Elaine Colavito had her “Bench Briefs” column published in the December 2016 edition of The Suffolk Lawyer. “Bench Briefs” is a roundup of recent decisions from Suffolk County trial courts.
The Firm's New York City Zoning Practice Group and the Firm's Environment, Energy, and Resources Practice Group continue to be at the forefront of clean energy and sustainability efforts within New York City. One of the world's largest international alternative energy companies has retained the Firm as counsel to help guide the company through the myriad of existing and potential new regulations governing energy storage facilities in New York City. The City has recently set an energy storage target of 100 megawatt-hours by 2020. The City has for the most part reviewed these facilities on a case-by-case basis under existing regulations given the unique nature of the use, but is presently exploring new comprehensive regulations. The City is trying to strike the difficult balance of supporting the development of energy storage, while also regulating these facilities through new zoning, building and fire code provisions to protect persons and property.
Christian Browne, a Partner with the Firm, successfully represented LSC Development, LLC before the Town of Hempstead Board of Appeals in obtaining a special use permit for the construction of a self-storage facility, located at 2525 Long Beach Road in Oceanside.
The two-story building — formerly the site of a commercial laundry facility — will be renovated, converting the space into 716 storage units with approximately 42,252 square feet. The existing parking lot on the property will continue to be used in connection with the business, so no variances for parking were needed. The Board of Appeals granted the permit on October 12.
Mr. Browne said that, when the laundry's operations took place, commercial trucks entering and exiting the premises caused congestion on Long Beach Road and neighbors who lived nearby complained of the noise from the vehicles and the smell of the chemicals used in the laundering process. He said the new self-storage facility will be a more harmonious use, with fewer cars coming in and out of the property and traveling along the main road. In addition, he said, the property will be remediated.
"This new project is a home run for the developers and the community," Mr. Browne said. "It will reduce the amount of traffic in front of the facility along Long Beach Road and the impacts on the neighbors. The building will be repurposed, so it won’t be torn down and it won’t place any further encumbrances on the residents."
This was reported by Long Island Business News.
Wayne G. Edwards and Christian Browne, Partners with the Firm, received Long Island Business News’ Leadership in Law award at a special ceremony that was held on November 17 at Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.
Mr. Edwards concentrates his practice in the areas of zoning and land use planning, real estate law and transactions, including acquisitions, sales, leasing and financing and related corporate transactions. He represents many of the region's most prominent real estate owners and developers in both acquiring property for development and in obtaining the municipal approvals necessary to help their projects move forward.
He regularly lectures on issues related to commercial real estate transactions, zoning and land use.
In 2013, 2015 and 2016, Mr. Edwards was named to the list of New York Metro Super Lawyers in the area of Land Use/Zoning.
He is admitted to practice in the State of New York and before the United States District Courts for the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York. He is a member of the Nassau County and the New York State Bar Associations.
Mr. Browne concentrates his practice in the areas of commercial litigation, zoning and land use planning and municipal law. He appears before all jurisdictions from Long Island to Westchester. He also assists with the Firm's New York City zoning practice and handles applications for homeowners, local businesses, major developers and large corporations.
Mr. Browne is the deputy village attorney for the Village of Island Park and has served as special counsel to the Village of Freeport. He was also a member of the Town of Hempstead Board of Appeals.
In 2015, Mr. Browne was selected by Super Lawyers as one of New York Metro’s "Rising Stars." He was recognized in the practice area of Civil Litigation, Plaintiff.
He graduated with honors from the College of Holy Cross in 1998 and received his law degree from Fordham University in 2004. He is admitted to practice in New York State and before the United States District Court for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.
He is a member of the Nassau County Bar Association and an active member of St. Agnes Cathedral Parish, where he served on a fundraising committee to help raise money to pay for the church’s renovations. He is also a contributing writer for Crisis Magazine, which covers religious matters.
The Leadership in Law Award recognizes those attorneys who carry the following qualities in their profession: dedication, hard work, tenacity and excellence. The award is dedicated to those individuals whose leadership — both in the legal profession and in the community — has had a positive impact on Long Island.
Firm Partner Christian Browne (left) and Long Island Business News Publisher Scott Schoen (right).
Adam H. Koblenz, Daniel H. Braff, and Michael Barone, Jr. recently represented a client in the purchase and financing of two commercial properties in Lawrence, Massachusetts and Roanoke, Virginia. The two properties, respectively improved with a Dollar Tree and Family Dollar store, were valued at approximately $4 million and served as exchange properties in the client’s 1031 exchange.
Baldwin and Lynbrook Applications Approved; East Meadow Location Pending Approval
Two of the Firm's Partners — John Farrell and Christian Browne — have successfully represented their respective commercial real estate clients before local municipal boards in obtaining special permits and variances for two different Starbucks locations on Long Island. A third Partner, Wayne G. Edwards, is currently representing a client seeking approval for a Starbucks to be located on Hempstead Turnpike in East Meadow.
The Town of Hempstead Board of Zoning Appeals granted special permits and variances for a new Starbucks in Baldwin on August 17. Mr. Farrell helped obtain special permits for a drive-through lane, as well as variances for 13 parking spots and signage. The store will be located at 610 Sunrise Highway in Baldwin, which is the former site of a used car dealership. The 1,885-square-foot building will seat 45 people inside the building and provide outdoor seating for 10.
On September 6, Mr. Browne received final approval from the Village of Lynbrook’s Architectural Review Board for a new Starbucks located on 831 Sunrise Highway, which is the former site of two retail establishments. He had previously obtained site plan approval and parking variances from the Village Board of Zoning Appeals. The Lynbrook Starbucks will be the first Long Island location to feature the chain’s new, updated design and will include a drive-through and 52 parking spaces.
A rendering of the new Starbucks in Lynbrook.
Ralph Branciforte, an Associate with the Firm, served in a pro bono capacity as an Assistant District Attorney for the Nassau County District Attorney and assisted in drafting an appellate brief for the appeal in People of State of New York v. Widom before the Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department. In Widom, the Appellate Division affirmed the order of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Nassau County, which had upwardly departed and designated the defendant a level two sex offender under New York State’s Sex Offender Registration Act ("SORA"), despite a presumptive level one sex offender designation based upon SORA's guidelines.
