Bringing Together A Community of Interests.
Working with municipalities and school districts requires the tact and persuasiveness of a diplomat. That's because cases involving communities and their governments usually have a diverse number of stakeholders who are often at odds.
Whether it’s a village, a county, a city, public authority or related public agencies, Underberg & Kessler’s Municipal Practice Group works at bringing people together to achieve consensus on difficult issues. We defend municipalities and school districts when actions are taken against them, and in public liability claims. We also take care of the day-to-day legal responsibilities of municipal governments, such as zoning and planning, tax assessment and legislative drafting.
We represent towns, villages, cities, school districts and public authorities in all aspects of municipal law, including:
Public finance/bond counsel services
Preparation of local legislation
Environmental and tort law
Capital and public works projects
Planning, financing and construction
Creation of improvement districts
Tax certiorari matters
Zoning and planning
Public liability claims
Real estate development
Civil Service proceedings
Acted as Bond Counsel for a Public Authority in connection with a $63 million Bond Issuance consisting of new construction funding in the amount of $8 million, for water utility improvements and refunding $55 million of outstanding bonds that were issued from 1995 through 2002. The total Issue was sold as Variable Rate Debt utilizing Auction Rate Securities, and the transaction utilized a Qualified Hedge in the form of an Interest Rate Swap Agreement to hedge a synthetic fixed rate against fluctuations in the variable rate interest costs.
Served as Bond Counsel for a number of different municipalities in connection with financings with the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation. Such transactions consisted of bond sales and notes sales under the New York State Clean Water Revolving Fund for sanitary sewer facilities and under the New York State Drinking Water Revolving Fund for water facilities.
Acted as Issuer’s Counsel for various County Industrial Development Agencies in connection with the sale of Civic Facility Industrial Revenue Bonds for the construction of additions to and renovations of various hospitals throughout New York State.
Acted as Underwriter’s Counsel to major Wall Street investment banks in transactions involving short-term tax-free municipal securities such as Revenue Anticipation Notes (RANS) including a sale of RANS in the amount of $125 million to assist a large municipality in funding short-term budget deficits.
Assisted communities in the formation and organization of Improvement Districts such as water, sewer and drainage districts, including the financing of related infrastructure through the issuance of bonds, bond anticipation notes, and various federal and state funding programs.
Represented numerous municipalities in connection with large-scale manufacturing/industrial projects. Engagements have involved all aspects of permitting, including planning, zoning, infrastructure development, and related Article 78 litigation and appeals, as well as the negotiation of tax and economic incentives.
Acted as counsel on behalf of industrial development agencies in the acquisition, financing, development and sale of agency-owned industrial parks, as well as the implementation of various New York State economic development programs, such as the New York State Governor’s Office of Small Cities Grant program, the New York State Department of Transportation Industrial Access Program and Multi-Modal Program, and various programs in conjunction with the Empire State Development Corporation.
Assisted many municipalities in the development of major capital projects, such as town/village offices, public safety facilities, highways, water treatment plants and utility systems. Engagements have involved such things as collaborating with project engineers in the design phase, the acquisition of necessary lands either through negotiation or eminent domain proceedings, the management and administration of construction contracts, and the financing of such improvements through bond sales.
Successfully represented two counties in transactions to privatize county-owned landfills. Engagements involved significant contractual negotiations, SEQR proceedings, legislative hearings, defense of Article 78 proceedings and related appeals. Transactions resulted in counties acquiring millions of dollars of new revenues sources.
Drafted local laws for numerous communities, covering such topics as the regulation of cell towers, wind turbines, solid waste, sign regulations and general zoning regulations.
Formation of Local Development Companies to assist municipalities and public agencies in economic development.
Representation of local governments in Brownfield investigations, enforcement and redevelopment matters.
Litigated numerous Article 75 proceedings concerning employee terminations and other disciplinary actions, including issuance of charges, hearing, post-hearing briefs and appeal to state court, as well as grievances involving employee discipline and other collective bargaining agreement issues.
Represented many municipal entities in litigation in both state and federal court, as well as administrative agencies (EEOC, Division of Human Rights, PERB) regarding employment discrimination claims, labor law issues, reasonable accommodation issues, and constitutional claims (such as First Amendment speech claims, First Amendment political affiliation claims and due process claims).
Represented municipalities in negotiation of collective bargaining agreements with labor unions representing municipal employees.
Successfully defended many different municipalities in a variety of litigation matters ranging from Article 78 proceedings challenging zoning decisions and other board actions, construction claims, personal injury claims and contract claims.
Assisted town and village planning boards and zoning boards of appeal in large-scale development projects, including residential subdivisions, multifamily developments and commercial development. Engagements include assistance in site plan and subdivision approvals, rezoning applications, variance applications, special-use permit applications and SEQR compliance, as well defense of such actions in Article 78 proceedings.