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Across New York State municipalities face a wide range of challenges as they provide services to their residents. At Hodgson Russ our multidisciplinary municipal law team delivers value by assisting communities with the full range of legal and practical aspects of their endeavors. Led by former municipal officials, our team understands government from the inside, and provides cost effective assistance across the full range of issues, including labor and employment, economic development and public finance, zoning and land use, energy and environmental law, real property tax and eminent domain, construction project advice, as well as general municipal law, all backed by relentless advocacy for our clients in state and federal judicial and administrative forums.

Whether as general counsel, bond counsel, or as special counsel for specific projects or matters, Hodgson Russ attorneys can assist in all phases of municipal operations.

Labor and Employment Law

Our labor and employment clients include public employers with both union and nonunion workforces. The firm’s labor attorneys represent well over 100 public sector clients in the areas of contract negotiation, dispute resolution, discrimination case defense, and more. We regularly advise on matters arising from employee grievances and interpretation of union contracts. We aggressively defend employment discrimination matters in administrative and judicial forums.

We have extensive experience advising clients on compliance with New York State and federal laws and regulations concerning wage and hour laws, development of employment policies, employee discipline and discharge, and compliance with all other employment regulations affecting the employment relationship in New York State.

The firm’s labor attorneys regularly appear before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. Department of Labor, the New York Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), as well as before other state administrative agencies involved in employment matters and both state and federal courts.

Environmental Law

Municipal clients face environmental challenges for their own operations as well as in the community from private enterprises. The experienced members of the Hodgson Russ Environment & Energy Practice Group provide comprehensive legal services to municipal clients as they navigate the complex body of law and regulations designed to protect public health and the environment. Our clients face a full range of environmental questions concerning wind and solar energy siting (including Article 10 proceedings) DEC and EPA enforcement actions, managing landfills and other waste disposal operations, fuel storage concerns, deteriorating housing stock, and brownfield cleanup and reuse. We are also well versed in the requirements for environmental evaluation of property and facilities and have guided many projects through the SEQRA review process.

Our representation on environmental matters includes litigation before state and federal administrative and judicial tribunals. The group’s members advise our municipal clients on environmental compliance, OSHA compliance, insurance, and audits and potential environmental liabilities associated with transfers of assets and financing transactions. The group has experience handling matters involving SEQRA, RCRA, TSCA, CERCLA, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, toxic torts, and related insurance questions.

Hodgson Russ assists communities implementing sustainability and green energy and building programs. We provide assistance in implementing stormwater controls, energy efficiency programs, and green infrastructure implementation.

Hodgson Russ also assists communities in obtaining funding for environmental protection and remediation. The firm is well versed in the Environmental Facilities Corporation programs and grant requirements and has successfully represented communities in obtaining financing for such projects.

Land Use and Zoning

Hodgson Russ attorneys regularly provide service to municipalities in all aspects of land use and zoning matters. The firm’s services in this area include:

  • Assisting in preparation of master plans and drafting local statutes to implement master plans and other desired changes in local regulation.
  • Providing complete guidance in complying with the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). Hodgson Russ has assisted many communities in all phases of the SEQRA process, from preparation of environmental assessment forms through issuance of negative and positive declarations and drafting and review of environmental impact statements. Hodgson Russ has successfully represented numerous municipalities in litigation arising out of the SEQRA review process.
  • Providing legal representation for planning boards and zoning boards to address applications and interpret local codes and state law. Hodgson Russ has assisted in drafting decisions and statements of findings, as well as in guiding municipalities through complex approval processes.
  • Providing assistance in dealing with regulatory requirements such as historic preservation regulations and reviews by state agencies such as the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and State Office of Historic Preservation.
  • Assisting in reviewing proposals for alternative energy systems such as wind and solar farms. Efforts include drafting ordinances, reviewing specific proposals, negotiating host community agreements, and defending decisions.

Public Finance

Hodgson Russ maintains an extensive public finance practice, advising municipalities, school districts, public agencies, and authorities with respect to all aspects of their cash flow and infrastructure financings, from the structuring phase through the closing of permanent financing. In doing so, the firm’s attorneys work with the financial advisors, engineers, architects, and other professionals retained by the client, as well as representatives of the Rural Development Administration and, in New York State, the Dormitory Authority, the Environmental Facilities Corporation, the State Education Department, and other involved agencies. This team of attorneys also provides legal services to underwriters, banks, trustees, and project developers in connection with a wide range of municipal, project development, and other public financings.

The firm is listed in the Municipal Bond Attorneys section of The Bond Buyer’s Directory of Municipal Bond Dealers of the United States (the so-called "Red Book"). Hodgson Russ attorneys have acted as bond counsel or underwriter’s counsel in connection with the issuance of industrial revenue bonds, revenue anticipation notes, tax anticipation notes, budget notes, certificates of participation, statutory installment bonds, bond anticipation notes, and serial bonds.

Litigation

Hodgson Russ represents municipalities in all judicial and administrative forums, successfully litigating municipal issues at all levels, including the United States Supreme Court.

Litigation attorneys are resident in each of our offices, supported by a full complement of experienced paralegal specialists and staff. This experience and depth allows the firm to competently and efficiently handle litigation in any forum and to respond immediately to the problems or emergencies frequently encountered in the municipal setting. Litigation services include full representation at all administrative levels. The firm regularly represents clients at state agency hearings, and it provides representation for local governing boards in the permit-issuing process.

We have successfully litigated a wide array of zoning, employment, environmental, and numerous other cases for and on behalf of municipalities. Our successes include the defense of permit decisions and the environmental review process for numerous large projects throughout New York. We consistently defend town boards, planning boards, and zoning boards in connection with decisions made for their communities.

Real Property Tax Assessment

Taxes are the lifeblood of municipal government and Hodgson Russ attorneys provide skilled, practical guidance to municipalities, school districts, and counties, in all matters of real property tax administration. The firm advises county tax directors, municipal assessors, school district business managers and other stakeholders on a wide variety of real property tax issues. These issues start implementing revaluations and tax exemption applications, tax collection issues establishing and negotiating PILOT agreements, assessment grievance filings, as well as administrative and judicial proceedings at the trial and appellate level. Our experience includes former industrial lands and the complex issues raised by contaminated properties. We have worked on tax disputes involving some of the largest contaminated sites in the country. Our experience also includes working with properties that include power generation assets like wind farms and co-generation facilities, oil and gas facilities, pipelines, telecommunication towers, wineries and other agricultural properties.

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