Lester D. Steinman
Lester Steinman is a founding partner of our Municipal Law & Land Use group. He concentrates his practice in the representation of local governments and their land use boards, including handling litigation and appeals in federal and state courts. Lester is one of the most respected authorities on municipal law matters in the Westchester/Lower Hudson Valley region. In December 2019, Lester received the Founder’s Award from Pace Law School’s Land Use Law Center for Excellence in Conflict Resolution, Land Use, and Sustainable Development. Throughout his career, he has resolved a myriad of organizational and operational problems for local governments and has guided municipal entities through the land use and environmental review for major commercial and residential development projects, the construction and expansion of educational and religious institutions and the updating of comprehensive plans and local waterfront revitalization programs. For twenty-seven years, Lester served as Director of the Edwin G. Michaelian Municipal Law Resource Center of Pace University, a multi-faceted legal reference center which provided research and consulting services to municipalities on all aspects of local government law. During that time Lester also served as the Editor of the Municipal Lawyer, a quarterly journal distributed to the bar, judiciary and municipal officials throughout New York State. He also serves as counsel to the Westchester Municipal Officials Association. Lester is also a past chair of the Municipal Law sections of the New York State Bar Association and Westchester County Bar Association. He is also a former Adjunct Professor at Pace University School of Law. Representing the Village of Pleasantville, Lester successfully briefed and argued a landmark zoning case before New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, in which the Court of Appeals affirmed the courts’ obligation to give due deference to findings and conclusions of local zoning boards of appeal.
Lester has also received a peer review rating of AV®Preeminent on Martindale-Hubbell®.
Areas of Experience
- Land use and Environmental Review of Major Development Projects for Municipalities, including the reuse and/or redevelopment of the following:
- a 114 acre corporate campus;
- a 568,000 square foot suburban shopping center; and
- a 12.84 acre beach and yacht club on Long Island Sound.
- SEQRA counsel for the City of Mount Vernon for the Adoption and Implementation of an Urban Renewal Plan and the Mixed-Use Redevelopment of the Urban Renewal Area
- Counsel to County-Wide or City-Wide Charter Revisions Commissions
- Counsel to Planning and Zoning Boards for Various Towns and Villages
- Counsel to Boards of Various Towns and Villages on Ethics Matters and the Drafting of Storm Water, Wetlands and Other Environmental Laws
McCarthy Fingar’s Municipal Attorneys Successfully Defend the Village of Pelham against a Non Responsible Bidder
Representing the Village of Pelham, several of McCarthy Fingar’s municipal attorneys (Jim Landau, Clinton Smith and Lester Steinman) recently obtained the dismissal of an Article 78 proceeding commenced by an unsuccessful bidder for a garbage hauling contract who was found by the Village not to be a responsible bidder under the General Municipal Law. In dismissing the petition, the Supreme Court, Westchester County, determined that the Village had demonstrated 7 different ways that it rationally determined the unsuccessful bidder to not be responsible.
Lester D. Steinman, a founding partner of our Municipal Law & Land Use group, was awarded the Founders Award by Pace Law School’s Land Use Law Center, recognizing his “Excellence in Conflict Resolution, Land Use, and Sustainable Development.”
Lester D. Steinman, a member of our Municipal Law & Land Use group, lectured on “Ethics in Land Use: Guiding Principles for Land Use Board Members and Their Attorneys” at the Fifteenth Annual Land Use and Sustainable Development Conference at Pace Law School.
Lester D. Steinman, a member of our Municipal Law & Land Use group, addressed the Corporation Counsel Roundtable of the Hudson Valley on “Procedural Weapons for Defending Municipalities on Article 78 Proceedings.” Among the topics discussed were finality, exhaustion of administrative remedies, mootness, laches, statute of limitations and res judicata.
Lester D. Steinman, a member of our Municipal Law & Land Use group, lectured on “Ethics in Land Use: Guiding Principles for Land Use Board Members and Their Attorneys”, for the Westchester Municipal Planning Federation 2016 Land Use Training Institute at Westchester Community College.
Lester D. Steinman, a member of our Municipal Law & Land Use group, lectured on “Ethics in Land Use: Guiding Principles for Attorneys and Land Use Board Members”, for the Alfred B. DelBello Land Use and Sustainable Development Conference at Pace Law School.
We are pleased to advise that Daniel Pozin, Clinton B. Smith and Lester D. Steinman have joined the firm as partners and Anna L. Georgiou has joined the firm as counsel. They are all members of the firm’s newly created Municipal Law & Land Use group.
