Ira Bloom is new town counsel for Wilton

After months of interviews and deliberations by the Legal Search Committee, the Board of Selectmen in a special meeting Dec. 6 selected attorney Ira Bloom, of the firm of Berchem, Moses & Devlin, as the new town counsel. The firm has offices in Milford, Westport and Norwalk and represents several nearby towns.

The vote was 3-1, with Selectman Dick Dubow dissenting, saying there were better choices.

“In my mind clearly there were better choice available,” Dubow told the selectmen, saying it was their job to find the best individual, the best firm, with the quality, depth of service and overall value to the taxpayers of Wilton. Second Selectman Michael Kaelin was absent, saying he could not participate because he knows all of the attorneys involved.

Bloom is a senior partner in the firm, with an office in Westport. He has practiced in the land use and municipal areas for many years. He has been town attorney for Westport since 1998, New Canaan since 2012, and has served as counsel to Easton and Madison for several years. He has also represented other municipalities, along with numerous applicants and neighborhood associations throughout the state.

Bloom said by telephone after the vote he will immediately look into what cases the town wants him to cover, and provide the best legal services possible. He was not certain if the sexual assault lawsuits will come under his wing. “I’ve read about that in the newspapers, but I don’t know what cases I’ll be handling,” he said.

Speaking about the impact his appointment will have on New Canaan, Bloom told The Bulletin’s sister paper The New Canaan Advertiser, “I have had a team approach for years. I need to.”

In his work for New Canaan, Bloom handles land use issues, and his partner Doug LoMonte handles contract issues and partner Mario Copolla works closely with the town tax assessor. Also, Bloom’s partner Peter Gelderman works on a variety of issues that arise.

Bloom said he has had some luck in recent years as towns tend to meet on different nights of the week. “Fortuitous,” he said.

First Selectman Rob Mallozzi III told The Advertiser, “We have experienced exceptional customer service from Ira and his firm that represents 10 towns. … Ira has an incredibly good team” to handle issues including tax appeals, land use, union negotiating, and contract reviews.

“It is a team approach, and Ira is the quarterback,” Mallozzi said.

He said he considers Wilton’s hiring of Bloom to be a positive endorsement of New Canaan’s decision to hire Bloom and his firm.

Bloom is a member and former president of the Connecticut Bar Association Planning and Zoning Executive Committee. He is also a former member of the Connecticut Association of Municipal Attorneys, a member of the Connecticut chapter of the American Planners Association, and a James W. Cooper Fellow of the Connecticut Bar Foundation. He is a member of the Connecticut Bar Association House of Delegates.
Outgoing counsel
The outgoing town attorney is Ken Bernhard of Cohen and Wolf. The appointment came up for renewal at the end of 2015 and the selectmen wanted to look into it on a competitive level. Bloom will complete a two-year term that ends next fall and then the two-year appointment will be up for renewal.

After the vote, Selectman David Clune, who chaired the search committee, thanked Bernhard and his colleague Pat Sullivan, who advised on land-use issues, for their service.

“They have always conducted themselves in a professional, responsive and cost-efficient        manner with the best interests of Wilton in mind. They successfully assisted Wilton with negotiations related to the construction of municipal buildings, multiple agreements with Yankee Gas and Eversource, equipment purchases, and a plethora of other legal issues both large and small,” he said.

First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice said she echoed his comments and commended his work leading the search committee.

The finalist firms from which Bloom and his group were selected included Cohen and Wolf, Carmody Torrance Sandak Hennessey, Pullman & Comley, and Owens, Schine & Nicola.

Five firms and two individuals responded to the town’s request for proposals.

“We ran advertisements in the Connecticut Law Tribune and the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, which has a subsection for municipal attorneys, from June 20 to June 27,” Clune told fellow selectmen during their July 5 meeting.