Aggravating factors may support an upward departure from an offender’s presumptive risk level if it tends to establish a higher likelihood of reoffense or danger to the community than the presumptive risk level. Thus, a court may, in its discretion, choose to upwardly depart. In Widom, Mr. Branciforte assisted in successfully arguing that the defendant was correctly designated a level two sex offender due to certain aggravating factors in the case, including the nature of the child pornography that the defendant downloaded from the Internet and that the defendant engaged in sexually explicit communications with a 15-year-old child, set up a time and place to meet with the child and traveled to the location at the prescribed time. The Appellate Division held that these circumstances constituted aggravating factors that were not adequately taken into account when designating the defendant a presumptive level one sex offender.
The Nassau County District Attorney's Office has implemented a program that bestows on private-practice attorneys the honor to serve as an Assistant District Attorney in a pro bono capacity. The program focuses on appellate cases where the private-practice pro bono attorney works with an Assistant District Attorney in the Appeals Bureau to assist in writing a brief and argue the case before the Appellate Division. This case was the third matter that Mr. Branciforte handled in a pro bono capacity for the District Attorney's Office.
Serving in a pro bono capacity for the District Attorney's Office afforded Mr. Branciforte an opportunity to serve the citizens of New York, participate in the justice system, and argue unique legal issues before the Appellate Division, Second Department.
This was reported by Long Island Business News.
Elaine Colavito, an Associate with the Firm, recently helped run a voter registration drive in conjunction with the Nassau County Women's Bar Association and the Nassau County League of Women Voters. This was part of an initiative under the auspices of the Women's Bar Association of the State of New York to get more people to vote in this year's election. As a result, 1,356 newly registered voters in the state signed up
Ms. Colavito is an active member of the Nassau County Women's Bar Association. She currently serves as the group's vice president.
Elaine Colavito had her “Bench Briefs” column published in the November 2016 edition of The Suffolk Lawyer. “Bench Briefs” is a roundup of recent decisions from Suffolk County trial courts.
Wide-Scale Municipal Practice of Imposing Time Limits Seen as Harming Businesses by Restricting Property Rights
Christian Browne, a Partner with the Firm, successfully appealed a New York State Supreme Court decision that dismissed a restaurant’s request to annul a five-year durational limit on the eatery’s parking lot that extends into the Town’s Residence District.
On April 22, 2015, the Board of Zoning and Appeals (BZA) imposed a five-year durational limit on an approval that allows Mim’s Restaurant to provide parking in a part of its property that is within a residential zoning district.
The restaurant then commenced an Article 78 proceeding, seeking to annul the durational limit. On November 18, 2015, the New York State Supreme Court, Nassau County, denied the petition and dismissed the proceeding.
On October 19, 2016, the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, overturned the lower court’s decision. In its ruling, the Appellate Court stated that the BZA does not have the authority to impose the durational limit on the restaurant’s parking lot because the Town Code does not confer any such power to limit the life of the approval.
Zoning boards routinely impose durational limits on various types of approvals given for commercial uses. Businesses often object to these time restrictions as being unfair and unnecessary burdens on their property rights because, by limiting the life of a zoning approval, zoning boards force businesses to regularly seek renewed permission for their ongoing operations.
“We are pleased with the Court’s decision,” Mr. Browne said. “We believe it strikes the proper balance between the rights of a commercial property owner and the need for the Town to protect the interest of the surrounding neighborhood.”
Nicholas J. Cappadora, an Associate with the Firm, assisted Mr. Browne on the case.
This was reported in Long Island Business News.Click here to read the article.
Chris J. Coschignano, a Partner with the Firm, raised more than $1,000 for Autism Speaks while participating in the Oyster Bay Town Supervisor’s 5 Kilometer Run on October 15. Sahn Ward Coschignano was also one of the sponsors of the event.
This was reported by the Levittown Tribune..
Long-Abandoned Two-Story Building Will Feature Office Space and Residential Apartments
Christian Browne, a Partner with the Firm, successfully represented Baldwin Medical Realty, LLC before the Town of Hempstead Board of Appeals for a mixed-use project on a two-story building located at 800 Merrick Road (corner of Merrick Road and Foxhurst Avenue) in downtown Baldwin.
The project calls for two retail stores on the first floor and two two-bedroom and two one-bedroom apartments on the second floor. As a result of the Board of Appeals’ decision, this mixed-use development project — commercial and residential space commingled in one structure — will be the first new development of its kind to be located in downtown Baldwin.
The building was occupied by a printing company before it closed down in 2003. Before that, the building consisted of retail space on the first floor and seven offices on the second floor. “The building has been on the market for 13 years with no interested buyers,” Mr. Browne said.
Mr. Browne said his client sought to place a medical practice in the building but, for various reasons, the plan never came to fruition. “Our client was stuck with this building and spent the better part of the last 10-plus years trying to sell it.”
Mr. Browne submitted the proposed retail/residential project to the Town, which referred it to the Board of Appeals since Town code requires special permission from the Board of Appeals for such mixed-use projects. On October 5, 2016, the Board of Appeals approved the project. In addition, Mr. Browne successfully obtained parking variances for five parking spaces on the property. As part of the project, the building will undergo major renovations of its exterior and the conversion of upstairs office space into apartments.
“This area of Baldwin has been the site of a promising renaissance and renewal, and our client is a pioneer in that revitalization,” Mr. Browne said. “This will be the first new building of this type to be located in the heart of downtown Baldwin. We are taking a vacant structure and restoring it to good use.”
This was reported by Long Island Business News.
Elaine Colavito had her “Bench Briefs” column published in the October 2016 edition of The Suffolk Lawyer. “Bench Briefs” is a roundup of recent decisions from Suffolk County trial courts.
Sahn Ward Coschignano, PLLC has announced the creation of the Chris J. Coschignano/Sahn Ward Coschignano, PLLC Scholarship, which will be awarded to a second–year law student at Touro Law Center interested in practicing in the area of land use or real estate law. The amount of the scholarship is $5,000 annually.
