Richard S. Finkel
Richard has extensive experience in the areas of municipal law, land use and zoning, litigation and labor and employment matters.
After 16 years representing individual and corporate clients on Long Island, and handling the defense of labor law and negligence claims for such entities as the New York State Insurance Fund and the Town of North Hempstead, Richard was appointed to the office of North Hempstead Town Attorney in 2004. He held that position for eight years, supervising eight in-house attorneys and managing outside counsel while representing the Town Board, the Board of Zoning and Appeals, the Board of Ethics and the Solid Waste Management Authority.
Amongst his most recent accomplishments, Richard obtained a significant victory for his client in Town of North Hempstead v. County of Nassau, 2011 NY Slip Op. 32266 (U) (Nassau Co. Sup. Ct., Parga, J, Docket No. 6734/11). The decision has the potential to provide meaningful budgetary relief for many municipalities across the State, as it limits the ability of counties to pass down Fashion Institute of Technology expenses to towns and cities under the auspices of the New York State Education Law. Pursuant to the order, any pass down of F.I.T. costs is restricted to those expenses attributable to two year programs and degrees, and may not include costs associated with a Town resident's enrollment in F.I.T.'s baccalaureate and Masters Degree programs. The decision is currently on appeal to the Second Department. The implications of the case are widespread, and as a result, the appeal has inspired amicus curiae filings on either side of the issue by municipalities across Long Island, as well as by F.I.T. The case was also cited in support of proposed legislation introduced in the New York State Senate which, if adopted, would eliminate any community college charge backs against towns and cities. S 7152, 235th Leg. Sess. (NY 2011).
Richard handled all aspects of employee disciplinary proceedings as Town Attorney. In addition, he investigated and defended discrimination and harassment complaints before the New York State Division of Human Rights and the EEOC; presided over the Town's Labor-Management Committee where he considered and resolved union grievances; defended complaints brought before the New York State Public Employee Relations Board; and served as lead negotiator for the Town in collective bargaining sessions.
In his role as counsel to both the Board of Zoning and Appeals and the Town Board, Richard successfully litigated numerous land use matters, from the trial courts up through the Court of Appeals. Representative appellate decisions include the following:
- Gebbie v. Mammina, 13 NY3d 728 (2009)[Court of Appeals reversed the Appellate Division, Second Department, and restored the Zoning Board's decision. The case was identified in a December 2009 New York Law Journal article as one of the ten most significant land use cases rendered that year];
- Greencove Associates, LLC v. Town Board of the Town of North Hempstead, 87 AD3d 1066 (2d Dept. 2011)[Second Department affirmed the Town Board's imposition of stricter than Code-required square footage and buffer width requirements in granting conditional site plan approval];
- 886 Flushing Avenue Corp. v. Board of Zoning Appeals, _AD3d_ (2d Dept. 2010)[Second Department affirmed Zoning Board's denial of lot width variance where proposed lot sizes would have been inconsistent with character of the community];
- Genser v. Board of Zoning Appeals, 65 AD3d 1144 (2d Dept. 2009)[Reversing the trial court, the Second Department rejected petitioner's vested rights claim and reinstated Zoning Board's denial of area variance application];
- Westbury Laundromat v. Mammina, 62 AD3d 888 (2d Dept. 2009)[Second Department reversed the trial court, rejected vested rights argument, and supported Zoning Board's denial of use variance application];
- 1215 Northern Blvd. v. Board of Zoning Appeals, 63 AD3d 1071 (2d Dept. 2009) [Second Department affirmed Board's interpretation of zoning code and denial of requested variance];
- North Shore FCP, Inc. v. Mammina, 22 AD3d 759 (2d Dept. 2005)[Second Department affirmed Board's denial of conditional use permit due to safety concerns with site layout].
Richard also supervised and participated in the defense of hundreds of negligence claims. Representative is Gill v. Town of North Hempstead, 83 AD3d 777 (2d Dept. 2011), a premises liability case in which the Appellate Division reversed the trial court and granted summary judgment dismissing the claim in the absence of any demonstrated actual or constructive notice.
Honors and Affiliations
- Listed in:
- Martindale-Hubbell®, AV Preeminent Rated
- 2013 Top Rated Lawyer in Land Use and Zoning
- New York State Bar Association
- Nassau County Bar Association
- Member, Hofstra Law Review