Ruling Calls into Question Legality of Restrictions Posed on Thousands of Homeowners by Municipalities
Christian Browne, a Member and Partner with the Firm, successfully represented a homeowner before the Town of Hempstead Board of Appeals. The Firm's client sought to annul a condition to a variance granted by the Town of Hempstead Board of Appeals that required one unit of a two-family home to be "owner-occupied."
The property that was the subject of the variance application is known as 1541 Bellmore Road in Bellmore. The Board had originally granted a variance to allow the dwelling to be used as a two-family house on April 25, 1956. However, because of a failure of a former owner to file "variance renewal" paperwork with the Town, the two-family variance grant lapsed in 1996. Nonetheless, the house remained a two-family dwelling.
In 2017, Kenneth Sullivan, the house's now owner and the Firm's client, filed an application with the Board, seeking to revive the lapsed variance and re-legalize the house as a two-family dwelling. On June 18, 2018, the Board approved Mr. Sullivan's application, but imposed several conditions, including a condition requiring that the property owner live in one of the two units in the dwelling.
Mr. Browne argued that the "owner-occupied" condition is illegal and unenforceable because a zoning board is not permitted to regulate who uses or owns a property, but only how such property is used. On December 10, 2018, Nassau County Supreme Court Associate Justice Denise L. Sher agreed and annulled the condition, holding that the condition is illegal because it pertains to "who owns and occupies the subject premises and not the real estate itself. Conditions which relate not to the real estate involved, but to the person who owns and occupies the subject real estate, are invalid."
"The Court applied the law properly and we are pleased with the outcome," Mr. Browne said. "A zoning board may only regulate the use of land, and not by whom it is used. Thus, this ruling calls into question the legality of these kinds of conditions that are commonly imposed on homeowners, not only in the Town of Hempstead, but by municipalities throughout the region."
This was reported by Long Island Business News.
Miriam Villani, a Partner with the Firm and a Member of the New York State Bar Association Environmental & Energy Law Section Executive Committee, chairs the Section's environmental law essay contest. She presented the 31st Annual Professor William R. Ginsberg Memorial Essay Contest awards at a ceremony, which took place at the Section's fall meeting at the Emerson Resort and Spa in Mt. Tremper, New York.
The Professor William R. Ginsberg Memorial Essay Contest is an annual competition designed to challenge law students to analyze the environmental issues confronting our world today. The first-place winner received a $1,000 prize and will have her essay published in an upcoming edition of The New York Environmental Lawyer (TNYEL), of which Ms. Villani is the editor.
The winning essay was as follows:
Two second-place winners shared the $500 prize and will have their essays considered for publication in TNYEL. The essays were:
The third-place winner received $250 and will have his essay considered for publication in TNYEL.
Miriam Villani (left), a Partner with the Firm, presents an award to Raquel Parks of Pace Law School during the 31st Annual Professor William R. Ginsberg Memorial Essay Contest award presentation.
Miriam Villani (left), a Partner with the Firm, presents an award to Rachel Manning of Fordham Law School during the 31st Annual Professor William R. Ginsberg Memorial Essay Contest award presentation.
As reported in the news nationwide in October, the once-dominant Sears department stores and its many subsidiaries filed a petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the Southern District of New York. The litigation has been very active to date, often with dozens of filings in a single day. The Firm is representing a party in the bankruptcy as a claimant. Firm Partner Robert Abiuso has been engaged in the case and taken necessary actions to represent the client’s interests.
Not surprisingly, in an initial filing with the Court, Sears explained that it “enter[ed] these Chapter 11 cases in dire financial straits.” In the interim since the filing of the Chapter 11 petition, the Bankruptcy Court has granted Sears’ request for interim funding to pay creditor vendors in order to keep the flow of inventory and some stores open. In Sears’ motion to the Court, it indicated that “[t]he relief sought in this Motion is critical for the Debtors to pay their ordinary course operating expenses, to finance the Chapter 11 cases and, ultimately, to provide Sears an opportunity to survive and reorganize.” Sears sought this relief immediately, and kept the fact that it would be filing for bankruptcy confidential as long as possible, to minimize the “risk of liquidity further tightening due to immediate vendor contraction and ‘stop-ship’ actions[.]” Sears has circulated the message that the financing approved by the Court will allow it to continue to pay vendors during the course of the bankruptcy, though it is anticipated that Sears will again soon seek similar funding, in addition to the initial $300 million, in order to continue to be able to pay vendors and stock the stores, which it can continue to operate.
The first Meeting of Creditors will be held at the Office of the United States Trustee in Manhattan. Robert Abiuso will continue to be involved as the bankruptcy proceeds.
Chris Browne also represented U-Haul before the City of New Rochelle, which approved a site plan for a new facility at an industrial property that will include a newly landscaped parking area and truck rental facility.
The Firm has successfully represented Taiyaki NYC, a purveyor of an artisanal Japanese dessert served in a signature fish-shaped waffle, in expanding beyond its initial Baxter Street storefront in Manhattan. Over the past year, Adam H. Koblenz and Michael J. Barone, Jr., have represented Taiyaki NYC in the negotiation of several leases for new locations including Miami, Florida; Williamsburg, Brooklyn; and Boston, Massachusetts. The company also operates a location in Toronto, Canada.
Sahn Ward Coschignano was a sponsor of the 2018 Long Island Smart Growth Summit, which was presented by Vision Long Island. The summit took place on November 30 at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. This year's event featured a State of the Towns and Villages Panel, more than 20 separate workshops, over 100 speakers and panelists, an industry trade show and an LI Youth Summit.
John Farrell, a Partner with the Firm, representing Sahn Ward Coschignano, PLLC as a sponsor of the 2018 Long Island Smart Growth Summit.
Pictured at the Long Island Smart Growth Summit are (left to right): Firm Partner John Farrell, Firm Associate Joshua D. Brookstein, Firm Counsel Thomas D. McKevitt and Firm Partner Robert A. Abiuso.
Miriam Villani, a Partner with the Firm and Head of the Firm's Environment, Energy, and Resources Practice Group, was featured in "Who's Who 2018," a special supplement that was featured in the November 30-December 6 edition of Long Island Business News.
“Who’s Who 2018” is a collection of professionals in varied fields that the publication has featured throughout the year. Those featured in “Who’s Who 2018” were selected for their expertise and leadership and shared their business insights and their companies’ developments.
Joshua D. Brookstein, an Associate with the Firm, received the Leadership in Law Award from Long Island Business News in a special ceremony that took place on November 29 at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.
The Leadership in Law award recognizes attorneys who exemplify the following traits — experience, dedication, hard work, skill, tenacity, compassion and excellence — and is dedicated to those individuals whose leadership, both in the legal profession and in the community, has had a positive impact on Long Island. Recipients of this award demonstrate outstanding achievements, involvement in their profession, support of the community and mentoring.
LIBN Publisher Joe Giametta and Firm Associate Joshua D. Brookstein.
On November 20, 2018, Daniel H. Braff, a Member and Partner with the Firm, secured a special permit from the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals for Peloton’s new state-of-the-art flagship location at 450 West 33rd Street in Manhattan, also known as 5 Manhattan West. The facility will support multiple studios of varying sizes where Peloton will stream several types of fitness classes, including indoor cycling, running, and more, all under one roof. The facility will also include full locker rooms, a lounge and reception area, as well as accessory retail/showroom space.
The facility is deemed a Physical Culture Establishment under the Zoning Resolution of the City of New York, and requires a special permit from the Board of Standards and Appeals. Manhattan Community Board 4 fully supported the application. Mr. Braff secured the special permit in less than four months.
5 Manhattan West is a 15-story office tower that was originally built in 1969, which is presently undergoing a full renovation/modernization by Brookfield Properties as part of the development of the approximately seven-million-square-foot Manhattan West complex. The addition of Peloton in this building supports Brookfield Properties’ development of new onsite retail, dining, and lifestyle amenities, and, together with Whole Foods, will anchor the 250,000 square feet of retail at the Manhattan West complex.
Chris Coschignano, a Member and Partner with the Firm, was honored by the Syosset Woodbury Chamber of Commerce at the Chamber’s 20th Anniversary Gala for his numerous contributions to the community. The event was held on November 12 at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.
Mr. Coschignano was one of the Chamber’s founding members and is currently an honorary director. He has also served as the organization’s vice president and longtime board member. A Muttontown resident and former Oyster Bay Town Councilman, he is still involved in the Chamber as a member, and the law firm maintains local offices at 116 Jackson Avenue in downtown Syosset. Mr. Coschignano is also very involved at St. Edward the Confessor Church, where he serves on the Parish Council. In 2014, he was honored at St. Edward the Confessor School’s 15th Annual Golf & Tennis Classic for his ongoing commitment and involvement in the school and in Catholic education.