Mr. Coschignano, a 1990 graduate of Touro Law Center, concentrates his practice in the areas of zoning and land use planning, real estate law and transactions. He has handled some of the most complex zoning and land use planning projects on Long Island which have been recognized by numerous organizations for their smart growth and proper planning objectives. In addition, he is a four–term Councilman for the Town of Oyster Bay. Prior to being elected Town Councilman in 2001, he served as Counsel to the Town’s Zoning Board of Appeals.
Last year, Mr. Coschignano was honored by Touro Law Center as its "Alumni of the Month" for the month of May and as the recipient of the Keith Romaine Elected Official of the Year for his interest in and passion for government.
"I am proud to collaborate with the Firm in offering this scholarship to a Touro Law Center student who is seeking to pursue a career in either land use or real estate law," Mr. Coschignano said. "I had a great academic experience during my time at Touro, which helped to prepare me for a career in public service and as a land use attorney, and I am pleased to join with my Firm in making this scholarship available to a worthy student."
"We are grateful for every donor who helps make a positive impact in the lives of our students," said Dean Harry Ballan, of the Touro Law Center. "Scholarship support is a main focus of our strategic fundraising. The new gifts will go a long way to help both prospective students access an affordable legal education and help to reduce the debt-load of existing students."
Christian Browne, a Partner with the Firm, recently successfully represented a client before the New York State Supreme Court, Nassau County, seeking to reverse the decision of the Town of Hempstead Board of Appeals denying his application for a variance to maintain a two-family dwelling on a parcel located within the Town’s Business District.
The property, located in Bethpage, has a 10-car parking lot and had been previously used as an office. The owner later converted the structure to a three-family dwelling, but, following a lengthy legal battle with the Town, the owner proposed the elimination of one of the dwelling units. Under the Town’s Building Zone Ordinance, a two-family home must be located on a parcel of at least 12,000 square feet. The subject property has just over 10,000 square feet and so required a variance in order to legally host a two-family home. On March 3, 2016, the Board denied the application.
Mr. Browne argued before the Court that the Board failed to set forth any proper legal grounds for the denial of the application. Because there was no evidence in the record to show that the 10,000-square-foot size of the subject parcel is inadequate for the two-family use or that the deficiency in the size of the lot would cause harm to the surrounding neighborhood, the Court held the denial improper, vacated the Board’s decision and returned the matter to the Board for reconsideration.
Once again, Sahn Ward Coschignano, PLLC will sponsor the Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor’s 5K Run and Runner’s Edge "Long Island Champions Challenge," which will take place on October 15 at 9 a.m. at Townsend Square in Oyster Bay.
Chris Coschignano, a Partner with the Firm and a Councilman with the Town of Oyster Bay, will participate in the race to raise funds for Autism Speaks, which is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. In the past, Mr. Coschignano has raised funds for Ronald McDonald House Charities, ALS Association and Wounded Warrior Project.
The 5K Run kicks off the 33rd annual Oyster Festival and is conducted under the auspices of the Town of Oyster Bay Department of Parks. Race management services are provided by the Greater Long Island Running Club. Awards will be given out to the top three overall men's and women's winners, as well as for top male and female Town of Oyster Bay residents, top three wheelchair finishers and others.
"We are proud to sponsor the Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor's 5K Run again this year, and to join in supporting our colleague, Chris Coschignano, as he raises funds for such a worthy cause," said Michael Sahn, the Firm's Managing Partner.
Firm Partner Chris Coschignano (front row, center) is joined by Oyster Bay Town elected officials and members of
the Greater Long Island Running Club for a photo at Oyster Bay Town Hall. He is joined by
(front row, left to right): Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto, Oyster Bay Town Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia,
Greater Long Island Running Club Executive Director Linda Ottaviano, and Greater Long Island Running Club President Michael Polansky
John P. Christopher, a Partner with the Firm, was program chair for the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) Young Lawyers Section (YLS) 2016 Fall Meeting on September 30th and October 1st at the NYSBA Bar Center in Albany, New York. As program chair, Mr. Christopher was responsible for organizing the Fall Meeting for the YLS, the largest section in the NYSBA.
The first day of the Fall Meeting consisted of the YLS executive committee meeting, followed by a tour of the Court of Appeals and a reception at the Albany Pump Station, a historic building that was originally used to pump water from the Hudson River in 1895, but which now houses C.H. Evans Brewing Co.
On day two of the Fall Meeting, Mr. Christopher organized a 4 hour CLE Program for the YLS. The program covered topics such as striking an emotional balance while practicing law, social media ethics, legal representation of craft breweries and finding a niche in the legal field.
Mr. Christopher is the Chair-Elect of the NYSBA YLS, serves as a Section Delegate to the NYSBA House of Delegates and is a Liaison to the Real Property Law Section.
Six Chosen to New York Metro Super Lawyers List, Six More Selected as “Rising Stars”
Sahn Ward Coschignano is pleased to announce that 12 attorneys from the Firm have been recognized by Super Lawyers in the practice areas of zoning and land use law, real estate law, environmental law, family law, and business and general litigation.
Six attorneys were selected to the 2016 New York Metro Super Lawyers list and six more attorneys from the Firm have been selected to the 2016 New York Metro Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” list.
New Practice Focus Reflects Growing Need to Ensure Region’s Energy Sources Are Sustainable
The Firm has announced the formation of its Environment, Energy, and Resources Practice Group, which will be supported by the Firm’s zoning and land use, and litigation practices. The group will be spearheaded by three of the Firm’s partners, Miriam E. Villani, Jon A. Ward, and Daniel H. Braff — who, respectively, have extensive experience in environmental, litigation, and land use matters — and Associate Joseph R. Bjarnson, who concentrates his practice in environmental, land use and zoning, litigation, and appeals.
This was reported by Long Island Business News, InnovateLI and the New York Real Estate Journal.
Michael H. Sahn, the Firm’s Managing Partner, and Nicholas J. Cappadora, an Associate with the Firm, co-authored “Ripeness in Local Land Use Disputes — Williamson is Here to Stay” for the September 2016 edition of Nassau Lawyer. The article discusses when local land use disputes involving alleged violations of Constitutional rights are ripe for judicial review.
