Wendy A. Marsh is Chair of the Environmental and Land Use Planning Department. She concentrates her practice on representing clients to manage their business risks and opportunities in accordance with environmental laws at both the state and federal level.
Ms. Marsh advises clients on environmental and safety compliance, including permitting, compliance audits and defending clients in enforcement actions commenced by regulatory agencies, including interactions with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and local environmental authorities. She has extensive experience in assisting clients through due diligence reviews associated with transactions, both small and large, as well as refinancing activities, including developing creative solutions to address unknown environmental liabilities uncovered during such due diligence activities.
Ms. Marsh routinely assists clients, boards and developers through the myriad of remediation programs, including the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation & Liability Act (CERCLA, or Superfund Program), Inactive Hazardous Waste Program (State Superfund Program), New York State Spills Program, Brownfield Cleanup Program and Voluntary Cleanup Program. She also represents clients in pursuing and defending litigation commenced in federal and state courts seeking recovery of remediation costs expended under many of these programs.
In addition, Ms. Marsh represents clients on land use and right to build matters, such as zoning, planning and historic preservation laws. She assists municipal boards, counties and developers on compliance matters relating to applicable zoning laws, as well as compliance with the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) and federal, state and local historic preservation laws. With years of experience to this uniquely local area of law, Ms. Marsh is often retained to steer complex projects to achieve the client’s goals in a timely manner, often without the need for litigation. These projects include applications for rezoning, controversial development projects, large-scale renewable energy including wind and solar projects. Ms. Marsh routinely defends such decisions in state court.
- Marsh is often retained to resolve environmental liabilities that arise during transactions. This work involves assessing and quantifying potential environmental liabilities, as well as developing the contractual structure to resolve those liabilities. She has negotiated numerous environmental indemnification agreements, structured environmental escrow funds, and negotiated insurance contracts and other mechanisms to manage the environmental liabilities to allow a transaction to proceed.
- Regularly advise clients on the legal implications associated with environmental liabilities and the business implications associated with managing the risks involving all media, including air, water, solid and hazardous waste.
- Frequently retained to resolve numerous OSHA safety violations with substantially lower penalties achieved as part of settlement negotiations.
- Marsh represent numerous companies that handle, manage and transport petroleum. She has particular expertise in the New York State Navigation Law, and frequently defends claims made by the Attorney General’s Office commenced on behalf of the Oil Spill Fund. She is involved in all aspects of Navigation Law litigation on behalf of clients, including private causes of action among potentially responsible parties.
- Marsh provides legal guidance to complete a large-scale development project involving numerous buildings in a historic district of Upstate New York. The legal work involved compliance with local development laws, SEQRA, State Historic Preservation Act, General Municipal Law, as well as all other aspects of the legal approvals needed for significant development activities. When challenged by a local opposition group, all approvals were upheld.
- Retained as special counsel by municipal boards to review large-scale commercial wind turbine projects throughout the state. This work can involve assistance in developing a wind ordinance to regulate wind projects, but the primary focus is to assist the town attorneys in achieving compliance with SEQRA in reviewing the project, as well as assistance in negotiating the related agreements, such as road use agreements and host agreements. Also assisted municipalities in asking for local legislation to regulate large-scale wind turbines.
- Often retained by local municipalities, including Planning Boards, Zoning Boards of Appeals, Historic Preservation Boards and Code Enforcement Officers, to assist in controversial and complex projects to ensure the decision of the municipal entity can withstand judicial challenge. These cases often involve controversial zoning decisions between feuding neighbors and/or responding to organized citizen groups. Based upon extensive experience, able to assist the municipal entity in understanding the underlying legal issues associated with the controversial project, the proper process to follow and steps to undertake to document the decision and to withstand legal challenges that the decision is not arbitrary and capricious. These decisions are then defended in court when challenged.
- Frequently assist in advising on the obligations associated with owning and/or renovating property that has been deemed historic on the federal, state or local level. Regularly counsels owners on the true limitations associated with the property and educate the regulating authorities on the boundaries of such limitations in an effort to allow legal development of the properties.