Some of his other community involvement includes serving as coach and board member of Pride in Athletics for Life Ice Hockey. He is also a member of the Knights of Columbus, Sons of Italy, Syosset-Woodbury Rotary Club, Oyster Bay Chamber of Commerce, Residents for a More Beautiful Syosset and the North Syosset Civic Association.
Left to right: Nassau County Legislator Joshua Lafazan, Firm Member and Partner Chris Coschignano, and Nassau County Legislator Arnold Drucker.
Chris J. Coschignano, a Member and Partner with the Firm, has announced that Patrick Donohue has been awarded the Chris J. Coschignano/Sahn Ward Coschignano, PLLC Scholarship. Established in 2016, the scholarship is given to a second-year law student at Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center who is interested in practicing in the area of land use and real estate law. The scholarship has special meaning to Mr. Coschignano, who is a 1990 graduate of Touro Law.
Tom McKevitt, Counsel with the Firm, coached the Holy Trinity Diocesan High School Moot Court Team for this year's Moot Court Competition, which took place on November 13 at Nassau County Supreme Court in Mineola. Although he has coached the school's Mock Trial Tournament team for the last 20 years, this is the first time Mr. McKevitt has coached the Moot Court team.
This case involved two issues: the first issue involved the First Amendment and whether school administrators violated a student's right to publish an article in the school newspaper on how students are able to cheat on tests without being caught. The second issue addressed unreasonable search and seizure and whether the Fourth Amendment was violated when the school decided to search the students' backpacks to see if they had stolen an advance copy of a test.
To prepare the team for the competition, Mr. McKevitt taught the members on the basics of Constitutional Law and how to argue before an appellate panel of judges. Firm Partner Ralph Branciforte assisted the students as they practiced at Sahn Ward's office.
Tom McKevitt (third from right), Counsel with the Firm, poses with the members of the Holy Trinity Diocesan High School Moot Court Team at the Firm's Uniondale office.
Elaine Colavito had her "Bench Briefs" column published in the November 2018 edition of The Suffolk Lawyer. "Bench Briefs" is a roundup of recent decisions from Suffolk County trial courts.
Chris Browne, a Member and Partner with the Firm, successfully obtained zoning approvals from the Village of Lynbrook Board of Zoning Appeals on behalf of Mequity Acquisitions LLC, which is in the process of purchasing the Hot Skates roller rink on 14 Merrick Road in order to convert it into a CubeSmart, a three-story, 128,000-square-foot self-storage facility. The new CubeSmart location is expected to open in 2020.
This was reported by the Lynbrook Herald.
Joseph R. Bjarnson is a Partner with the Firm and a member of the Firm's Litigation Group and Energy, Environment, and Resources Practice Group. Since joining the Firm in 2012, Mr. Bjarnson has earned a reputation as a hardworking attorney, with an ability to work on a variety of complex matters in different practice areas. Joe has also made significant contributions to his community and devoted countless hours to pro bono causes.
What was your background before joining the Firm?
Before joining Sahn Ward, I worked for a large New York City law firm as a corporate litigation associate. My practice concentrated on complex commercial litigation involving healthcare, banking, finance and insurance. After working in New York City for a few years, I decided to transition to a firm on Long Island, where my family was living. My work with the Firm also provides me more of an opportunity to have direct contact with clients to better assist with their particular matters.
What areas do you practice in?
I practice primarily in the areas of commercial litigation, zoning and land use. I have significant experience working with non-profit institutions to achieve their land use and litigation objectives. In addition, I work with one of the Firm's Partners, Miriam Villani, who leads the Firm's Energy, Environment, and Resources Practice Group.
What is the key to success in handling complex and substantial matters?
Having a comprehensive understanding and knowledge of our clients' overall institutional goals and objectives is important in achieving a successful outcome. In working with our clients in the healthcare industry, I have found that having an understanding of the advancements in the industry and the means for providing groundbreaking care have been vital to accomplishing our clients' goals. Having such an understanding, whether it is in land use or litigation matters, has allowed us to successfully work with individuals at the highest municipal and administrative levels, as well as attorneys at other firms. This is gratifying work because, when the project is completed, we have accomplished a result that will help people with their healthcare needs.
What particular trends or themes do you see in connection with large institutional clients?
Particularly in the healthcare sector, we are seeing significant advancements and improvements in the way healthcare services are provided to the community. These advancements have resulted in, among other things, new medical centers, new specialized laboratories, and expansion of existing facilities that require unique and substantial regulatory and zoning approvals.
Tell us about your pro bono work that you were recognized for.
After I joined the Firm, I served as the Firm's lead counsel in David et. al. v. Signal International, LLC, et. al., a lawsuit filed in Federal Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana. In 2015, the Firm's co-counsel and I obtained a $14 million federal jury verdict on behalf of five Indian nationals who filed the lawsuit against a marine fabrication company, with which they worked, and other defendants. The case involved claims of human trafficking, forced labor, racketeering and civil rights violations. As a result of our hard work, the trial team was honored with the Trial Lawyer of the Year award in 2015 by the Public Justice Foundation. This was a case that was very important to me and the Firm. There are still too many companies out there that take advantage of indigent and transient workers.
Decision Allows Owner to Redeem Property, Thereby Avoiding Eviction and Loss of Business
Adam H. Koblenz, Andrew Roth, and Joseph Bjarnson, Partners with the Firm, have obtained summary judgment from the Nassau County Supreme Court on behalf of their client in the case of Forest Glen Realty LLC v. T11 Funding et. al. The Court's decision protects Nassau County commercial property owners in real-property tax enforcement proceedings by holding that, in the event the tax deed owner seeks to enforce its tax deed by quieting title or a summary proceeding, they provide the former owner with the right to redeem the tax liens and their property.
Nassau County enforces delinquent real property taxes under procedures set forth in the Nassau County Administrative Code (NCAC). Under the NCAC, when a property owner fails to timely pay real property taxes, the amount of the unpaid taxes automatically becomes a lien on the real property. Once a year, Nassau County sells the liens at a public auction. Private investors can purchase the liens at the auction as investments. If a tax lien is not satisfied by the property owner within two years of its sale, the tax-lien purchaser can serve a notice to redeem on the property owner. If the property is a commercial property, and if the owner does not pay the unpaid taxes plus interest and penalties after service of the notice to redeem, the tax-lien purchaser can apply to the County Treasurer for a Tax Deed pursuant to which the Nassau County Treasurer conveys the subject property to the purchaser. Under this procedure, the property owner has no opportunity to be heard in a judicial proceeding before the Tax Deed is issued. Under the NCAC, the holder of the Tax Deed may thereafter commence a judicial proceeding in Nassau County Supreme Court to confirm that it has lawful title to the property. If the holder of the Tax Deed commences such a proceeding, however, the NCAC grants the commercial property owner the right to redeem the property in the proceeding by paying the unpaid taxes, penalties and interest. In an attempt to divest commercial property owners of their right to redeem their properties in a judicial proceeding commenced under the NCAC, some holders of Tax Deeds commence landlord-tenant proceedings to evict commercial property owners from their properties based on their Tax Deeds, in order to avoid affording the former property owner the further right to redeem.
In the Forest Glen Realty case, Forest Glen Realty (Forest Glen) owns a commercial building in Glen Cove, New York, valued at approximately $2 million. It allegedly owed approximately $1,000.00 in real property taxes on the property in 2014, unbeknownst to Forest Glen. Based upon this circumstance, Nassau County sold the tax lien on the property to T11 Funding, a private investor. When Forest Glen allegedly failed to redeem the tax lien by paying the unpaid taxes, T11 Funding applied for and was issued a Tax Deed for the property. Relying on the title that it purportedly acquired via the Tax Deed, T11 Funding commenced a landlord-tenant proceeding seeking to evict Forest Glen's tenant from the property.
In response, SWC, on Forest Glen's behalf, promptly commenced an action in Nassau County Supreme Court seeking, among other things, a preliminary injunction enjoining T11 Funding from prosecuting the landlord-tenant proceeding and otherwise interfering with Forest Glen's ownership and possession of the building on the grounds that, among other things, Nassau County's tax enforcement procedures violate Forest Glen's constitutional rights to due process and equal protection of the law.
