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Partner - Joseph P. Williams

Joseph P. Williams


New Haven: (203) 836-2804
Hartford: (860) 251-5127
New Haven Office, Hartford Office
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Joe is co-chair of the Real Estate, Environmental, Land Use and Construction Practice Group. A skilled litigator and trial attorney, Joe draws on his more than 25 years of wide-ranging dispute resolution experience to help clients proactively identify and prevent issues that can otherwise derail or delay real estate and construction projects. He is known across the state of Connecticut and throughout New England as a fearless, fair-minded and effective advocate for his clients.

Joe regularly represents developers, investors and owners in a wide array of real estate-related proceedings, including land-use permitting and litigation, site-development applications, administrative appeals, adverse possessions, boundary and easement disputes, injunction actions, and eminent domain and affordable housing matters. He also advises clients on constitutional claims involving takings, religious freedom and fair housing, among other areas. Well-versed in environmental law, Joe has counseled numerous clients in clean-up and cost-recovery actions.

In addition to his corporate and individual clients, Joe also represents municipalities, boards of education, independent schools and state agencies. He understands the sometimes-conflicting priorities and objectives of government bodies and the businesses they regulate, and helps his clients and counterparties identify common ground and negotiate effective solutions. With an extensive network of business, industry and government contacts, Joe is able to connect the right people at the right time, at every step of the real-estate development process.

Where disputes are unavoidable or when litigation is the most effective strategy, Joe is an experienced and effective representative for his clients’ interests. He has appeared before numerous federal, state and local administrative agencies, and has successfully represented clients in trial and appellate courts at the state and federal levels. Deeply knowledgeable about the industry and the law, he is also frequently called upon to serve as an expert witness in third-party disputes.


  • AV Preeminent® Rated, Martindale-Hubbell
  • Chambers USA, America's Leading Lawyers: Environment (2007; 2012-2017)
  • Listed as a Connecticut Super Lawyer®: Land Use/Zoning (2006-2020)
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America®: Environmental Litigation (2009-2021); Land Use & Zoning Litigation, Real Estate Litigation (2013-2021)
  • Named "Lawyer of the Year" (2017): Best Lawyers Hartford Region Environmental Litigation
  • Hartford Business Journal, 40 Under Forty (2004)
  • Connecticut Law Tribune, New Leader of the Law (2002)

Professional Affiliations

  • American Bar Association: Section of Environment, Energy and Resources; Section of Litigation
  • Connecticut Bar Association: Executive Committee, Environmental Law Section; Executive Committee, Planning and Zoning Section
  • Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce: Board of Directors
  • CREW - The Real Estate Exchange
  • Connecticut Developers Council
  • Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Central Connecticut
  • National Association of College and University Attorneys

Community Involvement

  • Bushnell Park Foundation: Past President and Member of Board of Directors
  • Connecticut General Assembly Task Force on Climate Change and Shoreline Preservation: Member
  • Glastonbury Education Foundation: Past Chairman and Member of Board of Directors
  • Glastonbury Hartwell Soccer Club & Glastonbury Lacrosse Club, Former Coach
  • Hartford Area Habitat for Humanity: Past Build-a-Thon Team Leader, several committees
  • Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Central Connecticut Charitable Foundation: Served on Board of Directors and as Chair of Grants Committee
  • iQuilt Plan, Board of Corporators: Member
  • Leadership Greater Hartford Participant (Quest, 2002)
  • United Way of the Capital Area, Shipman & Goodwin Annual Appeal: Past Campaign Chair

Prevailed for Developer in Injunction Action Seeking to Enforce Unsigned Property Sale Contract

Represented the Cappelli Organization, a successful commercial real estate developer based in White Plains, NY which had built a shopping center in Milford, CT.  Cappelli was negotiating a lease for one of the pad sites with an affiliate of ConnectiCare, Inc., which wanted to build out a walk-in retail insurance center.  The negotiations broke down and Cappelli declined to sign the lease.  ConnectiCare sued the Cappelli affiliate in New Britain Superior Court seeking specific performance of the unsigned lease on the grounds that it had spent money on preparations during the negotiations and the Cappelli site was the only property that met its site criteria.  Along with its complaint, ConnectiCare filed a motion for temporary injunction seeking to force Cappelli to deliver immediate possession of the space to ConnectiCare, which would have caused Cappelli to breach its lease with another tenant.  The temporary injunction hearing went forward before Judge Shortall in July 2016.  Once ConnectiCare rested its case, Attorney Williams moved to dismiss ConnectiCare’s injunction claim.  Judge Shortall orally denied the temporary injunction motion, finding that ConnectiCare had acted unfairly, did not rely on Cappelli in deciding to do the work, was not likely to succeed on the merits, had not shown irreparable harm, and that the balancing of the equities favored Cappelli.  Soon after, ConnectiCare withdrew its lawsuit.  The case was Care Management Solutions, Inc. v. CG Milford, LLC, Docket No. HHB-CV16-6033469-S.

