Dwight Merriam

Attorney At Law

Contact Details

Attorney At Law


Dwight H. Merriam, of Simsbury, Connecticut, has practiced law for four decades.  He represents land owners, developers, governments, and individuals in land use matters.  Dwight is a Fellow and Past President and of the American Institute of Certified Planners, a former Director of the American Planning Association, a former chair of APA’s Planning and Law Division, a former chair of the American Bar Association’s national Section of State and Local Government Law; the Connecticut member of Owners’ Counsel of America, a former Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, a member of the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute National Advisory Board, a Fellow of the Connecticut Bar Foundation, a Counselor of Real Estate, a member of the Association of Real Property and Infrastructure, and a Fellow of the American College of Real  Estate Lawyers. 


He has taught land use law at 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 and has published over 200 articles and thirteen books including Inclusionary Zoning Moves Downtown, The Takings Issue, The Complete Guide to Zoning, Eminent Domain Use and Abuse: Kelo in Context, and Group Homes. He is a co-author of a casebook in his field, Planning and Control of Land Development, and co-editor of the treatise, Rathkopf’s The Law of Zoning and Planning and 4th. 


Dwight has been named to the Connecticut Super Lawyers list in the area of Land Use Law since 2006, named as one to the Top 10 Connecticut Super Lawyers in 2016 and 2017 (ranked number 2 in the state); was one of the Top 50 Connecticut Super Lawyers in Connecticut 2014; one of the Top 100 New England Super Lawyers in 2014 and 2016 (Super Lawyers is a registered trademark of Key Professional Media, Inc.), ranked in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business in Connecticut in the area of Real Estate, listed in The Best Lawyers in America® in the areas of Land Use & Zoning Law and Real Estate Law since 1991 and the areas of Litigation - Land Use & Zoning and Litigation - Real Estate for 2012, and in 2017 in four areas:  Land Use and Zoning Law, Litigation - Land Use and Zoning, Litigation - Real Estate, and Real Estate Law.  He was also listed in The Best Lawyers in America® as Hartford Lawyer of the Year in the area of Litigation - Land Use & Zoning for 2013 and in the area of Land Use & Zoning Law for 2012. 


He received his B.A (cum laude) from the University of Massachusetts, his Masters of Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina, where he was invited back as the graduation speaker in 2011, and his J.D. from Yale. He is a featured speaker at many land use seminars, and presents monthly audio land use seminars for the International Municipal Lawyers Association.  Dwight has been cited in the national press from The New York Times to People magazine and HGTV magazine and has appeared on NBC’s The Today Show, MSNBC and public television.


Dwight served for seven years on active duty in the Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer, including three tours in Vietnam, and 24 more years in the reserves, retiring as a Captain following his command of the reserve augmentation unit of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center.


Military Biography:


Captain Dwight H. Merriam, U.S. Navy, Surface Warfare (retired), entered Naval Service in July 1968 and graduated from Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island in March 1969.  He then attended communication school and the non-lawyer judge advocate general course, ultimately reporting to his ship, the USS KAWISHIWI (AO-146), a fleet replenishment oiler, in Vietnam in September 1969.  He completed that tour with the ship and participated in two other deployments to Vietnam aboard KAWISHIWI totaling 17 months in the war zone.  He served as the ship’s communications officer and assistant operations officer, and also was an officer of the deck, command duty officer, officer the deck for replenishment operations, and general quarters officer of the deck.  In 1971 he augmented to the regular Navy from the reserves.  


In 1972 Captain Merriam was ordered to the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Unit at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he served as the Senior Advisor and Instructor, and later Assistant Professor of Naval Science, teaching a graduate and undergraduate course in Defense Administration and Military Management for civilian and military students in the University’s interdisciplinary Peace, War, and Defense Curriculum. 


In 1975 after seven years of active duty Captain Merriam resigned his regular commission and left active duty to pursue his law degree at Yale.  He began his 24-year career in the reserves serving in various units and billets, among them training units and shipboard units including USS FULTON (AS-11) stationed at the State Pier in New London, where he served as operations Officer and then Executive Officer.  As a Commander he was selected to be the Commanding Officer of Personnel Mobilization Team 101 based in Providence, Rhode Island, responsible for the mobilization of approximately 80,000 Navy reservists and retirees from New England. 

Captain Merriam was then assigned to Naval Ship Research Center 101, which is the reserve augmentation unit for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, headquartered in Newport, Rhode Island, with a laboratory in New London, Connecticut and facilities in Keyport, Washington, and Andros Island in the Bahamas.  He served as Executive Officer.  Following his promotion to Captain, he was selected to be the Commanding Officer.  In that capacity he oversaw the research and development of undersea warfare and weapons and maintained the unit's preparedness to augment their active-duty counterparts in the event of a mobilization.  He served in that capacity through the Gulf War. 


Following his Naval Undersea Warfare Center command, Captain Merriam served in various capacities assisting NUWC in special projects until his retirement in 1999 after 31 years of service.


Captain Merriam is a qualified Surface Warfare Officer and was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal for his Vietnam service, the Navy “E” Ribbon for battle efficiency aboard FULTON, the National Defense Service Medal with a bronze service star for two periods of service, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for operations off North Korea, the Vietnam Service Medal with three bronze service stars for his multiple deployments to Vietnam, the Navy Reserve Sea Service Ribbon, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with 1960’s device. 


Captain Merriam of Simsbury and Hartford has four children: Judge Sarah A. L. Merriam, U.S.M.J., Jonathan H. Merriam, Alexander H. Merriam, and Lucy C. Newman.


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