On November 13, 2017, Nassau County Supreme Court Judge Jeffrey S. Brown granted Forest Glen's request for a preliminary injunction. The Court ruled that, in order to comply with fundamental requirements of due process, the commencement of the summary proceeding entitled Forest Glen "to one final opportunity to save … [its] property by paying the amount owed." The Court ruled that T11 Funding could not circumvent this due process safeguard afforded under the NCAC by commencing a landlord-tenant proceeding against Forest Glen based on the Tax Deed.
Forest Glen then sought summary judgment against T11 Funding. On October 11, 2018, the Court granted summary judgment, which allowed Forest Glen to redeem the tax liens that were previously purchased and cancelled the owner's tax deed upon payment of the County Treasurer.
"The ruling is a victory for commercial property owners in Nassau County and a blow to those who attempt to use Tax Deeds to confiscate commercial properties from unwary owners who failed to pay their real property taxes for one reason or another," Mr. Koblenz said. "This recent ruling by the Court will help provide equal protection to commercial property owners in these situations. These owners will no longer have to worry about being evicted from the premises or losing their businesses."
Kyle M. Lawrence, head of the Firm's Corporate and Securities practice group, assisted a construction firm in launching a commercial and consumer drone rental company to be based in California. Mr. Lawrence's client renders land surveying services, among other things, for large-scale construction projects and, at times, utilizes drones for the purpose of taking aerial photographs in connection with said projects. The company decided to enter the space as a means of adding another revenue stream. Mr. Lawrence provided counsel to the client in structuring the new entity to serve as the lessor of the drones, preparing its Equipment Lease Agreement and assisting with the development of the client's new website.
This transaction is part of a growing trend among businesses that seek to utilize drones and other new technologies, but do not have the need to buy such equipment outright.
John Farrell, a Partner with the Firm, recently represented Men on the Move before the Oyster Bay Town Board, which granted site plan approval for a 90,000-square-foot addition to the company's headquarters and self-storage facility located at 150 Crossways Park West in Woodbury. The company's expansion was made possible by an earlier Industrial Development Agency (IDA) benefit approval secured by the Firm and will allow for more self-storage space and warehousing at its Woodbury location. Men on the Move operates a moving company and several self-storage facilities on Long Island.
A proposed rendering of the newly expanded Men on the Move headquarters in Woodbury.
Michael H. Sahn, the Firm's Managing Partner, was a panelist at the Hofstra University Wilbur F. Breslin Center for Real Estate Studies Land Use Training Program for Municipal Planning and Zoning Officials, which took place on October 29 at Hofstra University. Mr. Sahn discussed the topic "Defense and Indemnification of Land Use Board Members."
Elaine Colavito, a Partner with the Firm and President of the Nassau County Women's Bar Association (NCWBA), took part in the NCWBA's Annual Membership Cocktail Party and Salute to the Judiciary, which was held on October 1 at the Nassau County Bar Association's headquarters in Mineola. The event honored the organization's new and current members and Nassau County judges.
Ms. Colavito has been a member of the NCWBA since 2012 and was a recipient of the organization's Bessie Ray Geffner, Esq. Award in 2013. She has represented the NCWBA as a guest speaker at numerous conferences. This year, she was named as an Outstanding Woman in Law by Hofstra University's Maurice A. Deane School of Law.
Firm Partner Elaine Colavito (fourth from right), president of the Nassau County Women's Bar Association, is joined by fellow NCWBA members and Nassau County judges at the NCWBA's Annual Membership Cocktail Party and Salute to the Judiciary.
Firm Partner Elaine Colavito (second from right), president of the Nassau County Women's Bar Association, is joined by fellow NCWBA members and Nassau County judges at the NCWBA's Annual Membership Cocktail Party and Salute to the Judiciary.
Elaine Colavito, a Partner with the Firm, was one of the speakers at The Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County's official opening of the Cecelia Goetz Exhibit titled "Cecelia Goetz: The Aggressive War Chief of Nuremberg," which took place on September 30. The topic of Ms. Colavito's speech was "Women in the Courtroom."
Ms. Colavito, who was serving in her capacity as President of the Nassau County Women's Bar Association (NCWBA) during the presentation, spoke about the progress women have made in the field of law. She also discussed the challenges women have faced and continue to face in the legal profession.
Firm Partner Elaine Colavito (left) and Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County's Director of Youth Education Helen Turner (right).
LIBN Publisher Joe Giametta and Firm Partner Elaine Colavito.
Elaine Colavito, a Partner with the Firm, was honored by Long Island Business News as one of the Top 50 Women in Business at a special ceremony that was held on October 18 at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. This is the second year in a row that Ms. Colavito has received this award.
Firm Partner Elaine Colavito (second from right) is joined by (left to right) Firm Partner Robert Abiuso, Firm Associate Joshua D. Brookstein, and Firm Partner Ralph Branciforte.
The Top 50 Women in Business program has recognized Long Island's top women professionals for business acumen, mentoring and community involvement. The event honors the most influential women in business, government and the not-for-profit field.
Joshua D. Brookstein, an Associate with the Firm, will receive the Leadership in Law Award from Long Island Business News in a special ceremony that will take place on Thursday, November 15 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.
The Leadership in Law award recognizes attorneys who exemplify the following traits — experience, dedication, hard work, skill, tenacity, compassion and excellence — and is dedicated to those individuals whose leadership, both in the legal profession and in the community, has had a positive impact on Long Island. Recipients of this award demonstrate outstanding achievements, involvement in their profession, support of the community and mentoring.
Elaine Colavito had her "Bench Briefs" column published in the October 2018 edition of the Suffolk Lawyer. "Bench Briefs" is a roundup of recent decisions from Suffolk County trial courts.
To review these decisions, click here.
Firm Helps Sponsor Event Benefiting Special-Needs Children and Young Adults
Jon A. Ward, a Member and Partner with the Firm, is a Board Member with Challenger Athletics, which held its Annual Surf Camp on September 16 at Gilgo Beach in Babylon.
More than 90 athletes spent an hour with an instructor and a buddy to learn how to "catch a wave" and develop self-confidence in the process. Lifeguards from Fire Island and Jones Beach also volunteered their time to ensure a safe experience for all participants.
Challenger Athletics is a charitable, non-profit organization dedicated to fostering the growth of special-needs children through sports. The organization was co-founded by Raymond Samson, whose youngest son, Patrick, has Down syndrome.
"The Surf Camp gave these children and young adults, many of whom have never been on a surfboard before, the opportunity to learn a new and exciting sport," Mr. Ward said. "It was amazing to watch these athletes brave the surf and waves with their instructors to learn how to surf. There is no doubt that this experience helped them build tremendous self-confidence by showing them that they can accomplish great things if they put their minds to it."
This event was covered by News 12 and FiOS1.
Chris Coschignano, a Member and Partner with the Firm, will be the honoree at the Syosset Woodbury Chamber of Commerce Anniversary Gala. The event will take place on Monday, November 12 from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. Mr. Coschignano will be recognized for his numerous contributions to the community.
Mr. Coschignano was one of the Chamber's founding members and is currently its honorary director; he also served as the organization's vice president and longtime board member. A Syosset resident and former Oyster Bay Town Councilman, he is involved in his local parish, St. Edward the Confessor Church, where he serves as an usher and on the church's annual festival committee. In 2014, he was honored at St. Edward the Confessor School's Annual Golf & Tennis Classic for his ongoing commitment and involvement in the school and in Catholic education.
His other community involvement includes serving as coach and board member of Pride in Athletics for Life Ice Hockey. He is also a member of the Knights of Columbus, Sons of Italy, Syosset-Woodbury Rotary Club, Oyster Bay Chamber of Commerce, Residents for a More Beautiful Syosset and the North Syosset Civic Association.
To purchase tickets, or for more information, visit www.syossetchamber.com/gala.
Elaine Colavito, a Partner with the Firm, will receive the Top 50 Women in Business Award from Long Island Business News at a special ceremony that will take place on October 18 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. This is the second year in a row that she has received this honor.
The Top 50 Women in Business program recognizes Long Island's top women professionals for business acumen, mentoring and community involvement. The event honors the most influential women in business, government and the not-for-profit field.
To view Ms. Colavito's biography, click here.
Super Lawyers Recognizes Fourteen Attorneys at Sahn Ward Coschignano, PLLC
Super Lawyers has recognized 14 attorneys from the Firm for 2018 honors. The 14 attorneys, amounting to nearly two-thirds of the Firm's Partners and Associates, were recognized in the practice areas of land use and zoning law, real estate law, environmental law, family law, and business and general litigation.
Six attorneys were selected to the 2018 New York Metro Super Lawyers list and eight more attorneys from the Firm have been selected to the 2018 New York Metro Super Lawyers "Rising Stars" list.