The United States Supreme Court case of Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank states the test for determining whether a local land use dispute is ripe for federal review. In the decisions discussed in the article, the courts, applying the Williamson test, ruled that the plaintiffs failed to obtain a final, definitive position from the relevant municipal agency regarding the precise application of a local law or zoning regulation to the property in question, thereby making the cases not appropriate for review by the federal courts. Mr. Sahn and Mr. Cappadora note that there is a growing trend of local landowners bringing their cases seeking redress for violations of their constitutional rights, but state and federal courts alike are using the Williamson test to reject these claims on ripeness grounds.
Adam H. Koblenz, a Partner with the Firm, published an article, “Striking a Jury Demand in a Mechanic’s Lien Foreclosure Action” in the September 2016 issue of Nassau Lawyer. In his article, Mr. Koblenz describes when and why a general contractor files a mechanic’s lien foreclosure action and how the plaintiff contractor often seeks to have the case heard by a jury. In accordance with New York State law, a contractor’s request for a jury trial is typically denied if the contractor is seeking both equitable and legal claims.
Chris J. Coschignano, a Partner with the Firm, and Nicholas J. Cappadora, an Associate with the Firm, published an article in the September 2016 issue of Nassau Lawyer titled “Boundary Line Issues In Residential Real Estate Transactions: Practical Solutions for a Real (Property) Problem.” The article provides attorneys with useful advice on how clients can resolve a conflict with a neighbor who makes additions or improvements that encroach on their client’s side of the shared property line and how their clients can protect themselves with a Boundary Line Agreement. The article also explains the consequences if a client fails to address boundary line issues with a trespassing neighbor, and how to handle an uncooperative neighbor who refuses to sign a Boundary Line Agreement.
In a Boundary Line Agreement, the encroaching neighbor agrees to acknowledge that he or she made an error in making any additions or improvements over the shared property line with the client and agrees to waive any ownership claims by virtue of those encroachments. In addition, both parties typically agree to let the encroaching structures stand, but, in the event they are torn down or destroyed, the structure(s) must be rebuilt on the neighbor’s side of the shared property line. The agreement also provides the client with clean, insurable title, allowing them to sell the house, even if the neighbor continues to trespass onto the client’s property.
Chris Coschignano, a Partner with the Firm, was one of the attorneys featured in a Long Island Business News article on how attorneys can assist local businesses in obtaining IDA benefits to bring more jobs to Long Island.
Otherwise, he said, “a project might not happen without the benefit, and the vacant land sits there, or a building sits there. There’s no increase in the tax base. The biggest thing Long Island needs now is to increase its tax base, so current property owners don’t need to pick up the difference. Yes, it takes time, but long range it’s a benefit.”
Elaine Colavito had her "Bench Briefs" column published in the September 2016 edition of The Suffolk Lawyer. "Bench Briefs" is a roundup of recent decisions from Suffolk County trial courts.
Christian Browne, a Partner with the Firm, recently obtained approval from the Rockville Centre Board of Zoning Appeals to allow for the conversion of an abandoned office building to a new medical urology practice affiliated with South Nassau Communities Hospital. The fully renovated building will house four existing practices and approximately 15 staff members. The building is located at 510 Merrick Road in Rockville Centre, in close proximity to the hospital.
The approval was reported on by the Long Island Herald.
Miriam Villani, a Partner with the Firm, was featured in Long Island Business News’ “Who’s Who in Women in Professional Services.” Her profile focused on her work with the firm, as well as being editor-in-chief of The New York Environmental Lawyer and as an author of numerous articles for many legal publications, including West’s New York Practice Series.
Michael Sahn, Managing Partner of the Firm, recently wrote an article for InnovateLI discussing the challenges local municipalities face in funding needed infrastructure improvements. Mr. Sahn offers several suggestions to help local municipalities, including the creation of a state-wide fund to help local governments pay debt service.
Elaine Colavito, an Associate with the Firm, was named as one of the “Ones to Watch” in Law by Long Island Business News. “Ones to Watch” is featured each week in LIBN, highlighting six people who stand out in their respective fields.
The Firm was a supporting sponsor of the Marcum Workplace Challenge, which took place on July 26 at Jones Beach State Park. A large contingent of the Firm also participated in the 3.5-mile run/walk.
More than 9,100 participants from 223 local companies were in attendance. Participating organizations included businesses, non-profits and governmental agencies, representing almost every industry in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
Joshua D. Brookstein, an Associate with the Firm, has become an active member of the Nassau County Bar Association, including its Speakers Bureau and its Lawyer in the Classroom program.
As part of Lawyer in the Classroom, he will visit classrooms, libraries and organizations in Nassau County to speak on various topics, including life as an attorney, the legal profession as a career, criminal law and the juvenile justice system. Prior to becoming an attorney, Mr. Brookstein was an educator and an assistant principal.
Chris Coschignano and John Farrell, Partners with the Firm, successfully represented The Salvation Army before the Town of North Hempstead in obtaining the necessary variances and site plan approvals to allow the organization to redevelop its property on Prospect Avenue in New Cassel.
The new multimillion-dollar, 20,000-square-foot facility will replace the Salvation Army’s existing building on the site, which was formerly used as a bar and restaurant and had become increasingly rundown over the years. The new facility became necessary following the growth of its ministry and its after-school programs.
Mr. Farrell, who handled the Firm’s presentation before the North Hempstead Board of Zoning Appeals, said, “We are pleased to have assisted The Salvation Army in helping to move this project forward. This expanded facility will provide significant benefits to New Cassel and the surrounding communities.”
This was reported by InnovateLI, The New York Real Estate Journal and The Westbury Times.
Adam H. Koblenz will receive the Long Island Business News Millennial Award during a special ceremony on September 15 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.
The Millennial Awards celebrates those between the ages of 19 and 35 and honors the bright, dynamic young professionals who are part of the millennial generation, who contribute to the Long Island community and who have made significant strides in business at a young age.
In 2014, Mr. Koblenz became partner at the Firm. Along with Partner Daniel H. Braff, Mr. Koblenz continues to grow his practice and the Firm’s New York City practice.
