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Associate - Beth Bryan Critton

Beth Bryan Critton

Associate

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Beth Bryan Critton practices land use, environmental and municipal law, representing developers (including both for-profit and not-for-profit developers of supportive and workforce housing), municipalities, property owners, condominium associations and neighbors of proposed developments.

As counsel to developers, Beth assembles teams of engineers, planners, architects, wetland scientists, geologists, blasting experts and other professionals in preparing applications for responsibly planned development to various private and municipal commissions. She prepares and handles administrative appeals of commission decisions, appellate litigation of land use appeals, and negotiation of settlements of land use disputes.

As counsel to municipalities, she provides counseling regarding legal procedures and standards as well as issues pertaining to land use applications. Beth defends commission decisions and assists with the drafting and enforcement of land use regulations, including injunction actions to stop zoning and wetlands violations.

As counsel to condominium associations and other neighbors concerned about proposed development near their homes, she provides legal representation during local agency hearings and prepares and pursues appeals to protect the rights of her clients.

Beth has been involved in the legal research, writing, and development of legal strategy in some of Connecticut's most significant zoning and wetlands decisions.  She recently briefed issues relating to variances and practical confiscation in Caruso v. Zoning Board of Appeals.

Beth has experience in the defense and negotiation of municipal tax appeals and in the representation of non-profit organizations and property owners challenging the valuation and taxability of their property.  Tax experience at the Appellate level has included Konover v. West Hartford and Sakon v. Glastonbury.

Prior to joining the firm, Beth served as Assistant Corporation Counsel for the Town of West Hartford from 1986-1998, was a police officer in the Town of Wethersfield and was a recreation program director for the American Red Cross in Korea and Vietnam.

As an avid hiker and hike leader, Beth has a particular interest in legal issues relating to recreational liability.

Distinctions

  • Named "Appie of the Year" by Connecticut Chapter, Appalachian Mountain Club, 2014
  • Named Outstanding Advocate for Outdoor Recreation by Connecticut Forest and Parks Association, November, 2011

Professional Affiliations

  • Connecticut Bar Association: Planning and Zoning Section: Treasurer and Executive Committee; Environmental Law Section, Executive Committee
  • Connecticut Society of Women Environmental Professionals: Board of Directors, 2013-present
  • American Bar Association: Affordable Housing Section; Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law Section
  • Connecticut State Judicial Department: Victim Compensation Commissioner, 1997-2008
  • Connecticut Association of Assessing Officers
  • Connecticut Association of Municipal Attorneys
  • Environmental Professionals' Organization of Connecticut
  • International Municipal Lawyers Association

Community Involvement

  • Appalachian Trail Conservancy: Board of Directors/Chair of Stewardship Council, 2013-present; Board Executive Committee, 2015-present; Strategic Directions Committee, 2013-2014
  • Appointed to National Appalachian Trail Conservancy Stewardship Council in 2011; Chair of Council's Community Outreach Committee
  • Appalachian Mountain Club, Connecticut Chapter: Past Chair and Past Membership Chair, Trail Committee Volunteer
  • Co-Captain, UConn Law School Reunion
  • New England Wildflower Society: Plant Conservation Volunteer

Tax Appeal on Behalf of School Districts

Victory in Superior Court on behalf of the Easton, Redding and Region 9 Boards of Education. The Town of Bethel had claimed that 45 school buses used to transport students in Easton, Redding and Region 9 were owned by a private bus company and/or a financing company, and that the buses were regularly garaged in Bethel, thereby enabling the Town of Bethel to impose personal property taxes with respect to the buses. Court ruled that the buses were in fact owned by the school districts, and as such, were exempt from personal property taxation under Section 12-18(4) of the Connecticut General Statutes, which exempts municipal property used for a public purpose.

Zoning Appeal Regarding Variances and Practical Confiscation

Represented the City of Meriden, its city planner and zoning enforcement officer in their successful challenge to the approval by the Meriden Zoning Board of Appeals of a use variance for a large used car dealership. The applicant had convinced the Board that the City’s zoning regulations resulted in a “practical confiscation” of its 48-acre property by eliminating any demand for the property. The trial court agreed. The Appellate Court reversed the judgment of the trial court, finding that the developer had failed to prove practical confiscation. The Connecticut Supreme Court affirmed the Appellate Court decision, holding that the applicant failed to prove that the property could not reasonably be used in the zoning district and failed to prove that the property’s value had diminished after it was purchased for over one million dollars, thus requiring the defeat of its practical confiscation claim. 

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Practice Areas

Education

  • University of Connecticut School of Law, J.D., cum laude
  • Pennsylvania State University, B.A.,
    summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa

Bar Admissions

  • Connecticut

Court Admissions

  • U.S. District Court, District of CT
  • U.S. Supreme Court
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