The attorneys recognized as "Super Lawyers" and their respective practice areas are as follows:
The attorneys recognized as Super Lawyers "Rising Stars" and their respective practice areas are as follows:
"It is an honor to be named personally, but much more important is the credit and honor to the Firm to have so many of our attorneys recognized by Super Lawyers," said Michael Sahn, the Firm's Managing Partner. "We are very pleased and gratified. This recognition reflects the outstanding and talented lawyers who serve our clients."
The Super Lawyers list is issued by Thomson Reuters. A description of the selection methodology can be found at https://www.superlawyers.com/about/selection_process.html . No aspect of this article has been approved by the Courts of the State of New York.
Matthew E. Rappaport, Counsel with the Firm, spoke to the Long Island Press for an article on how seniors can pay for long-term care in the event of a catastrophic event. Mr. Rappaport suggested self-insurance, in that one saves enough money to cover their long-term care expenses.
"You have more choices," Mr. Rappaport said. "You can go to a high-level facility or choose to pay a family member to administer care in any setting. Government-funded long-term care typically is more restrictive. I wouldn't want to be left with only the choices Medicaid provides me."
Tom McKevitt, Counsel with the Firm, served as the Focus Editor for this month's edition of Nassau Lawyer, the official publication of the Nassau County Bar Association. This issue focused on real estate and municipal law. Mr. McKevitt previously served as Nassau Lawyer's Editor-in-Chief.
Nicholas Cappadora, an Associate with the Firm, published an article titled "Finding the Right Location, Zoning and Attitude for Transit-Oriented Development" in the September 2018 issue of the Nassau Lawyer. In the article, Mr. Cappadora discusses the many benefits that Transit-Oriented Developments (TOD) can bring to Long Island, and how municipalities can streamline the zoning approval process to promote such projects in their communities.
In the article, Mr. Cappadora explains some of the typical challenges local municipalities face when trying to implement TOD projects and how to overcome them. He also details the efforts of a few Long Island municipalities that have successfully implemented a TOD zoning scheme.
"The process is about people, and without the support of the people, a community cannot achieve the transformative growth that is providing more local residents the opportunity to remain on Long Island, revitalize economically depressed downtowns, strengthen and diversify the tax base and propel Long Island into the future," he wrote.
Elaine Colavito had her "Bench Briefs" column published in the September 2018 edition of the Suffolk Lawyer. "Bench Briefs" is a roundup of recent decisions from Suffolk County trial courts.
To review these decisions, click here.
Miriam E. Villani, a Partner with the Firm, was featured in Long Island Business News’ “Who’s Who in Professional Women,” which appeared in the August 24-30, 2018 issue. Who’s Who in Professional Women highlights some of the most innovative and talented business women on Long Island whose dedication and commitment to their company and to those they serve remain at the forefront of their work.
Ms. Villani said her main focus this year has been the changes in federal environmental policy, with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency eliminating many regulations that were put in place by the previous administration. She said, as a result, the current rollbacks will undo decades of environmental protection, which is important for her clients to understand.
“The agency recently has rolled back a significant number of regulations and programs that were intended to protect our air and water quality,” she said. “In addition, since taking office, the president has taken steps to save and bolster the coal and the fossil fuel industries; allowed offshore drilling in protected waters and fracking on environmentally sensitive land; and pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Accord.”
To read the article, click here.
Daniel H. Braff, a Member and Partner with the Firm, continues to grow the Firm's New York City Land Use and Development Practice. The Firm is presently handling major projects in cutting-edge areas of New York City zoning, including public parking, fitness, affordable housing, self-storage, and multi-family housing.
In August, Mr. Braff secured a variance extension of term from the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) for a 149-space public parking garage and automobile rental establishment in Kips Bay, Manhattan. The original variance was granted by the BSA in 1961. The application for the extension was also approved by the local community board in June. The hearing was closed and the application was approved in one meeting before the BSA.
In addition, Mr. Braff has been at the forefront of the explosion of boutique fitness in New York City, and has two pending special permit applications before the BSA for physical culture establishments (fitness facilities) in Manhattan. The first will be located in NoMad and contains approximately 3,500 square feet, and the second is located in Midtown West and contains approximately 30,000 square feet. A third application for a special permit for a new fitness facility in Chelsea of approximately 15,000 square feet will be filed in the next few weeks.
Mr. Braff is also serving as zoning counsel on several major development projects involving self-storage and affordable housing, including a new 14-story self-storage facility in Chelsea, and two affordable housing projects - one in Woodside, Queens, and the other in downtown Brooklyn - of over 200,000 square feet each. He is also Special Zoning Counsel in connection with the sale of development rights in Arverne, Queens, in connection with the construction of a new self-storage building on an adjacent lot, and the purchase of development rights in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, for the development of a new multi-family building. He is also providing zoning counsel in connection with the development of a new single-family mansion in lower Manhattan of over 25,000 square feet, which will be one of the largest in Manhattan.
Adam H. Koblenz, a Member and Partner with the Firm, and Firm Associate Michael J. Barone, Jr. recently represented a client in the purchase and financing of two commercial properties in Mineola, New York, and Riverhead, New York. The two properties, each improved with a multi-tenant strip center, were valued at over $3.5 million and both served as exchange properties in the client's 1031 exchange.
They also recently represented four clients in the negotiation of commercial leases for two new office spaces, a salon, and a gym in Manhattan. The office tenants, a hedge fund and an animation and design studio, relocated their offices, respectively, from Midtown to Midtown East and from SoHo to Chinatown. The salon lease was a new lease for the tenant's existing space in Midtown and the gym lease was for a new fitness establishment in Chelsea.
John Farrell, a Partner with the Firm and head of the Firm's Suffolk County office in Hauppauge, successfully obtained a Certificate of Occupancy (C.O.) that the client was supposed to receive from the Town of Huntington Zoning Board of Appeals 18 years ago for a service station in Huntington. The Town had been previously directed by a court to issue the C.O., but the Town refused.
In 1990, Mr. Farrell's client received zoning board approval to redevelop a property with an existing gasoline service station and add a store for retail sale of merchandise. A few years later, the client received a summons for operating a convenience store on property which was not zoned for such use. The client made an application to the Board of Appeals for the convenience store and was denied. An Article 78 challenge was later filed by the client.
On February 2, 2000, the court overturned the decision and ordered the Board of Appeals to approve the application and issue the C.O. but the Town never issued the C.O. That fact came to light when the client applied for a permit to install an emergency generator. Mr. Farrell met with numerous Town officials to resolve the issue; after a series of meetings, he was able to map out a path for the Town to issue a C.O. The clients followed the plan and the Town recently issued the C.O. after 18 years.
Wayne G. Edwards, a Partner with the Firm, successfully obtained zoning approvals from the Town of Hempstead Board of Appeals on behalf of Brixmor Real Estate Investment Trust to lease 20,000 square feet of space to a new fitness center at Falcaro's Plaza Shopping Center, located on the corner of Burnside Avenue and Rockaway Turnpike in Inwood. In addition, Mr. Edwards obtained parking variances for the fitness center.
The transaction is part of a growing trend in which shuttered brick-and-mortar shopping centers are being transformed into restaurants, specialty retail and health service centers, such as physical fitness facilities. Mr. Edwards has handled a number of these conversions on behalf of landlords and tenants as part of his commercial real estate, zoning and land use practice.
Michael Sahn (kneeling, fourth from right), the Firm’s Managing Partner, and Firm Partner John Christopher (kneeling, third from right) are pictured with other sponsors from the Marcum Workplace Challenge.
Attorneys and staff members from the Firm join together for a photo at the 2018 Marcum Workplace Challenge.
Once again, Sahn Ward Coschignano, PLLC was a supporting sponsor of this year’s Marcum Workplace Challenge, which was held on July 31 at Jones Beach State Park. A large contingent of the Firm took part in the 3.5-mile run/walk.
Approximately 8,400 participants from 200 local companies were in attendance. Participating organizations included businesses, non-profits and governmental agencies, representing almost every industry in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Proceeds from the event went to benefit the Long Island Children's Museum, Children's Medical Fund of New York, Long Island Cares, Inc. — The Harry Chapin Food Bank and The Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Nicholas Cappadora, an Associate with the Firm, represented the Firm at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Galleria in the Village of Great Neck Plaza on July 23. Mr. Cappadora, along with Firm Member and Partner Chris J. Coschignano, served as Industrial Development Agency (IDA) counsel on behalf of the developer, Nemat Development Group, before the Nassau County IDA.
Mr. Coschignano and Mr. Cappadora assisted the developer in securing a financial benefits package from the IDA, which included a PILOT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) agreement, sales and use tax exemption on construction materials and an exemption from mortgage recording taxes for financing this project.