To learn more about Mr. Koblenz, please see his Attorney Profile.
Robert Abiuso, Counsel with the Firm, has been named Board Member of St. John's Residence for Boys in Rockaway Park, New York.
Mr. Abiuso concentrates his practice in the areas of personal injury litigation, insurance and supplemental underinsured and uninsured motorist (SUM) litigation, defense of claims against property damage, criminal defense, real estate law and transactions and municipal claims litigation. Prior to joining the firm, he maintained his own practice with offices in Babylon.
He is admitted to practice in the States of New York, New Jersey and the District of Columbia, and before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York and for the District of New Jersey. He is a member of the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers, the American Association of Justice, the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, the New York State Bar Association and the Nassau County Lawyers Guild.
Mr. Abiuso earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from St. John's University in 1989 and his Juris Doctor degree from Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center in 1994. In 2016, he was recognized by Touro Law Center as its Public Interest Attorney of the Year.
Founded in 1868, St. John's Residence for Boys provides programs to improve the lives of young males. Its Rockaway Park campus features a Residential Treatment Center that provides a therapeutic environment for the young residents under the group's care; individual, group and family counseling; social services; comprehensive medical care; opportunities for part-time work; and community service and recreational activities. The organization also offers the NSP – Close To Home Program, which allows young people who have committed an act of delinquency to be treated and rehabilitated closer to their communities.
Adam H. Koblenz served as Tennis Co-Chair for the Children’s Medical Fund of New York’s 41st Annual Golf and Tennis Charity Classic, which was held at the Glen Oaks Club on June 20. He currently serves as Vice President of the Men’s Division.
Mr. Koblenz has been involved in the CMF for many years, having also chaired "Cycle for CMF," which was held at Lifetime Fitness in Syosset, in 2013. Forty riders took part in the event, which raised over $10,000. The Firm was also a team sponsor.
The Children’s Medical Fund of New York is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising funds for the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York. Through a wide network of friends, volunteers and deeply committed donors, CMF has raised over $85 million to help build, equip and secure ongoing funding for programs that are vital to the needs of seriously ill children and their families.
Pictured (left to right): Thomas J. Fanning, Jr., Partner of Heritage Strategies, LLC;
Jeremy A. Taubes, Vice President of Heritage Strategies, LLC; and
Firm Partners Daniel H. Braff and Adam H. Koblenz
Elaine Colavito, an Associate with the Firm, was re-elected Vice President of the Nassau County Women's Bar Association (NCWBA) at the group's Installation Dinner on June 21. The term is for one year. She previously served as NCWBA's Treasurer and as a Member of its Board of Directors. As part of her duties, Ms. Colavito will be responsible for the organization's programs.
Ms. Colavito concentrates her practice in the areas of matrimonial and family law, and general civil litigation. In 2013, she received the NCWBA's Bessie Ray Geffner, Esq. Memorial Award for her demonstrated interest in improving the justice system, professionalism of the Bar and service to the community at large. She is recognized as a 2014 and 2015 Super Lawyers "Rising Star" in the area of Family Law and is among the 2015 Super Lawyers' "Top Women Lawyers in New York." In addition, she writes the monthly "Bench Briefs" column for Suffolk Lawyer.
She graduated magna cum laude from Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center and summa cum laude from State University of New York at Stony Brook. She is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court.
The mission of the Nassau County Women's Bar Association is to promote the advancement of the status of women in society and the legal profession; to promote the fair and equal administration of justice; and to act as a unified voice for its members with respect to issues of statewide, national and international significance to all women, and to female attorneys in particular.
The Firm's New York City-based real estate practice continues to grow under the leadership of Adam H. Koblenz and Dan Braff. Recent transactions include several Manhattan commercial leasing transactions in the past 60 days. In particular, the Firm represented a dual-language (English and Spanish) not-for-profit preschool in connection with a lease for a new location on the Upper West Side within a landmarked church. The preschool has been a fixture on the Upper West Side since the late 1970s, and was unable to extend its prior lease.
In another transaction, the Firm represented an energy trading firm in the lease of new office space in West Chelsea, and also represented the company in connection with the sublet of their prior office in an SL Green building in Midtown Manhattan. The company had outgrown its prior space.
Additionally, the Firm represented a business advisory company in the pharma, biotech, and innovative healthcare space, for the lease of new office space in Midtown Manhattan. The firm is also currently working with clients to negotiate leases for medical, retail and office uses.
Partners Jon Ward, Dan Braff, and Miriam Villani recently represented a real estate partnership in connection with the negotiation and consummation of a lease-option agreement with a solar energy company.
The agreement paves the way for the energy company to lease an approximate 50-acre parcel of land from the partnership in Suffolk County for 20 years for development and use as a solar panel farm.
John Farrell successfully represented the Salvation Army before the Town of North Hempstead in obtaining necessary variances and site plan approvals to allow the organization to redevelop its property on Prospect Avenue in New Cassel. The new multimillion-dollar, 20,000-square-foot facility will replace the Salvation Army’s existing building on the site, which was formerly used as a bar and restaurant and had become increasingly rundown over the years. The new facility became necessary following the growth of its ministry and its after-school programs.
Mr. Farrell also successfully represented the owner and operator of a non-conforming Rocky Point gasoline service station in an application to rezone its property from J-2 Business to J-5 Business before the Brookhaven Town Board. While the gas station has been located on the site since the 1950s, the applicants sought to convert the former repair shop in the service station to a convenience store, necessitating the change of zone application. The approval will allow the station to continue to operate at the site and subsequent approvals in the planning stage will allow for the entire site to be re-developed.
Artist-rendering of the Salvation Army’s new and expanded 20,000
square-foot facility to be constructed on Prospect Avenue in New Cassel
Pictured is the gas station located on Route 25A in Rocky Point which will be
replaced by a well-planned, modern and attractive convenience store and
gas station, featuring current amenities for the owner's patrons.
Elaine Colavito had her "Bench Briefs" column published in the June 2016 edition of The Suffolk Lawyer. "Bench Briefs" is a roundup of recent decisions from Suffolk County trial courts.
