Political and Civic Activities

William H. Michelson has been active for most of his adult life in politics and local affairs, and has built up a considerable expertise in New Jersey state and local government.  Holder of a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning, in addition to his Juris Doctor degree, he has served on three different Land Use Boards in his career, and litigated various legal matters arising from that background.  He is currently Chairman of the Plainfield Historic Preservation Commission, a full-fledged land use board, in a city which has 10 historic districts and well over 600 regulated properties.  Owners of such properties must come before the Commission for permits to do construction, renovation and other changes, and a number of other regulatory matters come before the HPC, making it the full equivalent of a Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment. He frequently functions as part of the Planning staff, dealing with everyday issues and decisions that need to be made.

He is also an experienced Land Use Official. When Mr. Michelson served on the Plainfield Planning Board, as well as more recently on the Historic Preservation Commission, he heard cases for many kinds of approvals, and administered the City’s Land Use and Zoning Ordinance.  In fact, when Plainfield (a city of 50,000) had not had a new Master Plan, nor revisions to its Ordinance, for over 30 years – far longer than state law allows – he was the primary policy author who produced a new Master Plan, an entirely-new Land Use and Zoning Ordinance, and a rewritten Zoning Map.  These not only made the land-use laws much easier to enforce, but encouraged redevelopment and historic preservation in a city which had been almost moribund for years.

Mr. Michelson has also been a longtime Union County Republican Committeeman.  He has been Chairman or Vice-Chairman of the Plainfield City Republican Committee for years.  He serves as Corporation Counsel to both the Plainfield and Rahway Republican Committees.  He was Chief Republican Challenger for many years on Election Day, making sure that the election laws were enforced properly, in Plainfield and elsewhere in Union County, and helping people to vote legally who, for various reasons, needed assistance in doing so.

In 2015, Mr. Michelson was one of the two GOP Candidates for New Jersey General Assembly, in the 22nd Legislative District, which has eleven towns in it.  He has run for local office, including twice for the Plainfield City Council, in a town that is heavily Democratic.  He began his political career by running for Clerk of the District Court in Polk County, Iowa, in 1980.  Having appeared so many times before these and many other public bodies, as well as the Courts, Mr. Michelson has become an expert in Local Government Law, Land Use Law, and Political and Election Law, not to mention Planning and Zoning, given his background in land use planning.  He has particular expertise with the New Jersey Campaign Finance Reporting Act, the New Jersey Open Public Meetings Act, and the New Jersey Open Public Records Act.  He can therefore represent clients in any sort of matter involving these subjects.