The Galleria is a new 46,100-square-foot building featuring 4,000 square feet of retail space at ground level and 30 rental apartments located above the stores. Amenities for the residents include a fitness center and on-site parking. It is located on 5-9 Grace Avenue, less than two blocks away from the Long Island Rail Road station.
This was reported by Long Island Business News.
Firm Partner John Farrell at the Firm’s new Suffolk County office in Hauppauge.
The Firm recently opened a new office in Hauppauge. Partner John Farrell, who is the leading the new office, explains his role and why the Firm established its Suffolk office, the difference between handling land use and real estate matters in Suffolk and Nassau Counties and the recent trends in Suffolk County land use transactions.
What made the Firm decide to establish an office in Suffolk County?
We see great potential for growth of the Firm in Suffolk County in a variety of practice areas, including real estate transactions, land use development, municipal law, matrimonial law and litigation. Over the past several years, the number of clients we represent in Suffolk County matters has increased substantially and having a physical presence in the county allows us to better serve those clients. We are more accessible to them and we are closer to the Suffolk County courts and the various municipalities where we handle land use applications.
In terms of land use development, how is dealing with Suffolk County towns and villages different than Nassau County towns and villages?
There isn’t a significant difference between the various towns and villages in Nassau and Suffolk. Each municipality has its own rules and regulations, but, at the end of the day, they all want good developments that help strengthen the local economy without harming the quality of life for all of their residents. I have had the opportunity to represent land use clients in almost every town in Nassau and Suffolk, and I have found that doing your due diligence on a project and understanding what the town’s zoning objectives are is critical to bringing a successful application.
What trends are you seeing in Suffolk County land use?
Development trends across Suffolk County include a shift to more multifamily and mixed-use development as a way to relieve the cost of living for young Long Islanders. Towns and villages in Suffolk County are much more supportive of these types of development than they were 15 to 20 years ago because they are seeing the success it is having in areas that embraced this type development many years ago.
As a Suffolk resident, how are you involved in the county on a personal level (community involvement, volunteering, etc.)?
I am a youth soccer coach for Babylon Soccer and I coach tee ball for West Babylon Little League. Recently, my wife and I hosted an event at our home and collected food items for the local food pantry. The event went very well and we are going to continue to do this several times throughout the year. I also serve as a member of the Town of Babylon Board of Appeals.
Adam H. Koblenz, a Member and Partner with the Firm, and Matthew Rappaport, Counsel with the Firm, hosted a seminar on June 14 in conjunction with Laffey Real Estate for Nassau County homeowners titled “The Taxman Cometh: Understanding the 2018 Tax Package and the Impact on Homeowners in Nassau County.” The seminar was held at the Bryant Library in Roslyn.
During the seminar, Mr. Koblenz and Mr. Rappaport addressed several issues, including whether prospective homebuyers’ plans for homeownership will be affected by the new federal income tax laws, the impact on the Nassau County real estate market, and if senior citizens should sell their homes sooner than planned.
The Firm was also one of the seminar’s co-sponsors.
The Firm recently represented MovieWorld, a family-owned and operated movie theater located in the Douglaston Plaza shopping center, in connection with the termination/buyout of its lease. The theater had been in operation since 1983, and the current owners had been operating it since 2012. The lease termination/buyout was necessary for the landlord, Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation, to bring in a new Lowe's store, which will contain approximately 110,000 square feet. Lowe's will also be taking over the former Macy's space for its new location.
The theater's closure was reported on by several media outlets, including NY1, QNS.com, the Times-Ledger and the Wide Screen World blog.
Miriam E. Villani, a Partner with the Firm and responsible for the Firm’s Environment, Energy, and Resources Practice Group, is advising several industrial clients in connection with citations issued by the United States Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) for employee exposure, employee training, and other workplace health and safety issues. In this growing area of the Group’s practice, Ms. Villani helps to bring the client employer into compliance and negotiates a settlement with the regulator.
Ms. Villani continues to work on several New York State brownfield matters where she provides guidance to prospective purchasers with regard to environmental risk and liability so that an informed decision is made concerning the purchase of the contaminated property for redevelopment. Once the transaction is completed, she assists the purchaser with an application to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP) and negotiates the terms of the Brownfield Cleanup Agreement. The BCP includes tax benefits as an incentive for the cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated properties.
Wayne Edwards, a Partner with the Firm, recently represented the seller of a Massapequa nursing home in the sale of the property and facility in a $12.1 million real estate transaction. The 169-bed nursing home was sold to the existing operator.
Dan Braff, a Member and Partner with the Firm, is serving as a member of the Planning Committee for the Cohen Children's Circle Golf Classic, which will take place on Monday, August 13 at Fresh Meadow Country Club in Lake Success and Deepdale Golf Club in Manhasset. Mr. Braff is an active member of Cohen Children's Circle, which supports and raises funds for the Child Life Program at Cohen Children's Medical Center.
Once again, Sahn Ward Coschignano, PLLC will be a supporting sponsor of this year's Marcum Workplace Challenge, which will take place on July 31 at Jones Beach State Park. A large contingent of the Firm will be participating in the 3.5-mile run/walk.
Last year, more than 8,400 participants from 195 local companies were in attendance. Participating organizations included businesses, non-profits and governmental agencies, representing almost every industry in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Long Island Children's Museum, Children's Medical Fund of New York, Long Island Cares, Inc. — The Harry Chapin Food Bank and The Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.--
Sahn Ward Coschignano, PLLC is once again proud to sponsor this summer's events at the Jeanne Rimsky Theater at Landmark on Main Street in Port Washington. The theater will feature live musical performances.
For more information about the summer schedule, please visit landmarkonmainstreet.org
Elaine Colavito had her “Bench Briefs” column published in the June-July 2018 edition of the Suffolk Lawyer. “Bench Briefs” is a roundup of recent decisions from Suffolk County trial courts.
To review these decisions, click here.
Construction of New Sales and Service Facility for Biener Audi’s Pre-Owned Sales Division to Take Place at Site of Former Restaurant
Michael H. Sahn, a Member and the Managing Partner with the Firm, successfully represented its longstanding client, Biener Audi, in obtaining land use and related building approvals from the Village of Thomaston to construct a new showroom and service facility for its pre-owned sales division on a 1.08-acre site at 661 Northern Boulevard in Great Neck. The new facility will have approximately 12,900 square feet devoted to sales and service.
The site is just west of Biener Audi’s main facility at 795 Northern Boulevard. The site was previously used as a steakhouse restaurant.
“We are very pleased to accomplish this project with Biener Audi, one of the top-performing Audi dealerships in the United States,” Mr. Sahn said. “This new dealership facility will allow Biener to continue to grow and serve its customers.”
This was reported by The Island Now and Long Island Business News.
Michael H. Sahn (seated, center), a Member and the Managing Partner with the Firm, speaks at the 2018 “Future of Long Island Commercial Real Estate” summit. He is joined by (left to right): Eric Alexander (standing), director of Vision Long Island; Ron Koenigsberg, founder of American Investment Properties; and Anthony Manetta, a consultant with HB Solutions LLC.
Photo Courtesy of Ron Koenigsberg
Michael H. Sahn, a Member and the Managing Partner with the Firm, was one of the panelists at the 2018 “Future of Long Island Commercial Real Estate” summit, which took place on June 7 at the Holiday Inn-Plainview Long Island. Mr. Sahn moderated a panel of real estate professionals who discussed such topics as the latest developments in real estate, an overview of the real estate market, the latest in real estate technology, advances in commercial real estate research and acceleration of the sales process.
Sahn Ward Coschignano, PLLC was also one of the event's sponsors. The event was presented by the New York Real Estate Journal and American Investment Properties.
The summit was featured in the July 3 issue of New York Real Estate Journal.
Elaine Colavito (left), a Partner with the Firm, is sworn in as president of the Nassau County Women’s Bar Association (NCWBA) by The Honorable Andrea Phoenix, past president of the NCWBA, during the organization’s installation dinner on June 11.
Attorney colleagues, family and friends join Firm Partner Elaine Colavito (fourth from right) at the Nassau County Women’s Bar Association installation dinner. Ms. Colavito was installed as the group’s new president.
Elaine Colavito, a Partner with the Firm, was installed as the new president of the Nassau County Women’s Bar Association (NCWBA) at the organization’s annual installation dinner on June 11. Ms. Colavito has been a member of the NCWBA since 2012, serving as board member, treasurer and vice president. In 2013, the NCWBA awarded Ms. Colavito with the Bessie Ray Geffner, Esq. Award.