In addition to her active environmental law practice, Miriam Villani is a member of the Executive Committee of The Environmental Law Section of the New York State Bar Association. Miriam also serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Section's newsletter. In this interview, Miriam explains her devotion to the profession and her leadership role in the Bar Association.
When did you get involved in the Section?
I was a student member of the NYSBA Environmental Law Section in law school and then continued my membership once I started practicing. I got involved as an active member after a few years of practice. I had been attending Section CLE programs with my EPA colleagues, and liked the camaraderie of the Section. Soon after I entered the private sector, I was nominated as an Executive Committee member-at-large by one of my law school professors and mentors, Phil Weinberg. A year or so later, I was invited to chair the Section's environmental law essay contest. I still chair that contest. In 2000, I was nominated as an Officer and continued through the five-year term of officer from Secretary to Section Chair. I became the Editor-in-Chief of the Section's journal at the end of my term as Officer and have continued in that role since. As Editor-in-Chief and as a former Chair of the Section, I remain on the Executive Committee.
What motivated you to assume a leadership role on the Executive Committee and to devote efforts to publish the Section's newsletter?
Both the mission of the Section and the members who sit on the Executive Committee have been my motivation for devoting time and energy to the Section's business.
How has your work for the Section benefitted you, and what have you learned from this experience?
My involvement in the Section has added depth to my career and experience. I learn from my Section colleagues and benefit from having the state's, and probably the country's, leading environmental lawyers and legal minds available for discussing emerging issues and developing law.
How has your work helped your colleagues, and, most importantly, how has your work helped further the goals of the Section and benefit the interests of those members who practice environmental law?
I assist my colleagues at the Firm by providing a unique expertise to assist with the Firm's clients' matters. A part of the Section's mission is to educate the bar in the field of environmental law. My work as Editor-in-Chief helps facilitate this goal by getting out to the membership a scholarly publication with articles and columns that inform about the latest developments in environmental law.
Lastly, what advice do you have for law students, and newly admitted lawyers who want to practice environmental law?
Law students who want to practice environmental law should take all the classes offered by the school that have a connection to environmental law; join the school's environmental law society; write for the school's environmental law publication; join the environmental law section of at least one bar association as a student member; submit an essay to the NYSBA Environmental Law Section's essay contest; and do clinical/internship work at one or more of the environmental regulatory agencies. A newly admitted lawyer should become an active member of at least one bar association environmental law section by offering to co-chair a committee; get to know the members of that section; and, if not in an office where environmental law is practiced regularly, offer to do some pro bono work in the field in order to start building some experience.
Construction Law: Jon Ward, Wayne Edwards, and Ralph Branciforte are representing the developer of a $100 million nursing home facility in Nassau County in a construction litigation pending in the Commercial Division of the Nassau County Supreme Court. Neighboring property owners have commenced an action seeking, among other things, an injunction enjoining construction on the grounds that it allegedly imperils the structural integrity of neighboring buildings. The parties are in the midst of briefing a preliminary-injunction motion.
Insurance Law: Jon Ward and Andrew Roth are prosecuting an action in the United StatesDistrict Court for the Eastern District of New York on behalf of amunicipality against itsgeneral liability insurer for breach of the duty to defend the municipality in an underlying tort action.
Real Property/Mortgage Foreclosure/Forgery: Jon Ward and Andrew Roth have been retained by a national title insurer to defend its insured, a national lending institution, in a mortgage foreclosure action pending in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The insured is seeking to foreclose its mortgage on real property. The borrower alleges that the mortgage is void because the deed conveying the subject property to the property owner was forged.
Professional Liability/Real Estate Appraisal: Andrew Roth is defending a real estate appraiser in an action in the Nassau County Supreme Court for contribution and indemnification arising out of the condemnation of a certain industrial property by a municipality in connection with a revitalization project. The property owner is suing itsformer attorney for malpractice in the condemnation proceeding, and the attorney has sued the real estate appraiser for contribution and indemnification alleging that the appraiser did not properly appraise the property in the condemnation proceeding.
Real Property/Lien Priority: Jon Ward and Andrew Roth have been retained by a national title insurer to defend its insured, a national lending institution, in a mortgage foreclosure action pending in Richmond County Supreme Court. The plaintiff is the holder of a mortgage on the subject property who is seeking to foreclose on the property and the insured’s mortgage, which the plaintiff maintains is subordinate to the insured’s mortgage. The insured has asserted counterclaims for equitable subrogation and directing the marshalling assets.
Real Property Law/Restrictive Covenants: Jon Ward is prosecuting an appeal in the Appellate Division, Second Department, on behalf of a homeowners association, from an order of the Suffolk County Supreme Court dismissing the homeowners association’s lawsuit seeking to enforce restrictive covenants limiting the use of waterfront property in a residential community. The homeowners association’s lawsuit was dismissed because the trial court found that it did not have standing to enforce the restrictive covenants.
Wayne Edwards has been a patient of Dr. Steven Levy, a Merrick dentist, for over 30 years. When Dr. Levy needed legal help, he retained Mr. Edwards to represent him for the purchase of his existing office, but unfortunately, an agreement could not be reached with the building's owners. Mr. Edwards, a resident of Merrick, noticed a building at the intersection of Beverly Road and Merrick Road for sale. The building was previously used as a residence and photography studio. Mr. Edwards contacted Dr. Levy and they successfully negotiated the purchase of the building, subject to zoning approvals for variances that would allow Dr. Levy to utilize the building for his dental practice. Variances were obtained by Mr. Edwards from the Board of Zoning Appeals and Mr. Edwards also represented Dr. Levy in obtaining a mortgage and SBA loan to finance the acquisition and the redevelopment of the building, but also to purchase the equipment for a new state-of-the-art dental office. The building is currently under construction with an expected opening of fall 2016.
"As a patient and friend of Dr. Levy for the past 30 years, it is especially gratifying for me to help him meet his goals of owning the state-of-the-art building where he will relocate his practice. Though normally, like all of us, I don’t look forward to going to the dentist, in this case I look forward to being Dr. Levy’s first patient in the new facility."
