The anonymous posts from activists in Tiverton are really going over the top. The latest comes from the Facebook page of Don’t Mall Tiverton — which started out with the single mission of stopping a specific development some years ago but has become just another political page. The headline is, “Matt Fabisch – Tiverton’s Latest Nightmare.”
That’s an extreme statement to make about the mild-mannered attorney who advises Tiverton’s Planning and Zoning boards. As in the past, resident Tom Buchanan shared the misleading post onto Tiverton Happenings, which is the largest local Facebook group, so it is important to respond.
Let’s start with the more-mild accusation. It’s true that Mr. Fabisch is not employed by Cameron & Mittleman, the firm of Town Solicitor Giovanni Cicione. However, he is a sole practitioner who has worked often with the solicitor and has contracted with his firm. There is a reason the solicitor’s contract gives him flexibility to bring in other attorneys, including contractors, as he balances expertise, workload, and cost.
The more dishonest claim from Don’t Mall Tiverton (and promoted by Mr. Buchanan) is about the areas of law in which Fabisch has experience. Showing a closely cropped image from Fabisch’s Website, Don’t Mall Tiverton claims his “practice areas [are limited to] estate planning, litigation, and special education,” not “municipal land use and zoning.” For some reason, the anonymous person does not actually give a link to Attorney Fabisch’s site. Maybe that’s because a link would allow readers to click around and see what was left out.
On FabischLaw.com, the menu item “Practice Areas” is divided into “Elder Law and Estate Planning” and “Litigation and Appeals.” One of the four items under Litigation and Appeals is “Municipal and Administrative Law.” That includes “Zoning/Planning Appeals.”
Keep in mind that the site is targeted toward private clients, which will affect what is emphasized and what is not. For individual clients, appeals would be the most important aspect of zoning and planning. Similarly, the site emphasizes probate and estate planning for individual clients not Fabisch’s experience as a probate judge. It’s just how the Website is organized.
In addition to experience handling appeals for private clients, Fabisch worked for the Washington County Superior Court (the busiest land-use court in the state) and spent years, himself, on the Planning Board of Smithfield, including as the chairman. He numbers the relevant cases in which he’s been involved in the hundreds, and because he’s working under contract with the solicitor he has one of the largest firms in the state as reinforcement as needed.
Making Don’t Mall Tiverton’s Facebook post even more outrageous is the insinuation that Mr. Fabisch will somehow allow developers to take advantage of Tiverton residents. The emphasis of his Website is on protecting the rights of individuals over powerful interests who seek to abuse government. That is exactly the sort of attorney Tiverton residents should want advising boards that make decisions about what we can and can’t do with our property.