Joshua D. Brookstein, an Associate with the Firm, has been appointed as a member of the Teach For America – New York Junior Board. Formerly known as the Young Professionals Committee, The Junior Board is committed to creating positive change within the movement for education equity in New York City. Since 2009, the board has raised approximately $1 million to support Teach For America – New York’s corps members, alumni, while serving more than 110,000 children.
Prior to becoming an attorney, Mr. Brookstein was an educator. Upon graduating from college, Mr. Brookstein joined Teach For America and was assigned to teach sixth grade in the South Bronx. Mr. Brookstein subsequently became an assistant principal at his school and served in such capacity throughout law school.
Mr. Brookstein remains passionate about working with children and volunteers as a mentor at an elementary school in Hempstead, New York, and as the high school mock trial coach to the Crescent School, also in Hempstead, New York.
The Honorable Edward G. McCabe, Special Counsel to the Firm, was recently recognized by the Nassau County Bar Association and the Town of Hempstead for his distinguished career as an attorney, judge, and public servant. Justice McCabe also participated in a ceremony at the Supreme Court in Mineola honoring longtime colleague Kathryn Driscoll Hopkins, Chief Clerk of the Nassau County Supreme Court, who received the Patriot Award from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve at a special ceremony on May 21. With 60 years of experience as a practicing lawyer, we thought it was an ideal opportunity to ask Justice McCabe about his distinguished career and share some photos of these recent events.
Why did you decide to become a lawyer?
I worked on Wall Street for a firm called Squires & Co. I was at a meeting to discuss the hostile takeover of a public corporation. After all the executives had their say, it was finally decided it was best to have the attorneys make the decisions. The next day, I enrolled in New York Law School.
Of all the positions you have held as Assistant District Attorney, Town Attorney, County Attorney, Supreme Court Judge, Administrative Law Judge and Presiding Judge of the Appellate Term, which was the most challenging and rewarding?
Administrative Judge of the Nassau County Courts.
What do you consider your most important accomplishment in your public service to the courts?
Reducing the delay times of four years for jury trials to eight months, and non-jury trials from 18 months to two weeks. Also, I was able to initiate a program with AHRC that helped individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities, while also aiding the Court. Together with the Red Cross, we established a blood drive with the jury pool. On 9/11, I kept the courts open. That day, we saw the largest number of blood donations we had ever seen.
You have mentored many lawyers over the years who have gone on to achieve success in the law, and, in fact, now serve as judges in the federal and state courts. Why do you think you are such a successful mentor?
I tried to give them the confidence in their own abilities, and stood behind the decisions they made.
Now that you are back in private practice, what trends do you see in the legal profession – both good and bad – and how has the law practice changed over the years?
I feel there is less congeniality, and the lawyers are not as civil and professional as they once were.
What advice would you give a lawyer who was just starting out in practice?
Become more involved with professional and business associations, so that people will recognize your skills.
For photos and to read more, click here.
Christian Browne, a Member and Partner with the Firm, is co-counsel with a legal team that is representing a group of Long Beach residents who successfully argued before the Long Beach Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) that the permits and variance approvals for the large-scale mixed-use development, known as the Superblock project, had expired. Therefore, the City could not issue or extend any building permits for the project.
The proposed project called for two 15-story apartment buildings with 11,000 square feet of retail space and two levels of underground parking on a piece of property along the boardwalk, located between Riverside Boulevard and Long Beach Boulevard. On January 2014, the developer was granted the necessary permits, as well as a variance, allowing the developer to exceed the City’s height limit. The following year, the City issued a foundation permit, which the Building Commissioner extended twice and was set to expire on May 28, 2018.
The developer claimed that it had complied with the terms of its agreement with the City, began work on the project as required and had vested rights to the project. The developer further claimed that the building permits and variances were valid.
The citizens appealed the issuance of the permits to the BZA. On May 24, 2018, the BZA ruled that the developer did not comply and failed to begin construction in a timely fashion. As a consequence, the building permits and the variances have been revoked and construction on the project has ceased.
“We are extremely pleased with the BZA’s decision,” Mr. Browne said. “These permits were never supposed to be issued in the first place. The developer missed the deadline in obtaining the permits and never began construction on the project in a timely fashion. This is a victory for Long Beach residents.”
This was reported in Newsday.
John Farrell, a Partner with the Firm, successfully represented a property owner before the Islip Town Board in receiving approvals for a change of zoning to develop Gracewood Estates, a proposed 96-unit apartment complex to be built upon a 9.78-acre undeveloped parcel of land in Islip. The project features a residential apartment building with 96 non-age-restricted units and an adjacent self-storage facility. The Town Board approved the zoning change on April 26. Chris Coschignano, a Member and Partner with the Firm, worked with Mr. Farrell on this matter.
Firm Partner Elaine Colavito (left) receives the Outstanding Women in Law Award from Justice Gail Prudenti (right), dean of the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University. (Photo: Philip Hinds)
Elaine Colavito, a Partner with the Firm, was honored by the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University as one of its Outstanding Women in Law during a special ceremony at the Milleridge Inn in Jericho on April 24. Outstanding Women in Law celebrates women who have made a meaningful and inspiring contribution to the legal community.
Ms. Colavito serves as president-elect of the Nassau County Women’s Bar Association (NCWBA) and will begin her term as the group’s president later this year. She previously served two terms as NCWBA’s vice president and was a member of the group’s Working Parents Committee, which discussed strategies on how to maintain a work/life balance. In 2013, the NCWBA honored Ms. Colavito with the Bessie Ray Geffner, Esq. Award.
In addition to serving with the NCWBA, she is a member of the Suffolk County Bar Association, the Nassau County Bar Association and the Columbian Lawyers. Ms. Colavito is also an author and lecturer. She is the author of “Bench Briefs,” a monthly column for The Suffolk Lawyer which is a roundup of recent decisions from Suffolk County trial courts.
Miriam E. Villani, a Partner with the Firm, presented a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) course “Completing a Successful Transaction Involving Contaminated Property” at the Basics of Environmental Law 2018 seminar.
In her presentation, Ms. Villani discussed how environmental issues or conditions are the focus of most commercial real estate transactions, especially when the current or previous use is manufacturing, dry cleaning, gasoline station, auto body and repair shops, and landfill use. Such uses that result in discharge or runoff of contaminants in the water or air — thereby creating significant economic, environmental, and public health risks — can impact the viability and terms of the deal.
Ms. Villani also pointed out that environmental laws at the federal, state, and local levels impose liability on the former and current property owners. In order to minimize any potential risks associated with the purchase and sale of real property that is environmentally impaired, sellers must make certain disclosures about the property in question, and purchasers must conduct their own due diligence concerning the existence of contamination before closing the deal.
Basics of Environmental Law 2018 was presented across the state between April 12 and April 19 and provided practical information on the structure and procedures of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and other state and federal environmental regulators. The event was sponsored by NYSBA’s Committee on Continuing Legal Education and the Environmental and Energy Law Section.
Ms. Villani concentrates her practice in all aspects of environmental law, including litigation, transactional matters, permitting, and regulatory and compliance proceedings. She is Editor-in-Chief of The New York Environmental Lawyer, a quarterly journal published by the NYSBA, and served as Chair of the NYSBA’s Environmental Law Section.
Firm Counsel Thomas McKevitt (back row, third from right) is joined by members of the Holy Trinity High School mock trial team at the Nassau County Mock Trial Tournament semifinal round.
Thomas McKevitt, Counsel with the Firm, recently served as coach of the Holy Trinity High School mock trial team that took part in the Nassau County tournament section of the New York State High School Mock Trial Tournament. On April 11, his team reached the semifinals, which were held at Nassau County Supreme Court in Mineola before Justice Randall Eng, retired Presiding Officer of the Appellate Division, Second Department.
In this year’s competition, students assumed the roles of attorneys and witnesses in consecutive trials, serving alternately as plaintiff and defendant, in a criminal case involving a 19-year-old who was arrested for disorderly conduct. To prepare for the competition, students learned about developing case themes, making opening and closing arguments, executing direct and cross-examinations, responding to objections, and introducing evidence.
Mr. McKevitt has coached the Holy Trinity High School mock trial team for 19 years, and is one of four attorneys from the Firm who volunteered their time at the mock trial tournament. Firm Partners Adam H. Koblenz and Ralph Branciforte worked with students from The Wheatley School, and Firm Associate Joshua D. Brookstein mentored students from the Crescent School.