Dr. Steven Levy's new dental office under construction at the intersection
of Beverly Road and Merrick Road in Merrick
Michael Sahn, Managing Partner of the Firm, wrote an opinion article for the Innovate LI newsletter discussing that big projects need better environmental review and oversight.
Wayne Edwards, a Partner with the Firm, was interviewed by Long Island Business News on the growing trend of gas stations seeking to boost their revenues by adding full-service convenience stores on the premises. The article cites QuickChek and Cumberland Farms as examples.
Mr. Edwards, who has obtained numerous approvals for a variety of retail uses including gas stations, said this gas station/large-scale convenience store model is a relatively unfamiliar concept to Long Island, which is why many may not be open to this idea. “The QuickChek model is something not common to Long Island, though, if you go out of the area, it’s accepted,” he said. “Long Island decision makers are having trouble getting their heads around it. I think, when people realize that it works and the world doesn’t end, it will be easier to get them built here.”
Michael Sahn and Jason Horowitz led the Firm's efforts on behalf of The Engel Burman Group to achieve all development approvals necessary for a new, 88-unit Bristal Assisted Living facility that will specialize in dementia, Alzheimer's and cognitive and memory care.
The facility is under construction in the Village of Lake Success, on the north Service Road of the LIE, between Community Drive and Lakeville Road. As reported in Newsday, the facility is literally a groundbreaking development. It will be the first of its kind in Nassau County and will provide opportunities for research and new care protocols for residents with special needs for cognitive and memory care through a research partnership with Northwell's Feinstein Institute for Medical Research.
Working in close collaboration with the Village, the complex land use approvals included the crafting of a new overlay zoning district, incentive zoning approvals, site plan and architectural review, environmental review and related approvals and permits from Nassau County and New York State for infrastructure improvements for water, drainage and sanitary facilities, curb cuts and traffic control.
Michael Sahn commented that, "As a Firm, we value the opportunity to represent The Engel Burman Group in this first of its kind project and draw upon the expertise of our attorneys to accomplish the establishment of a facility directed to caring for an ever growing segment of the population that suffers from these infirmities."
Michael Sahn and John Christopher led the Firm's successful representation of Roslyn Rescue Hook and Ladder Company #1 in obtaining approvals from the Town of North Hempstead Board of Zoning Appeals to construct a new firehouse in Greenvale. The new, state of the art firehouse will replace Roslyn Rescue's existing firehouse that was originally built in 1966. The existing firehouse is obsolete, and no longer sufficient to allow Roslyn Rescue to serve the public for both fire protection and emergency services.
Roslyn Rescue has served the Roslyn community since 1853. Its service area comprises approximately 16 square miles and includes unincorporated areas of the Town and all or parts of several Villages, including East Hills, Roslyn Estates, Brookville, Old Westbury, Flower Hill and Roslyn Harbor. The new, two-story firehouse will have approximately 14,000 square feet, providing space for six fire trucks or other vehicles to be garaged safely.
Acknowledging the selfless service of Roslyn Rescue's volunteers, who respond day or night, 365 days a year, to answer emergency calls, Michael Sahn commented that the Firm was honored to represent the Fire Company. "This firehouse is for the safety, welfare and protection of the community. To assist the members of Roslyn Rescue in their service to the community was, for us, a great endeavor."
The approval process took almost 3 years, involving many meetings with the members of the Company and the architectural team to design the firehouse to be a facility that will serve the needs of Roslyn Rescue going forward for the next 50 years. There were also many community and civic meetings. And, the support of the Mayors of East Hills and Roslyn Estates was vital to obtaining the approvals.
This was reported in Newsday.
Elaine Colavito had her "Bench Briefs" column published in the May 2016 edition of The Suffolk Lawyer. "Bench Briefs" is a roundup of recent decisions from Suffolk County trial courts.
Sandy-Damaged Office Building to be Converted into Apartments
The firm has announced that Christian Browne, a Partner with the Firm, successfully represented a developer before the City of Long Beach Zoning Board seeking approvals to convert an abandoned office building that Long Beach Hospital previously occupied for offices into a residential apartment building.
“We were pleased to represent our client in making this smart-growth project a reality,” Mr. Browne said. “It represents yet another step in Long Beach’s recovery and revitalization from the ravages of Hurricane Sandy.”
The property owner plans to construct 23 studio and one-room apartments in the four-story building at 249 East Park Avenue in Long Beach. This smart-growth project would attract “Millennials,” single people and small families. It is within walking distance of public transportation, the Long Beach boardwalk, local shops and restaurants.
The building, which was used by hundreds of workers and patients each day when it was in operation, was abandoned and undeveloped after it was damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. In addition to the proposed apartments, plans call for a new brick façade and a new entranceway, including a handicap-accessible ramp.
Mr. Browne explained that the approvals included a zoning variance for residential use, as well as a parking variance. Twenty-four parking spots will be allotted for the project.
This was reported in The New York Real Estate Journal.
Chris Coschignano, a Partner with the Firm, was named one of Long Island Business News' "Ones to Watch" in Commercial Real Estate/Architecture/Engineering/Construction/Green. Ones to Watch is featured each week in LIBN, highlighting six people who stand out in their respective fields.
As a member of the Nassau County Bar Association's Community and Public Education Committee, Josh Brookstein has been working to create a moot court program for high school students per the proposal of Judge Joseph F. Bianco of the Eastern District of New York. The program's goal is to partner law firms and government agencies with high schools to mentor teams of students who will present arguments to a panel of judges.
Josh is also a member of the Bar Association's Law Day Committee to prepare for the annual Law Day celebration on May 3.
Elaine Colavito had her "Bench Briefs" column published in the April 2016 edition of The Suffolk Lawyer. "Bench Briefs" is a roundup of recent decisions from Suffolk County trial courts.
Robert Abiuso (left) accepts his Public Interest Attorney of the Year
award from Patricia Salkin (right), dean of Touro Law Center.
Ralph Branciforte (left) accepts his Public Interest Attorney of the Year
award from Patricia Salkin (right), dean of Touro Law Center.
Robert Abiuso (left) and Ralph Branciforte (right) display their Public Interest Attorney of the Year
awards during Touro Law Center’s 22nd Annual Goods and Services Auction on March 16.
