SAHN WARD COSCHIGNANO & BAKER
is a full service law firm concentrating in the areas of zoning and land use planning; real estate law and transactions; civil litigation in state and federal trial and appellate courts; municipal law and legislative practice; environmental law; corporate / business law and commercial transactions; telecommunications law; labor and employment law; real estate tax certiorari and condemnation; estate planning and administration. The Firm is committed to providing its clients with the highest quality legal representation, counsel and advice, and to using our expertise to achieve our clients’ goals. The Firm has an extensive client base that includes Fortune 500 companies, prominent regional businesses, municipalities, government agencies and authorities, and individuals. Our offices are centrally located to serve our clients on Long Island and in New York City.
New Developments at the Firm
Founding partner Michael Sahn travelled to Washington, D.C. on June 13th to attend The Burton Awards for Legal Achievement. In its twelfth year, The Burton Awards recognizes and rewards legal scholarship, writing and achievements in the law by partners and counsel from the nation’s law firms, members of the Judiciary and legal educators. Through an alliance with the Law Library of the Library of Congress, The Burton Awards brings together distinguished members of the judiciary and the legal profession.
The Firm is very pleased to welcome our newest associates, Adam H. Koblenz and Andrew M. Roth. Before joining the Firm, Adam was associated with a prominent national firm based on Long Island. He concentrates his practice in the areas of commercial litigation and appeals. Adam also serves as a Village Prosecutor for the Village of East Hills, and is an active member of the Children’s Medical Fund of New York. Andrew Roth was previously associated with prominent law firms on Long Island. Andrew also concentrates his practice on complex commercial and corporate litigation. His clients include privately held corporations, business owners, real estate developers, real estate appraisers, lenders, partnerships, and municipalities in all litigation matters. To read Adam’s and Andrew’s complete biographies, please visit the Attorney Profile section of our website.
Developments in the Law
Completion of Vested Building Projects in New York City
Daniel H. Braff, Esq.
The NYC Department of Buildings maintains a database of stalled construction sites within the City, which is updated frequently. We note that the latest update indicates that there are more than 650 stalled construction sites in New York City. However, despite the persistently sluggish real estate development market, the NYC Department of City Planning has recently completed and continues to pursue rezoning plans throughout the City, many of which reduce density (a/k/a “down-zoning”). This can pose certain problems for developers of sites located within a rezoning area or within an area that is proposed for rezoning, where developers have completed foundations prior to a zoning change, but the project has since stalled.
In New York City, a new development is deemed “statutorily vested” under Section 11-331 of the New York City Zoning Resolution (the “ZR”), if, prior to a zoning change, a valid building permit is issued based upon complete plans and specifications, and the foundations of the new development are complete. However, while the large majority of developers in New York City are aware of this “statutory vesting,” and the rush to get foundations completed prior to the effective date of a rezoning, they may not be aware that this “statutory vesting” is not perpetual. Even if a development is deemed “statutorily vested,” pursuant to Section 11-332 of the ZR, the new development must be completed and a certificate of occupancy (or a temporary certificate of occupancy) issued prior to the two (2) year anniversary of the effective date of the zoning change. Failure to complete construction will result in a lapse of the building permit and the inability to complete construction.
When it is Proper to Impose a "Recreation Fee" as a Condition to Site Plan approval for Residential Development
John P. Christopher, Esq.
Municipalities are often faced with “as of right” applications for site plan approval for residential developments that will cause an increased burden on existing services and facilities located within the village, city or town, as the case may be. Under the municipal statutory scheme, the State Legislature has provided municipalities with certain tools to help minimize the impact of such development on the surrounding area. One of these “tools” is a board’s ability to condition site plan approval on a developer’s donation of land for park or recreational purposes, or the payment of a fee to the municipality in lieu of such a land donation.