Obtained Land Use Approvals for Several Gas Station/Convenience Stores

Obtained a variety of local land use and state environmental approvals for a national gasoline/convenience store company for locations in numerous Connecticut towns including Ashford, Branford, Coventry, Danbury, East Granby, Farmington, Glastonbury, Granby, Mansfield, Meriden, Monroe, North Haven, Norwich, Rocky Hill, Torrington, Vernon, Willimantic and Wolcott. Conducted careful pre-application review and worked closely with towns to avoid or address all siting concerns and foster a cooperative relationship to avoid unnecessary surprises or delays. We recently defended two zoning appeals brought in the Superior Court against our client, challenging approvals given by the City of Norwich, Connecticut, for the construction of a new convenience store/gas station facility. We had obtained the underlying zoning amendments and special permit approval from the city despite a competitor’s opposition. In 2019 the court ruled in favor of Cumberland Farms in both appeals. 


Zoning Approval for 114 Market and Affordable Apartments
Represented Toll Brothers, Inc. in Acquisition of Property for Large Mixed Use Developments in Stamford and Norwalk
Environmental Litigation
Obtained Reimbursements on Claims for Environmental Cost Recovery
Defense of Federal Suit for Alleged Residual Petroleum from USTs
Defense of Claims of Environmental Contamination Related to Sale of Real Property
Pursuing Claims for Reimbursement from Underground Storage Tank Fund
Defended Federal Lawsuit Involving Third-Party Claims Under CERCLA
Resolved Cost Recovery Claim for Environmental Remediation
Defense of CERCLA Actions Over PCBs from Transformers in North Carolina
Successful Suit for Property Remediation Under CT Environmental Protection Act
Successfully Defended Neighbors' Lawsuits Over a New Ash Landfill
Successfully Defended Noise Nuisance Allegations against Waste-to-Energy Facility
Defended and Resolved Cost Recovery Claim in Massachusetts for Oil Company
Defended CERCLA Action Regarding Former Ball Bearing Factory
Defended Lawsuit for Costs of Remediating MTBE Plume in Area Groundwater
Defense of Allegations of Underground Contamination - Case Withdrawn
Won Temporary Injunction Against Illegal Solid Waste Landfill
Defended CERCLA Action by a Competitor at a Superfund Site
Defended Environmental Consulting Firm against Professional Malpractice Allegations
Defeated Negligence Claim against Environmental Consulting Firm over Lead Paint in Auctioned Property
Defended Environmental Legal Malpractice Action
Defended Architectural Firm against Professional Malpractice Allegations
Land Use Approvals and Litigation
Obtained Land Use Approvals for Several Gas Station/Convenience Stores
Obtained Zoning and Wetlands Approvals for Large Multi-Family and Subdivision Developments
Prevailed on Appeal from Denial of Special Permit for Gravel Bank
Acquisition and Land Use Approvals for Federally Qualified Health Center
Zone Change Approval for 160 Cromwell Apartments
Zoning Approval for New STEM Building for University of New Haven
Site Plan and Wetlands Approvals for 124-unit Elderly Housing Development in New Haven
Approvals for 45-lot Open Space Subdivision in South Windsor
Land Use Approvals for University of New Haven
Successfully Defended Contested Wetlands and Zoning Approvals for Independent School Athletic Fields
Land Use Approvals for Dairy Processing Plant
Successful Appeal of ZBA Decision Granting A Variance Based on Practical Confiscation
Favorable Settlement of RLUIPA/Zoning Appeal
Prevailed in Zoning Appeal for Private School
Favorable Settlement of RLUIPA/Zoning Appeal
Defense of Inland Wetlands Appeal
Defense of Demolition Code Appeal and Negligence Lawsuits Related to Urban Fire
Successful Defense of Zoning Appeal for Private School
Prevailed in Zoning Appeal for 214 Townhouses Under Section 8-30g
Obtained and Successfully Defended Zoning Approvals for New Public School
Defeated Conflict of Interest Claim Brought Against Inland Wetlands Commissioner
Obtained State Environmental Approvals for National Home Builder
Gained Dismissal of Zoning Appeal for Lack of Aggrievement
Won Temporary Injunction Prohibiting Truck Ban Ordinance for Egg Distributor
Successful Wetlands and Zoning Appeals for Apartment Development Under Section 8-30g
Won Zoning Approvals for New Bulky Waste Landfill and Transfer Station
Wetlands and Zoning Appeals Resulting in Approvals to Build Apartments
Successful Affordable Housing and Inland Wetlands Appeals for 129 Townhouses
Successfully Defended Civil Rights Suit Over City's Use of Eminent Domain
Won Injunction Preventing Revocation of a Zoning Permit
Managed Complex Process for New Downtown and Cancer Center Zoning Regulations in New Haven, Connecticut
Special Permit for Hospital Parking Garage
Real Estate Litigation
Prevailed for Developer in Injunction Action Seeking to Enforce Unsigned Property Sale Contract
Acquisition of Properties by Eminent Domain
Defended and Resolved RLUIPA Lawsuit over Denial of Zoning Permit for Mosque
Favorable Adverse Possession Settlement
Prevailed in Injunction Action to Prevent Eminent Domain
Successful Injunction Action to Enforce Restrictive Covenant
Successful Adverse Possession Lawsuit
Defense of Violations of Fair Housing Act and 42 U.S.C. § 1983

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  • Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., 1994, cum laude
  • The American University, B.A., 1991,
    magna cum laude

Bar Admissions

  • Connecticut

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, District of CT
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of NY
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