Robert Abiuso, Counsel with the Firm, and Ralph Branciforte, an Associate with the Firm, were selected as Touro Law Center’s 2016 Public Interest Attorneys of the Year. Mr. Abiuso and Mr. Branciforte were recognized with the other honorees at a special awards ceremony held during the law school’s 22nd Annual Goods and Services Auction on March 16. The Public Interest Attorney of the Year program recognizes attorneys for their commitment and dedication to performing pro bono work for the good of the public.
Mr. Abiuso has been providing pro bono legal services through Catholic Charities, the Knights of Columbus and the American Legion, as well as other civic and charitable organizations. Using his background in real estate law and transactions, he assists family members and friends who are “underwater” on their mortgages. In addition, he provided legal counsel to help restore the Vietnam Memorial Monument in Queens.
Mr. Branciforte served in a pro bono capacity as an Assistant District Attorney for the Nassau County District Attorney and successfully argued an appeal in People v. Valery before the Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department. The defendant, who was caught by two police officers burglarizing a Nassau County residence, appealed his convictions for burglary in the first degree, attempted robbery in the second and third degree, resisting arrest, and assault in the second degree. The Second Department affirmed all convictions, except for the lesser included offense of attempted robbery in the third degree.This case was the second matter that Mr. Branciforte handled in a pro bono capacity for the District Attorney’s Office. He previously participated in the program in 2014.
Adam H. Koblenz, a Partner with the firm, was named as one of the “Ones to Watch” in Law/Technology by Long Island Business News. “Ones to Watch” is featured each week in LIBN, highlighting six people who stand out in their respective fields.
Elaine Colavito had her “Bench Briefs” column published in the March 2016 edition of The Suffolk Lawyer. “Bench Briefs” is a roundup of recent decisions from Suffolk County trial courts.
Elaine Colavito, an Associate with the firm, was interviewed by Newsday for an article on how “gray divorces” — divorces involving people ages 50 or older — can take a financial toll. Ms. Colavito urged those going through a divorce to make sure all the retirement assets are divided equally and understand the options each plan offers, including pre-retirement death and survivor benefits. “You must make your elections at the time of divorce, or they are often deemed waived,” Ms. Colavito said.
The firm announced that Ralph Branciforte, an Associate with the firm, served in a pro bono capacity as an Assistant District Attorney for the Nassau County District Attorney and successfully argued an appeal in People v. Valery before the Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department. The defendant appealed his convictions for burglary in the first degree, attempted robbery in the second and third degree, resisting arrest, and assault in the second degree. The Second Department affirmed all convictions, except for the lesser included offense of attempted robbery in the third degree.
This was reported by Innovate LI. Click here to read the Innovate LI article.
Firm Partner Chris Coschignano recently represented Safeguard Self-Storage, a national self-storage company headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, before the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency in an application for financial benefits for a new project in the Village of East Rockaway. Mr. Coschignano was assisted by John Farrell and Nicolas J. Cappadora, an Associate with the Firm.
The IDA approved a fifteen (15) year PILOT which will provide Safeguard with substantial real estate tax savings by slowly phasing in property taxes over the term of the agreement. The project would not be economically feasible without the IDA's assistance and Safeguard will also receive a sales tax exemption worth hundreds of thousands of dollars on the purchase of all materials needed for the construction of the project.
In return, the county will benefit from Safeguard’s multimillion-dollar investment at an underutilized property to construct a 71,00-square-foot, state-of-the-art self-storage facility, as well as additional sales tax and employment opportunities for the residents of Nassau County.
Mr. Coschignano also successfully represented Safeguard before the Village of East Rockaway Zoning Board of Appeals in connection with variances needed for building height and off-street parking that allowed the project to move forward.
Transit-Oriented 192-Unit Rental Development Will Help Revitalize Downtown
Chris Coschignano, a Partner with the firm, successfully represented a developer before the Mineola Village Board, which approved the construction of an apartment complex that will be built at the former site of a Catholic elementary school. The 192-unit rental apartment complex is a Transit-Oriented Development (TOD), providing easy access to the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR).
Mill Creek Residential, a Dallas-based developer, sought to build the complex in the Village of Mineola. The plans call for the construction of two four-story apartments at the site of the former Corpus Christi Elementary School on Searing Avenue. The apartments would be TOD and located less than one mile from the Long Island Rail Road station. Amenities would include a courtyard, club room and gym. Each lease will include one parking spot.
More than a year ago, the Church entered into a sales contract with Mill Creek Residential to purchase the former school and an adjacent property. The Corpus Christi Parish would use the sales to pay off debt owed to the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
Firm Partner John Farrell and firm Associate Nicholas Cappadora joined Mr. Coschignano in representing Mill Creek Residential.
This approval is a win-win-win for not just Mill Creek, Corpus Christi Church and the Diocese of Rockville Centre, but also for the residents of the Village of Mineola,” Mr. Coschignano said. “The project represents a redevelopment of an unutilized property that will help to attract people to the village who will have easy access to the LIRR. It is a smart-growth project that is helping communities like Mineola transform and revitalize their downtowns.”
This was reported by Long Island Business News and The Island Now.
The Firm is a sponsor of Innovate Long Island, a digital news platform founded by former Long Island Business News publisher John Kominicki to cover business and technology innovation in the region’s "next economy."
Michael H. Sahn, a managing partner of the firm, wrote an op-ed article for the Long Island Business News on how century-old zoning laws must change to meet changing times in order to promote economic growth and further community needs.
In the article, Mr. Sahn suggested that a new approach should be taken to zoning and land use law. “With proper safeguards, having different uses in the same vicinity and, indeed, the same location and zoning districts can actually advance important goals, such as conserving resources, making public transportation more desirable, advancing the use of alternative energy sources, and promoting commerce and economic development,” he wrote. “We can have industrial and service uses in reasonable proximity to one another. We can have large and small lot residential development. But, we need the legal foundation to make it all work.”
Elaine Colavito had her “Bench Briefs” column published in the January 2016 edition of The Suffolk Lawyer. “Bench Briefs” is a roundup of recent decisions from Suffolk County trial courts.
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