Shinnecock Nation taps Sahn Ward enviro experts

Law of the land: Southampton's Shinnecock Nation has retained the services of one of Long Island's top environmental law firms.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

The Shinnecock Indian Nation has retained a topflight Long Island law firm to provide advice and legal representation on environmental matters.

Miriam Villani: Environmental expert.

Uniondale-based Sahn Ward Coschignano PLLC will bolster the Shinnecock nation’s land-use and ecological chops, from a legal perspective, led by partner Miriam Villani.

Villani, head of the firm’s Environment, Energy and Resources practice group, will work with the Shinnecock Environmental Department to develop laws and programs that assist the department’s mission to protect natural resources and wildlife habitat on Shinnecock lands and in the nation’s sovereign waterways.

The scope of work will include “the development and drafting of ordinances necessary to protect the environmental health and safety of the people, land, water and air within the Shinnecock territory,” according to a statement from Sahn Ward Coschignano.

Specifically, Villani – assisted primarily by Thomas McKevitt, special counsel to the Uniondale firm – will focus on protecting the environment, energy and natural resources the Southampton-based Shinnecock Nation’s territory, with particular emphasis on water resources, tribal water and land-use rights and the incorporation of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency water-quality standards and permitting approvals.

Thomas McKevitt: Special assignment.

As Sahn Ward Coschignano’s heavy hitter on all things environment and energy, Villani represents various stakeholders – including developers, corporations, municipalities and lenders – in various environmental transactions involving both federal and state law. An expert in New York State Environmental Conservation Law, state navigation laws and wetlands regulations, among other environmentally sensitive laws and issues, she is the former chairman of the Environmental Law Section of the New York State Bar Association and the current chief editor of the quarterly state bar journal The New York Environmental Lawyer.

Villani received her bachelor’s degree, cum laude, from Stony Brook University and her juris doctorate from the St. John’s University School of Law.

McKevitt is a member of the New York State Assembly (R-East Meadow), representing parts of the Town of Hempstead and the Town of Oyster Bay. An expert in municipal and telecommunications laws, he concentrates his practice in zoning and land-use planning, litigation and appeals and has represented many clients before municipal planning and zoning officials.

A former deputy town attorney for the Town of Hempstead, McKevitt earned his bachelor’s and law degrees at Hofstra University.