Permitting and Other Environmental Challenges

Our attorneys have experience in dealing with permitting issues under a range of environmental statutes including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, State and local permitting requirements.  We have been consulted on everything from the potential need for permitting for air cleaning devices under TSCA (because of the chemical action involved), to fending off claims of an unpermitted boat dock in Long Island Sound, permitting for medical imaging facilities, and permitting for day care centers to be located in New York City.

Whenever possible, we look for creative solutions. For example, when the NYSDEC charged a client with allegedly building a large structure in protected State tidal wetlands without a NYSDEC permit, we proposed a settlement that would both protect our client’s property and due process rights, while benefiting the environment.  This strategy allowed our client to avoid expensive and lengthy litigation, and achieve his goal of protecting the property. We also have experience reviewing and challenging NYSDEC permits and SEQR determinations. In one recent matter, we successfully resisted a claim by a local health department that our client had unpermitted underground storage tanks in use on its property. We showed that the tanks, although still in use, were installed before the permitting requirements came into effect, and therefore did not apply to our client.  We also used the non-retroactivity argument to resist claims by the NYSDEC that a Brownfield site no longer qualified for that program. The requirements the NYSDEC cited came into effect after the site was in the program and there was nothing to suggest that the legislature intended the new requirements to be retroactive.   

We also joined, on a pro bono basis, an effort to protect a part of the Bronx River Parkway Reservation, Westchester’s oldest park by use of local zoning law, a tree ordinance, the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR), the State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, FEMA and wetlands regulations, and the common law public trust doctrine. 

Although each permitting situation can have its unique challenges, we use our diverse permitting experience to work to solve the problems in cost effective way.