The Effect of Land Use Restrictions on the Establishment of Community Residences for the Disabled: A National Studyby Lester D. Steinman on 10/01/1987
The Urban Lawyer[Read in full]
AAA Carting and Rubbish Removal, Inc. v. Village of Pelham, ___ Misc. 3d ___ (Sup. Ct., Westchester 2020)
Municipal Law & Land Use – Article 78 Proceedings – Unsuccessful Bidders
McCarthy Fingar’s municipal attorneys often defend their municipal clients against Article 78 proceedings brought by private individuals and companies. Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules is frequently used to challenge decisions made by municipalities when a private party feels aggrieved by a decision made by a governmental entity. Here, James K. Landau, Clinton Smith and Lester Steinman obtained the dismissal of just such a proceeding against the Village of Pelham, commenced by an unsuccessful bidder for a garbage hauling contract who was found by the Village not to be a responsible bidder under the General Municipal Law. In dismissing the petition, the Supreme Court, Westchester County, determined that the Village had demonstrated 7 different ways that it rationally determined the unsuccessful bidder to not be responsible.[Read in full]
Mamaroneck Coastal Environmental Coalition v. Village of Mamaroneck Board of Appeals ___ A.D. 3d __ (2d Dep’t July 26, 2017).
Developing a proper record and articulating detailed findings are the keys for our Municipal Law & Land Use lawyers to successfully defending local land use board decision making, both in the lower court and in the appellate court. Here, Petitioner brought an Article 78 proceeding challenging the ZBA’s determination to grant a special permit to the Hampshire Club to conduct nonmember events on its property as arbitrary, capricious and contrary to law. Representing the ZBA, Lester D. Steinman and Anna L. Georgiou successfully argued that the ZBA’s determination was rationally based and supported by substantial evidence in the record. The Supreme Court, Westchester County, (Jamieson, J.S.C.) agreed dismissing the Article 78 proceeding. On appeal, the Supreme Court’s determination was affirmed by the Appellate Division, Second Department.[Read in full]
1216 Henry Avenue LLC v. Village of Mamaroneck Planning Board (Sup. Ct,, Westchester Co. February 7, 2017)
Municipal Law & Land Use – SEQRA – Conditioned Negative Declaration
Knowledge of the intricacies of the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”) is a vital asset of our Municipal Law & Land Use in defending local government land use board decisions against environmental challenges. Here, Petitioner filed an Article 78 proceeding challenging certain aspects of a Conditioned Negative Declaration (“CND”) adopted by the Planning Board under SEQRA in connection with its review of a three lot subdivision application. Representing the Planning Board, Lester D. Steinman moved to dismiss the litigation on the grounds that, in the absence of a determination on the merits of the underlying subdivision application, the challenge to the CND was premature. The Supreme Court, (Minihan, A.J.S.C.), agreed and dismissed the proceeding.[Read in full]
Mamaroneck Ices, Inc. v. Village of Mamaroneck Zoning Board of Appeals (Sup. Ct., Westchester Co.; August 9, 2016)
Our Municipal Law & Land Use lawyers sometimes oppose injunctive relief applications by private entities who seek to stay the effectiveness of determinations by land use boards. To prevail in such litigation, familiarity with the prerequisites for injunctive relief – irreparable harm, likelihood of success on the merits and the balancing of the equities – is imperative. Here, the Petitioner sought to enjoin the effectiveness of a ZBA resolution which revoked the Petitioner’s certificate of occupancy to operate an ice cream store but stayed that revocation pending Petitioner obtaining special permit and site plan approval and otherwise reducing the hours of operation pending the receipt of those approvals. Representing the ZBA, Lester D. Steinman persuaded the Court to deny the injunctive relief on the grounds of Petitioner’s failure to show irreparable harm and a balance of the equities in its favor.[Read in full]
Our Municipal Law & Land Use lawyers know that attention to procedural details is critical for the exercise of municipal rights. Here, the Appellant challenged the Village of Scarsdale’s in rem tax foreclosure proceedings on the basis of, among other things, inadequate notice. Representing the village, Daniel Pozin and Lester D. Steinman, as special counsel to the village, persuaded the Appellate Division, Second Department, that the Appellant’s arguments were wrong, and the Second Department dismissing the appeal and the case.[Read in full]
Municipal Law & Land Use – Zoning – Res Judicata – Collateral Estoppel
