Municipal Law & Land Use
What We Do
Our Municipal Law & Land Use lawyers represent and serve cities, towns, villages and special districts in Westchester County and beyond on a wide range of matters throughout the Hudson Valley including the following:
- Drafting of municipal resolutions, local laws, contracts, and other legal documents
- Land use application review and New York State Environmental Quality Review Act compliance
- Review of municipal agendas and representation at municipal meetings and hearings to proactively identify and diffuse potential legal problems
- Examination of the tax assessment rolls and representation in tax assessment appeals
- Representation at court proceedings and hearings in Westchester County and beyond, including litigation as to a Zoning Board of Appeals
- Creation of forms, policies and procedures to standardize government operations and best practices
- Advice and counsel to minimize municipal liability
Our Municipal Law & Land Use lawyers also represent private sector clients in a broad range of municipal areas, including the following:
- Environmental review, including New York State Environmental Quality Review Act compliance
- Subdivision applications and approvals
- Site plan applications and approvals
- Special permit applications and approvals
- Zoning change and variance applications and approvals
- Tax certiorari proceedings
- Article 78 and other challenges to municipal determinations
- Building Code, Zoning Code and environmental violations and compliance
- Representation of third parties who may be impacted by municipal determinations
Practical Solutions for Our Clients
Our Municipal Law & Land Use attorneys develop comprehensive strategies for our municipal and private sector clients. In particular, the process for major development projects has become increasingly complex and controversial. Processing environmental review and zoning and planning approvals for a major land development can require several years and involve extensive negotiations among governmental entities, private developers and interested neighborhood, environmental and other organizations. Strategic planning is essential to a successful conclusion of the development process. Our lawyers are skilled in the process and understand the legal requirements as well as the political arena in which applications are processed and approved.
McCarthy Fingar’s Municipal Law & Land Use lawyers are dedicated to our clients’ success. If you think you may require our assistance or have any questions, please contact:
- Daniel Pozin, by email (email@example.com) or phone (914-385-1062).
- Clinton B. Smith, by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (914-385-1024).
- Lester D. Steinman, by email (email@example.com) or phone (914-385-1058).
- Lori Lee Dickson, by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (914-385-1023).
We are pleased to announce that Ryan J. McLeod has joined McCarthy Fingar and is a member of our Trusts and Estates, Guardianship Practice, Surrogate’s Court Litigation, Taxation and Municipal Law & Land Use groups. Ryan joins McCarthy Fingar following a career in public service and in private law practice. Most recently, Ryan was the Supervisor of Legislative Assistance and Services in the New York State Senate, in which, among other things, he worked to ensure that all bills were properly filed and all Senate office requests were filled. Prior to that, he was a Senior Counsel responsible for advising elected officials on the ramifications of legislation before the Insurance, Energy and Telecommunications, and Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business committees. Prior to his work for the New York State Senate, Ryan was a Deputy Regional Director for Empire State Development, where his duties included counseling for-profit, not-for-profit and municipal corporations on how to obtain state and federal financial incentives for their economic development or workforce development projects. He also managed relationships with municipal officials and local economic development partners throughout the lower Hudson Valley. During this entire period of time, Ryan was also a lawyer in private practice where he handled real estate litigation, as well as trusts and estates issues.
We are pleased to announce that Joshua B. Subin has joined our firm as counsel. Joshua is a former Assistant Town Attorney with the Town of Cortlandt and is a member of our Municipal Law & Land Use and Commercial Litigation groups. Joshua practices in the areas of New York municipal law, zoning, planning, litigation and environmental law. He counsels municipal entities in Westchester County, including Boards of Trustees, Planning Boards, Zoning Boards of Appeal. Joshua also represents private clients on zoning and planning approvals on real estate development throughout Westchester, Putnam and Rockland Counties. He is also a respected commercial litigator and represents private clients in litigation matters, including, but not limited to, commercial, contract, land use and zoning and real property disputes.
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.
Representing the County of Westchester, an interdisciplinary team of litigators at McCarthy Fingar, which included James K. Landau, Edward P. Borrelli and Frank W. Streng, won an appeal in Matter of Merestead in the Appellate Division, Second Department. In Merestead, the Second Department upheld a lower’s denial of an attempt by a neighboring landowner to intervene and dismiss a petition filed by the firm on behalf of its client, the County of Westchester. By the petition, the County seeks to modify or extinguish certain restrictions on the use of Merestead, 130 acres of property donated to the County so that Merestead can better carry out the original intentions of the family that donated the property for various uses, including as a park.
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, 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.
Daniel Pozin, a member of our Municipal Law & Land Use group, lectured for the New York State Bar Association‘s Local and State Government Law Section on “Recovering Lost Municipal Revenue Through In Rem Tax Foreclosure.”
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]
McCarthy Fingar represents a diverse collection of clients, including municipal and governmental entities. Here, McCarthy Fingar’s interdisciplinary team of litigators, which included James K. Landau, Edward P. Borrelli and Frank W. Streng, succeeded in defeating an attempt by a neighboring landowner to intervene and obtained a dismissal of a petition filed by the firm on behalf of its client, the County of Westchester. By the petition, the County seeks to modify or extinguish certain restrictions on the use of Merestead, 130 acres of property donated to the County so that Merestead can better carry out the original intentions of the family that donated the property for various uses, including as a park. The Supreme Court, Westchester County, denied the neighboring landowner’s motion, and the landowner appealed to the Appellate Division, Second Department. The Second Department unanimously affirmed the decision of the motion court, agreeing that the motion to intervene was fatally defective because the neighboring landowner did not submit a proposed pleading with their motion. The Second Department also agreed with the motion court’s decision denying the motion without leave to renew on proper papers “since the proposed intervenors failed to show a real and substantial interest in the outcome of the proceeding.”[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]
In the Matter of the Application of AVC Properties LLC v. The Village of Mamaroneck Zoning Board of Appeals, et al. (Sup. Ct. Westchester, Index Nos. 59146 and 62808/2018)
McCarthy Fingar’s Municipal Law & Land Use lawyers are often defending decisions made by our municipal clients. Here, James K. Landau and Lori Lee Dickson successfully obtained the dismissal of two Article 78 petitions brought by AVC Properties, a landowner and developer who sought to appeal from resolutions issued by against firm client Village of Mamaroneck Zoning Board of Appeals (the “ZBA”). The Court agreed with ZBA’s argument that challenges to its resolutions were not ripe for judicial review because the resolutions were not final and any claimed harm by the landowner may be prevented, ameliorated or rendered moot by further steps available to petitioner and further administrative action.[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
Recovering Lost Municipal Revenue Through In Rem Tax Foreclosure
Lester D. Steinman
Ethics in Land Use: Guiding Principles for Attorneys and Land Use Board Members