The Firm successfully represented the developer and the owner in securing final zoning and land use variances for the development of 372 apartment units at the A. Holly Patterson campus. The approvals include 180 units that feature mostly two-bedroom apartments geared towards millennials. An additional 192 units will be age-restricted (55 and older). The innovative development will help address housing shortages for both market segments with the goal of keeping younger residents in Nassau County, and older residents, who may be seeking to downsize, in the area and close to family.
Chris Coschignano, a Member and Partner of the Firm, and Firm Associate Nick Cappadora handled the matter.
Michael H. Sahn, the Firm's Managing Partner, was one of the moderators at the 2018 "Future of Long Island Commercial Real Estate" summit, which took place on June 7 at the Holiday Inn-Plainview Long Island. Mr. Sahn moderated a panel of real estate professionals who discussed such topics as the latest developments in real estate, an overview of the real estate market, the latest in real estate technology, advances in commercial real estate research and acceleration of the sales process.
Sahn Ward Coschignano, PLLC was also one of the event's sponsors. The event was presented by the New York Real Estate Journal and American Investment Properties.
Elaine Colavito had her "Bench Briefs" column published in the May 2018 edition of The Suffolk Lawyer. "Bench Briefs" is a roundup of recent decisions from Suffolk County trial courts.
Daniel H. Braff, a Member and Partner of the Firm’s New York City Land Use and Development practice, successfully represented Peloton in securing a special permit from the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) for a new fitness facility dedicated to treadmill-based workouts.
The new fitness facility will be located at the corner of Greenwich Street and Christopher Street in the West Village. Peloton’s new location will comprise approximately 12,500 square feet and will house two production studios where it will livestream its new treadmill classes.
The facility is deemed a Physical Culture Establishment under the Zoning Resolution of the City of New York, and requires a special permit from the BSA. The local community board unanimously supported Peloton’s application, and the Firm was able to obtain the special permit in just over seven months.
Sahn Ward Coschignano's new office in Hauppauge
The Firm has opened a new office in Suffolk County, located at 1300 Veterans Highway in Hauppauge. The new location is reflective of the Firm’s growing number of matters being handled in the County.
Firm Partner John Farrell will supervise the office. Mr. Farrell concentrates his practice in the areas of zoning and land use, real estate transactions, environmental law, litigation and appeals and municipal law and legislative practice. He represents developers, property owners and franchisees in land use approval cases, municipal litigation and real estate transactions.
What are your responsibilities in leading the Firm’s Corporate and Securities Practice?
My primary responsibility is making sure that the Firm has a unified approach in how it represents businesses. It’s important to not only understand the specific matter on which a particular business needs legal representation, but to make sure that we all understand the exact nature of each client’s business. Understanding how a client operates its business enables us to not only anticipate the client’s needs, but also grants us the opportunity to refer business to our clients
What does your practice entail?
On a day-to-day basis, I see to it that my clients are all utilizing up-to-date contracts with their customers, vendors and partners that not only comport with applicable law, but provide exacting clarity as to any questions that may arise. On a more global scale, I serve as each client’s primary point person on any question that arises with respect to their business, be it related to their corporate legal needs, intellectual property issues, real estate questions, possible litigation and other disputes and general tax-related advice.
What attracted you to Corporate and Securities law?
Perhaps the single greatest attraction to Corporate and Securities law was the opportunity to work with such a diverse group of clients. If you’re a litigator or an estate planning attorney, you tend to stay within just those areas of law. When you work in my area, not only do you deal with legal issues spanning any number of disciplines, but you get to witness first-hand the inner workings of how businesses in numerous industries operate. Just in the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to work very closely with software developers, architects, restaurants, food manufacturing and distribution companies.
How much of an impact does the new tax law have on corporations?
The new tax law will have a large impact on this country as a whole, not just corporations. That said, it’s tough to predict exactly how the new law will end up impacting corporations and other entities, for better or for worse. The best advice anyone can give is that, before making any assumptions as to what the new law means for you or your business, please consult with your attorneys and accountants, not to mention waiting for the IRS to start issuing regulations concerning the new laws.
What trends are you currently seeing in the Corporate and Securities Practice Area?
A strong mix of excitement and apprehension. With the economy continuing its strong momentum, people are able to grow their businesses; however, with the volatile political climate and uncertainty of the new tax laws, business owners are hesitant to re-invest capital into their businesses for fear of an economic recession.
The Honorable Edward McCabe, Senior Counsel with the Firm, will be honored by the Nassau County Bar Association at the group's 119th Annual Dinner Dance on May 12 at the Marriott Hotel in Uniondale. Judge McCabe will be recognized for his 60 years as a practitioner of law. Prior to joining the Firm, he served as a Nassau County Administrative Law Judge and a New York State Supreme Court Justice.
Elaine Colavito had her "Bench Briefs" column published in the April 2018 edition of The Suffolk Lawyer. "Bench Briefs" is a roundup of recent decisions from Suffolk County trial courts.
Jon Ward, a Partner with the Firm, is representing Suffolk County in litigation brought by the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) challenging the county's enforcement of tax liens on all of its properties.
Firm Associate Joshua D. Brookstein and Touro Law Center Dean Harry Ballan.
Joshua D. Brookstein, an Associate with the Firm, was honored by Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center with the Public Interest/Pro-Bono Attorney of the Year Award at a ceremony that took place on March 26 as part of the law school’s Goods and Services Auction. Mr. Brookstein was recognized for his work as a coach and mentor of The Crescent School mock trial team. Last year, the team finished as one of the top 10 teams in Nassau County.
He also serves as a mentor to area students in order to become a positive presence in their lives. Last year, he mentored at Woodland Middle School and, this year, lent his time and talents to Barack Obama Elementary School.
The Public Interest/Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award is given to an attorney who devotes their time to those in need through their pro-bono efforts.
The Firm was also a sponsor of the Goods and Services Auction, an annual fundraiser to benefit the Public Interest Law Fellowship Program, which was established in the mid-1990s by Touro Law Center to encourage and facilitate the placement of students in public interest legal work.
Mr. Brookstein was also recently appointed as the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) Young Lawyers Section Liaison to the NYSBA Local and State Government Law Section.
The Firm was a sponsor at New York University School of Law's Public Service Benefit, which took place on February 28th. Proceeds from the event went to benefit the law school's Public Interest Law Center, which supports students who work in summer public interest legal positions. Firm Member and Partner Dan Braff is an active alumni at the law school. He is a Weinfeld Associate and is also on the planning committee for his class' 15th reunion this spring.
Adam H. Koblenz, a Partner with the Firm, published an article for the latest issue of the Journal of Business & Technology Law, a publication of the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. The article discusses the controversy regarding college student-athletes and whether they should be paid. Mr. Koblenz points out that, with collegiate sporting events receiving greater exposure on TV and radio, and millions of dollars being made through endorsements, ticket sales and broadcast TV contracts, colleges and universities are reaping the rewards; however, student-athletes do not see any money for their performances.
“By examining the disparate proportion of income generated by college athletes in comparison to the compensation received by the student-athlete in the form of athletic scholarships, this Article demonstrates that student-athletes do not receive the compensation they deserve for a myriad of reasons,” Mr. Koblenz wrote. “While colleges may not have a ‘legal’ fiduciary duty to ensure the academic success of both its current four-year varsity scholarship athletes and former scholarship players, colleges do have a reasonable duty to provide appropriate resources and/or support necessary for student-athletes to achieve a certain modicum of academic success and post-graduation career enhancement.”
Kyle Lawrence was named as one of the "Ones to Watch" in Law by Long Island Business News for joining the Firm as Counsel. "Ones to Watch" is featured each week in LIBN, highlighting six people who stand out in their respective fields.
Christian Browne and Joseph Bjarnson, Partners with the Firm, successfully represented a defendant-respondent in an Article 78 proceeding challenging a decision of the Nassau County Planning Commission. The Planning Commission granted the client’s minor subdivision application, but two neighbors filed a challenge to the Planning Commission’s action and sought to annul the subdivision approval. It is exceedingly rare for the court to hear a challenge to a minor subdivision approval.
The firm filed a motion to dismiss the Article 78 proceeding as time-barred, arguing that the applicable four-month statute of limitations began to run from the date on which the Planning Commission voted to approve the subdivision application at a public hearing. The challenging neighbors argued that the clock did not begin to run against them until they received a formal, written certification of the approval decision.Justice Jeffrey Brown ruled in favor of the firm’s client, holding that the statutory clock was triggered by the vote, not by a later “certification.” Because the challenging neighbors failed to file their action within four months of the Planning Commission’s vote, the Court dismissed the case as untimely. The Firm believes this is the first time a court has ever ruled on the application of the statute of limitations in a proceeding involving the Planning Commission.