Our Municipal Law & Land Use lawyers sometimes use procedural defenses in representing their municipal clients. Here, the Petitioner challenged the Village of Mamaroneck Zoning Board of Appeals’ (ZBA) denial of her appeal of the issuance of a certificate of occupancy to the same neighboring property owner. The issues raised by Petitioner had previously been raised in a prior appeal to the ZBA in which she participated. As a result Lester Steinman and Anna Georgiou, on behalf of the ZBA, successfully moved to dismiss the Article 78 proceeding on the grounds of res judicata and collateral estoppel.[Read in full]
Municipal Law & Land Use – Mootness of Application to Planning Board – Wetlands Issues
Municipal Law & Land Use lawyers sometimes use procedural defenses to defeat challenges to municipal action without the necessity of reaching the merits of the claim. Here, petitioners sought to annul a decision of the Planning Board of the Village of Mamaroneck that had granted a wetland permit to a neighboring property owner. However, at the time the court proceeding was commenced, the work authorized by the wetlands permit had been completed. Lester D. Steinman and Anna L. Georgiou, representing the Village’s Planning Board, successfully moved to dismiss the proceeding as moot. Petitioners challenged the Village Zoning Board of Appeals’ denial of their appeal of a building permit issued to the same neighboring property owner. In a related case, the same petitioners sought to challenge a building permit on work that had already been completed. Les and Anna again persuaded the Supreme Court to dismiss the proceeding as moot.[Read in full]
Municipal Law & Land Use – Non-Conforming Use – Record Before Land Use Board
When representing our local government clients, McCarthy Fingar’s Municipal Law & Land Use lawyers know that developing a proper record is the key to defending a decision of a land use board. The legal principle is that, when the record before a land use board provides a rational basis for the board’s decision, courts may not substitute their judgment for that of the land use board, even if the record would also support a contrary finding by the court. Here, the ZBA had determined that the replacement of a moving and storage business, which had been on the property for 70 years with a lighting equipment business, did not constitute a continuation of a pre-existing nonconforming use. Les convinced the New York State Court of Appeals to reverse a decision of the Appellate Division, Second Department, which had reached a contrary conclusion. As a result, Les successfully defended the Village’s ZBA’s finding – to wit, that the preexisting non-conforming use of the property for a moving and storage business had been discontinued.[Read in full]
Municipal Law & Land Use – Challenges to Standing
When defending local governments, our Municipal Law & Land Use lawyers use procedural defenses to defeat challenges to municipal action without the necessity of reaching the merits of a particular claim against the municipality. Here, Lester D. Steinman, representing the Town of Eastchester, successfully attacked the standing of the Plaintiffs (cooperative and condominium unit owner associations), to challenge a Town Board resolution amending the Town’s version of the Emergency Tenant Protection Act (“ETPA”) by removing certain cooperatives and condominium from ETPA regulation. Lester argued that the Plaintiffs’ claimed loss of preferential property tax assessments, resulting from the removal of their units from the ETPA regulations, did not fall within the zone of interest that the ETPA was intended to protect. The case was dismissed based upon Plaintiffs lack of standing.[Read in full]
Westchester County Civil Service Association v. DelBello, 47 N.Y.2d 886 (1979 (reversing 70 A.D.2d 604 (2d Dep’t 1979) (Justice O’Connor Dissenting)
Municipal Law & Land Use – Powers of Local Government – Home Rule
To effectively represent local governments, McCarthy Fingar’s lawyers must understand the breadth of the powers granted to local governments under the New York State Constitution. In a landmark ruling, Lester D. Steinman persuaded the New York State Court of Appeals to endorse Westchester County’s creative use of its state constitutionally derived home rule powers to abolish the elected Office of Sheriff and to combine that office and the County’s Parkway Police into a unified Department of Public Safety Services. Les’s success for his client has permitted Westchester County to more effectively and efficiently provide police services to its citizens.[Read in full]
|Lester D. Steinman||
Ethics in Land Use: Guiding Principles for Land Use Board Members and Their Attorneys
Fifteenth Annual Land Use and Sustainable Development Conference at Pace Law School
|Lester D. Steinman||
Procedural Weapons for Defending Municipalities on Article 78 Proceedings
Corporation Counsel Roundtable of the Hudson Valley
|Lester D. Steinman||
Guiding Principles for Land Use Board Members and Their Attorneys
|Lester D. Steinman||
Ethics in Land Use: Guiding Principles for Attorneys and Land Use Board Members
- New York State Bar Association, Municipal Law Section (Chairman, 1997-1999)
- American Bar Association, Section on State and Local Government Law (Chairman, Local Government Organization and Management Committee, 1986-1988)
- Westchester County Bar Association, Municipal Law Section (Chairman, 1988-2003)