Our local communities are special, with an emphasis on preservation and sophisticated stewardship of land, providing excellent services to citizens, and maintaining or lowering property taxes.
As an avid section-hiker of the Appalachian Trail, I am reminded almost every weekend of the importance of preservation and that great things can stem from big ideas. Hiking locally in the Sourlands or along the Highlands Trail above the Musconetcong Gorge is no less inspriring, and shows how our local communities have been able to utilize open space/green acres and other programs to preserve our lands and our futures. Conservative preservation and fiscal conservatism are hallmarks of Central New Jersey municipalities and our governing officials have assisted in maintaining the high quality of life in Hunterdon County and Somerset County. I am honored to get to play a small role in such matters by providing legal counsel to local government entities. Living and raising my family in Hunterdon County–including my two young daughters–the continued success of our local communities is personally important to me. My wife Kristen is a supervisor of special education at Bridgewater-Raritan High School and we have both lived and worked in neighboring Somerset County. My practice is focused on work within these two counties.
Local Government law is becoming increasingly complex and the sanctions associated with non-compliance–such as the fee-shifting found in the Open Public Records Act–are becoming increasingly burdensome. Local government attorneys must have a deep breadth of knowledge in both transactional and litigation. Some of the types of issues a skilled municipal attorney may have to provide guidance on include the:
- Open Public Meetings Act;
- Local Public Contracts Law;
- Labor, Employment, and employee disciplinary matters;
- Condemnation/Eminent Domain and other Real Estate Transactions;
- Open Space/Green Acres, Blue Acres, and Farmland Preservation;
- Municipal Land Use Law;
- Redevelopment and Housing Law;
- Shared Services Agreement;
- Title 59 Defense;
- Drafting of Ordinances and Resolutions;
- and more.
A skilled local government lawyer will be able to provide concise advice and take appropriate steps at the direction of the governing body to limit exposure, insure compliance, effectively litigate when necessary, and to negotiate in transactional and litigation matters. Personality is also important in this position, as the attorney will need to interface with many individuals in the position.
I am an experienced government entity lawyer who treats each municipal client with an eye towards their particular legal concerns. I have extensive experience in general negligence and casualty litigation, Open Public Records Act and Open Public Meetings Act laws, and I also have experience defending municipalities in employment litigation, negligence actions, and real property litigation. I am committed to providing each municipal client with the attention and quality that it deserves. I take the role of trusted advisor for hardworking elected or appointed officials seriously and constantly endeavor to provide great value for the cost to taxpayers.
Before opening my solo practice in my hometown of Flemington, I served as Deputy County Counsel for Somerset County from 2014-2017 and was a partner at Cooper, Cottell & Taylor, LLC. In that role I assisted the County of Somerset in employment law and litigation matters involving a workforce of more than 1,500 employees. Some of the types of matters I handled included complex litigation involving enforcement of a Farmland Preservation easement, OPRA matters and local government law matters where the County of Somerset was victorious at both the trial court and the appellate level, successful representation in various other litigation matters including Title 59 Defense and Declaratory Judgments/Prerogative Writs, successful OPRA representation in the trial court level involving requests from the Philadelphia Inquirer, helping to implement a new Americans with Disabilities Act compliance policy for the County, training staff on employment law including workplace harassment and discrimination, covering Freeholder meetings, and assisting with open space matters. During that period of time I was also counsel to the Somerset County Agriculture Development Board and the Somerset County Board of Construction Appeals. I also I have been published in both the New Jersey Law Journal and the Quill (New Jersey Clerk’s Association Newsletter) on the subject of the open public records act.
I also serve as a municipal prosecutor for various municipalities including Flemington Borough, Kingwood Township, and Milford Borough. I am the former municipal prosecutor of South Bound Brook.
Those that seek and are elected to local office take on large responsibilities. I can assist you in maintaining order, reducing exposure, and maintaining reasonable counsel fees. I am accessible to my clients day or night and will work hard to be your trusted adviser and to lead you and your community in the direction you seek.