Will Lead the Firm’s Corporate and Securities Practice
Kyle Lawrence has joined the Firm as Counsel. He concentrates his practice in corporate and securities law, as well as real estate law and transactions. He will take a leading role in the Firm’s growing Corporate and Securities Practice.
As an experienced corporate and business law attorney, Mr. Lawrence advises clients on all types of corporate transactions, including private placements, mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, corporate finance, business planning and strategies, licensing, manufacturing, supply and distribution arrangements. He serves as lead counsel to a wide range of longstanding business ventures and entities, as well as numerous entrepreneurial endeavors. He also serves as outside general counsel to various privately owned companies, for whom he provides advice and guidance on all aspects of day-to-day corporate and business matters.
Mr. Lawrence represents clients in a wide range of industries, including food and nutraceutical manufacturing and distribution, restaurants, emerging technologies, retail, light manufacturing, lending, architecture and software development. He also advises private issuers and principals with respect to fund formation, operations, and compliance matters in his active private equity practice.
The Firm’s Corporate and Securities Practice represents established, privately held businesses, as well as newly formed and emerging early- and growth-stage companies. The Firm’s corporate law clients include regional and national businesses, real estate ventures, manufacturing companies, professional services firms, software development and emerging technology companies, franchises, and charitable and not-for-profit entities.
Mr. Lawrence is admitted to practice in the State of New York and before the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department. He is also a member of the New York State Bar Association and the Nassau County Bar Association. In addition, he is a Founding Member of the Hydra Collective, a professional networking organization created by and for the next generation of leaders in their respective fields. He also volunteers his time with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Maurer Foundation.
He earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Tulane University in 2001 and a Juris Doctor from the Maurice A. Deane School of Law from Hofstra University in 2006.
Michael Sahn with Kyle Lawrence
“I am excited to join the Firm and become a part of this growing practice,” Mr. Lawrence said. “I am looking forward to working with the Firm’s growing roster of clients and providing them with the necessary guidance in complex corporate transactions.”“We welcome Kyle to the Firm,” said Michael Sahn, the Firm’s Managing Partner. “His knowledge and experience in corporate and securities law will be a tremendous resource to the Firm’s clients.”
Elaine Colavito, a Partner with the Firm, will be honored by the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University as one of its Outstanding Women in Law. A special ceremony will take place on April 24 at the Milleridge Inn in Jericho, starting at 6 p.m.
Outstanding Women in Law celebrates women who have made a meaningful and inspiring contribution to the legal community.
SWC was a sponsor of "Tax Reform's Impact on the Real Estate Market," a presentation which was held on January 24 at Fordham Law School and presented by the Fordham Real Estate Institute and Real Estate Services Alliance (RESA). Daniel H. Braff, a Partner with the Firm, is a member of RESA, an exclusive, member-based organization that brings together the best specialists in the real estate business in New York City who can provide assistance in all stages of a transaction.
Sahn Ward Coschignano, PLLC co-sponsored the presentation from the Fordham Real Estate Institute and the
Real Estate Services Alliance titled “Tax Reform’s Impact on the Real Estate Market.”
Daniel H. Braff, a Partner with the Firm, and Firm Associate Joshua D. Brookstein wrote an article for the January 9-22, 2018 issue of The New York Real Estate Journal titled "Get Back to the Gym: Zoning for Fitness is Heavy Lifting," which discusses the process to obtain a special permit from the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals for fitness uses.
“The process of opening a PCE in New York City is extensive and complicated,” Mr. Braff and Mr. Brookstein wrote. “It can take several months, possibly more than a year on a difficult case, but it is not, however, impossible. Understanding the requirements and the path to obtaining a PCE special permit are an essential first step for anyone interested in opening a PCE, or who is working with an individual or corporation who is looking to open and operate a PCE in New York City.”
Christian Browne, a Partner with the Firm, served as lead counsel representing a group of Long Beach residents who sought to have certain variances granted in favor of a major construction project on the City’s boardwalk declared expired.
The Long Beach Board of Zoning Appeals granted variances to a developer in February 2014 to permit the construction of two 15-story apartment towers along the City’s boardwalk. Because the developer failed to move forward with the project under the timeframe set by the zoning board, the firm’s clients asked the Nassau County Supreme Court to declare the 2014 variances expired and of no further force or effect.
Both the developer and the zoning board made motions to dismiss the case. The Court denied the motions to dismiss and ordered the zoning board to hold a public hearing in order to determine whether, in fact, the 2014 variances are null and void due to the developer’s four-year-long failure to move the project forward and obtain the building permits necessary to construct the apartment towers.
This was reported in Newsday.
Matthew E. Rappaport, counsel with the Firm, was interviewed by Newsday for an article on the benefits of preparing early for tax season. He suggested that taxpayers consider making a last-minute contribution to a retirement plan or a health savings account.
“Evaluate whether a retirement plan or health savings account contribution, either of which might count for the 2017 tax year in certain situations, might make sense,” Mr. Rappaport said. “If you’re a business owner, you may also be able to create a retirement plan, contributions to which might count retroactively as well.”
The Firm has promoted Elaine M. Colavito to Partner. Ms. Colavito concentrates her practice in matrimonial and family law, civil litigation and commercial transactions.
Ms. Colavito is President-elect of the Nassau County Women’s Bar Association. She joined the organization in 2012 as a Member of its Board of Directors and also served as its Treasurer and Vice President. In 2013, she received the group’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.
From 2014 to 2017, she was named to Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars” list in the area of Family Law, and was among the 2015 Super Lawyers “Top Women Lawyers in New York.” In 2017, she was named a Trailblazer in Divorce and Trusts and Estates by The National Law Journal and received the Top 50 Women in Business and Leadership in Law awards from Long Island Business News.
She currently writes a monthly column for The Suffolk Lawyer, a publication of the Suffolk County Bar Association, titled “Bench Briefs.” She is also the author of an article entitled “Social Networking Sites and the Right to Privacy: Kathleen Romano v. Steelcase and Educational Institutional Cooperative Services, Inc., Index No. 2233/06” that appeared in the Winter 2011 edition of the Medicine and Law Committee Newsletter, a publication of the American Bar Association. She has also lectured before the NYSBA Young Lawyers section.
Ms. Colavito is admitted to practice in the state of New York and before the U.S. Supreme Court. In addition to serving with the Nassau County Women’s Bar Association, she is a member of the Suffolk County Bar Association, the Nassau County Bar Association and the Nassau County Columbian Lawyers. She graduated summa cum laude from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and magna cum laude from Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center.
Ms. Colavito is a resident of Brentwood.
“I am pleased to be named Partner with the Firm,” Ms. Colavito said. “It has been a great experience for me to be a part of a Firm that fosters the professional growth of its attorneys.”
“We congratulate Ms. Colavito and recognize her leadership, expertise and service to our clients, the Bar and the community,” said Michael H. Sahn, the Firm’s Managing Partner. “She is an important part of our Firm’s ability to serve our clients.”
Thomas McKevitt, Counsel with the Firm, obtained approval from the Hempstead Town Board to rezone a parcel of land in Wantagh from Residential to Business for construction of a two-story day care center located on Wantagh Avenue. The Firm also obtained a special use permit from the Town of Hempstead Board of Zoning Appeals for the project.
The Firm previously represented the client in 2012 in obtaining approvals for a day care center on Center Lane in Levittown, which is currently in operation. There is a great demand for day care centers in the Levittown area, but few available properties to build these facilities, which led the client to explore this opportunity.
Elaine Colavito had her "Bench Briefs" column published in the January 2018 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 successfully represented an electrical inspection company, which sought — and was granted — injunctive relief and attorney’s fees against a rival inspection business that had posted false statements on websites, claiming the plaintiff was out of business.
The defendant, New York State Electrical Inspections, Inc. (NYSEII), used several websites under its control to promote the claim that the firm’s client, the New York Board of Fire Underwriters (NYBFU), was no longer performing electrical inspection services. While NYBFU had been dissolved around 2009, it was reconstituted in 2013 and resumed work as an electrical inspection company.
NYBFU, therefore, sued NYSEII under New York General Business Law §349, a section that prevents a business from disseminating false or misleading information that is likely to confuse or misdirect consumers.
On December 7, 2017, Justice Sharon Gianelli of the Nassau County Supreme Court ruled that, as a matter of law, the information on the NYSEII websites was untrue and could serve to mislead consumers in the market for electrical inspection services. The Court enjoined NYSEII from continuing to display false information about NYBFU on its websites and also awarded NYBFU attorney’s fees as authorized under the General Business Law.
Ralph Branciforte, a Partner with the Firm, and Associate Joshua D. Brookstein assisted Mr. Browne on the case.
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