infrastructure Association Conference (Fort Lauderdale, FL, Oct. 8, 2013)
- 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).
199 Main Street
Burlington, VT 05402-0190ph: 802-863-2375