In conditioning a site plan approval on the donation of parkland or the payment of a fee, the municipality must satisfy the statutory requirements that provide it with the ability to impose such a condition its approval. For example, in order to condition approval on a donation of land, Town Law § 274-a(6)(b) provides that.
Matters of Interest at the Firm
Chris Coschignano and John Farrell successfully represented the owners of Five Guys Burgers and Fries franchise outlets in obtaining land use approvals and permits for two new restaurants in Garden City Park and in Carle Place. We anticipate many more Five Guys’ locations in the near future, as this is a highly rated restaurant chain, and enjoys increasing popularity.
The Firm’s Litigation Department continues to expand under Jon A. Ward’s supervision and leadership. In recent months, the Firm has handled highly complex commercial matters involving cutting edge areas of the law, which include, a potential class action lawsuit, which involves arbitration issues under the Federal Arbitration Act that have been the subject of recent rulings by the United States Supreme Court; securities litigation implicating breach of fiduciary duty claims involving creditors; federal Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law claims; partnership disputes regarding voting agreements; construction law and lateral support; complex mortgage foreclosures and environmental contamination.
The Firm is pleased to have served as Special Counsel to the City of Glen Cove in the adoption of extensive amendments to the City Code relating to zoning and land use planning in order to implement the City’s new Master Plan. Michael Sahn and Jason Horowitz have taken the lead in this project, in addition to their usual role in representing the City’s Planning Board and Board of Appeals. The City Council adopted the Master Plan detailing land use and planning goals and recommendations for various neighborhoods and districts throughout the City. Newly revised standards regarding such matters as yard setbacks, lot lines, lot frontage, garage spaces, building height, minimum lot area and hillside protection have now been implemented to protect the character of the City and address land use concerns identified in the Master Plan. We are pleased to continue to be involved with the City’s forward-thinking leaders as the City prepares for its future.
Out & About
We are honored that our partner Miriam Villani has been selected by Long Island Business News as a member of the 2011 Class of Long Island's Top 50 Most Influential Women in Business, which recognizes the significant contributions of women professionals to the region's economy and communities. Miriam is a leading environmental lawyer who has made the education and professional development of fellow environmental lawyers one of her top priorities. Miriam was honored at a special awards gala at The Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury on Thursday, May 19, 2011. To learn more about the awards gala, visit the News and Events page of our website.
We congratulate Partner Dan Baker, who was recently presented with The Public Interest/Pro-Bono Attorney of the Year award from the Touro Law Center. Dan was among a group of distinguished attorneys honored for his commitment and dedication to public service and pro bono work.
Adam H. Koblenz has taken a leadership role with the Children’s Medical Fund of New York’s in organizing the 36th annual golf and tennis event. This year’s event will draw 300 influential leaders whose support will help with the purchase of an Extracaporeal Membrane Oxygenation Unit (ECMO). This sophisticated system provides lifesaving cardiac and respiratory support to pediatric patients. The Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of NY, part of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, will be the first hospital on Long Island to have an ECMO. Adam has been involved with CMF for several years, and we congratulate him on his dedication and continued commitment.
Up Close & Personal
We are pleased to highlight Daniel Braff, who joined the firm as Counsel last fall. Dan focuses his practice in land use and zoning matters involving real property located within the City of New York and Long Island, and also advises clients on a variety of transactional real estate matters. Dan is an active member of the Land Use Planning and Zoning Committee of The Association of the Bar of the City of New York and is very proud to have recently joined the New Leadership Division at North Shore-LIJ Health System, which raises funds for Cohen Children’s Medical Center. Dan and his wife live in Greenwich Village with their dog Beckett, and recently celebrated their one-year wedding anniversary. They enjoy traveling and will be spending a week in June in Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, camping, fishing and hiking among the nation’s most beautiful scenery.
Congratulations to Michael Sahn, and his wife, who recently became proud grandparents to a baby grandson. Michael’s son, a highly accomplished pediatric physician, and his wife, a physical therapist, live in Philadelphia. We wish them all the best.