Legal Issues and Flood Resilience

“Drowning in Liability: Reducing climate change impacts through municipal planning and zoning”

This module aims to help viewers recognize the planning and zoning interests related to flooding, describe actions they can take to reduce liability related to planning and zoning decisions, and identify key resources for further information. The module illustrates the causes of flooding and what has and can been done to protect Connecticut residents, property, and natural resources from its devastating impacts. The module also discusses “takings” and identifies multiple court cases to enhance understanding.


Municipal Planning and Zoning Boards are on the frontline of decision-making.  Given changing conditions posed by changing climate, good planning and regulatory practices will become even more critical as communities plan and prepare for the future. The module encourages boards and commissions to be proactive and based on good legal practice, provides local examples of what can be done to protect our residents, property, and natural resources and support community resilience. Exploring legal concepts, such as “takings,” with a resilience lens provides the viewer with a broader context and best practices to consider in planning, policy development, and decision-making.

This module was developed in partnership with RI Sea Grant, Narragansett Bay Estuarine Research Reserve, and CT Sea Grant's and UConn CLEAR’s ADAPT CT program, with funds from USDA NIFA.


By the end of the module, you will be able to:

  • Recognize planning and zoning interests related to flooding at the local level
  • Describe actions you can take in your role as a thoughtful rule - and decision-maker to reduce liability related to planning and zoning decisions 
  • Identify resources to consult for further information 


Was this video helpful? Please send an email to Juliana Barrett at with any comments or concerns to better guide us in providing informative training solutions.

    Video Time: 18 minutes, 39 seconds   Audio: required

    "Drowning in Liability" webinar and Panel Discussion Oct 2021


    Image Sources and Citations  | Module Presentation as PDF

    Presenter Bios

    Juliana Barrett Ph.D. Extension Educator / Connecticut Sea Grant College Program

    Juliana Barrett is an Extension Educator and Coastal Habitat Specialist with the University of Connecticut Sea Grant College Program and the Department of Extension. Her work focuses on climate change adaptation and resilience and coastal habitat management and restoration partnering with Connecticut’s municipalities, NGO’s and state and federal partners. She teaches an undergraduate course on climate adaptation and co-directs an independent study with students called the Climate Corps.

    Dr. Barrett received a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Smith College in 1982. She also holds a master’s degree in Earth and Planetary Sciences from The Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Prior to joining Sea Grant in 2006 she worked as a private consultant and for The Nature Conservancy as the Geoffrey C. Hughes Connecticut River Tidelands Program Director. Dr. Barrett is a co-author of the Vegetation of Connecticut and numerous other publications.


    Bruce Hyde: Land Use Educator / Land Use Academy Director / Climate Corps Co-Director

    Bruce Hyde is a Land Use Educator with the University of Connecticut and responsible for coordinating the CLEAR Land Use Academy which provides training for local land use commissioners. Through the Climate Adaptation Academy, in partnership with CT Sea Grant, he coordinates training, workshops and educational outreach to assist communities with the challenges of climate change adaptation.

    He co-founded the UConn Climate Corps, an undergraduate classroom and service-learning opportunity that consists of a 3-credit course (Fall semester) on the local impacts of climate change, followed by a 3-credit independent study (Spring semester) during which students work with Extension faculty to assist Connecticut communities in adapting to climate change.

    He received a BS in Economics from Lehigh University and a MS in the Economics of Natural Resource Planning from the University of Vermont. Mr. Hyde is an AICP certified planner with over 30 years’ experience in municipal planning and economic development in Vermont and Connecticut.


    Andrew M. Teitz, ESQ., AICP

    Andy Teitz is a partner in the law firm of Ursillo, Teitz & Ritch, Ltd.  He is also certified as a Professional Planner by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). Andy has been legal counsel to the Historic District Commissions in Bristol, South Kingstown, and East Greenwich for several years.  He has also represented private clients, before other historic district commissions throughout the State.  Andy has long provided training to local historic district commissions and other municipal land use boards on a pro bono basis, and is a regular speaker at RI Historic Preservation Conferences.

    Andy was instrumental in drafting new state enabling legislation on zoning and land development and has drafted dozens of municipal land use ordinances.  He has also been appointed as a Special Master by the Rhode Island Superior Court.  His firm currently represents six municipalities in Rhode Island as Town or City Solicitor.

    Andy represents a wide range of private clients including real estate developers, Fortune 100 corporations, universities, schools, churches, family-owned businesses, and individuals.  He practices before town councils, zoning and planning boards, historic commissions, coastal zone agencies, and the like, throughout southern New England.  He litigates cases in all Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and federal courts, and is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States.

    Andy is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut, and received his J.D. from Columbia Law School in New York, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone scholar.