Hartford, CT – Dwight Merriam is among the select group of leading lawyers featured in the first annual of the New England Trailblazers publication, a Connecticut Law Tribune special supplement. He takes pride of place among a small group of nonpareil lawyers who have blazed trails in the profession.
Dwight Merriam, a major figure in American planning law, with over four decades of legal practice in land-use matters, served as a Director of the American Planning Association and President of the American Institute of Certified Planners and chaired the American Bar Association’s national Section of State and Local Government Law. A Fellow of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, he is also the Connecticut Member of Owners’ Counsel of America. He is one of just a handful of nationally-recognized true planner-lawyers, fully credentialed in both professions.
His desire to advocate for individual rights drew him away from pursuing a career in planning to one in the law during his formative years. As someone who never dreamt of becoming a lawyer, Merriam can now look back on a body of work over four decades that includes 13 books and 200+ articles covering a broad landscape of issues including group homes, affordable housing, zoning, property rights, and eminent domain.
He co-authors the leading casebook in his field, Planning, and Control of Land Development, and co-edits the leading treatise in his field, “Rathkopf’s The Law of Zoning and Planning, 4th.” He has also taught land use law at several universities, including the University of Memphis, the University of Bridgeport, Vermont Law School, the University of Connecticut School of Law, and the Quinnipiac University School of Law. Outside of the practice of law, Dwight H. Merriam has had a distinguished 31-year career as a naval surface warfare officer. He served three tours in Vietnam during his initial seven years of active duty. After 24 more years in the reserves, he retired as a Captain following his command of the reserve unit of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, Rhode Island.
He is well-known for his advocacy on behalf of people lacking the resources to defend their land-use rights. His New England Trailblazers feature quotes him saying, “The main thing that planners should be doing is giving voice to people who have no voice.”
Dwight Merriam graduated with a B.A. (cum laude) in Sociology and Urban Planning from the University of Massachusetts in 1968. He was awarded his M.R.P (Masters of Regional Planning) from the University of North Carolina in 1974, and his J.D. from Yale Law School 1978.