Elizabeth
Knauer

Principal

Elizabeth
Knauer

Principal

Elizabeth’s broad litigation experience includes various matters relating to environmental contamination and claims for recovery of associated costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), the New York State Navigation Law, and other statutes; environmental permitting standards; administrative law; and contractual provisions.  She has litigated at the trial court and appellate level in both state and federal courts for nearly two decades.  She frequently defends land use and other determinations made by municipal and state agencies when legal challenges are filed on environmental grounds.

Elizabeth’s practice also focuses on environmental impact assessment and litigation under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). She has advised both governmental and private clients on the environmental assessment of, and other environmental issues related to, projects ranging from major transportation projects to small affordable housing developments.

Elizabeth advises clients with respect to environmental permitting and enforcement actions, and negotiates on their behalf with governmental agencies.  She has helped secure federal and state permits for waterfront work for a variety of development projects as well as industrial operators.

Litigation

Queens West Development Corporation

Location: Long Island City, NY | Date: 2014

SPR represents Queens West Development Corporation (QWDC), a subsidiary of New York State's Empire State Development (ESD), in connection with New York's largest mixed use public-private development. During the early planning stages of this major initiative to redevelop a 74-acre area of the Long Island City waterfront, the firm provided environmental and land use counsel to the Urban Development Corporation (now d/b/a ESD) in connection with development of the General Project Plan and the environmental impact statement (EIS) process. It subsequently represented ESD in successfully defeating litigation challenging the adequacy of the EIS. The firm has handled all waterfront permitting issues for the development of parks and the waterfront esplanade, which involved obtaining permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and other agencies.

The firm represented QWDC over CERCLA action for response costs and settled. The firm assists in connection with all aspects of remediation of legacy contamination from the area's long and varied industrial uses, including remedies under auspices of either the State's Voluntary Cleanup Program or the Brownfield Cleanup Program, recently representing QWDC in a case over response costs. The litigation recently settled.
Development And Land Use

Columbia University Manhattanville Expansion

Location: New York, NY | Date: 2010

SPR represented the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), an involved agency in the environmental review of the rezoning of a 35-acre portion of Manhattanville in West Harlem, a rezoning which facilitated Columbia University's proposed expansion on 17 of the 35 acres. The Columbia University development created a new 6.8 million square foot graduate campus in West Harlem that is to include state-of-the-art educational and academic research facilities, publicly-accessible open space, and other significant elements. SPR assisted in the preparation of the rezoning's environmental impact statement and ESDC's General Project Plan pertaining to the Columbia project, and won the litigation challenging the project through the Court of Appeals.
Litigation

New Hope Power Company

Location: South Bay, Florida | Date: 2010

The firm represented the Company and won summary judgment in the Southern District of Florida, which enjoined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from applying rules pertaining to its regulatory jurisdiction over certain former wetlands.  The Court held that the Corps, by relying only on its own internal memoranda, had failed to properly promulgate the rules through the notice-and-comment rulemaking procedures required under the Administrative Procedure Act.  The decision has wide import, as it directly affects approximately 700,000 acres within the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA), and other hydrologically-managed lands nationwide for which non-agricultural uses may be proposed.
Litigation

City Point

Location: Brooklyn, NY | Date: 2013

On behalf of project developers, SPR obtained dismissal of claims in New  York County Supreme Court brought under the State Environmental Quality Review Act to challenge the mixed-use City Point project in Downtown Brooklyn by community group and labor unions on statute of limitations and standing grounds.  SPR also advised the developer with respect to subsequent environmental review of project modifications.
Environmental Review

Victoria Theatre Redevelopment

Location: New York, NY | Date: 2013

The firm advised the Empire State Development Corporation with respect to the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement for the redevelopment of the site of a historic theater in Harlem with cultural uses and market rate and affordable housing.
Litigation

2800 Hylan Blvd., LLC v. Motiva Enterprises

Location: New York, NY | Date: 2009

With the help of the firm, the client obtained judgment after bench trial awarding lost rent and attorneys' fees under the New York Navigation Law to the owner of a property contaminated by a gasoline service station.
Environmental Impact Review/Permitting

Muss Development – Prince’s Point

Location: Staten Island, NY | Date: 2001

SPR represented Muss Development Corporation with respect to a proposed large-scale residential development on Prince's Point, which borders Staten Island. Shortly after Muss purchased the property, it was discovered to be seriously contaminated with hazardous wastes from historic uses, resulting in its listing as an Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Site under the State Superfund Program. SPR provided legal advice pertaining to the remediation of the site, which took many years to complete, and then provided representation concerning State Tidal and Freshwater Wetlands permitting and associated environmental issues.

Development And Land Use

Bronx Terminal Market

Location: Bronx, NY | Date: 2004

SPR represented the Related Companies' affiliate Related Retail Corporation with respect to the proposed redevelopment of the current site of the Bronx Terminal Market on the Harlem River, as a large-scale retail facility including a hotel. SPR provided legal advice with respect to the site's participation in the Brownfield Cleanup Program, into which the project was accepted in late 2004. SPR also advised the client with respect to waterfront permitting issues and other environmental matters.

Environmental Impact Review/Permitting
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Litigation

Hudson River Park

Location: New York, NY | Date: 2013

From its inception, SPR has served as environmental and litigation counsel to the Hudson River Park Trust on major proposed projects in Hudson River Park, most recently Pier 54 and Pier 57.  Pier 54 will be reconstructed as “Pier 55,” a distinctive pier offering world-class recreation and performing arts events, with the support of a $200 million donation from the Diller/von Furstenberg Family Foundation – the largest gift to a public park in the history of New York State. Pier 55 was the subject of litigation in state and federal court for over two years, during which SPR successfully overcame a challenge to the Trust’s environmental review and a challenge to the permit issued by the DEC (as co-counsel with the State). SPR also helped the Trust obtain new permits after the donor terminated and then restarted the Project. Pier 55 is now in construction, as is Pier 57.

Development And Land Use

New York Yankees

Location: Bronx, NY | Date: 2009

Sive, Paget & Reisel represented the New York Yankees in connection with the development of the new Yankee stadium in the Bronx. The project also included the construction of additional parking facilities, and the creation of new parkland and recreational facilities at and in the immediate vicinity of the existing stadium, as well as along the Harlem River waterfront. The firm successfully defended the New York Yankees in the lawsuit that challenged the environmental review and parkland aspect of this project.

 
Environmental Review
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Permitting and Litigation for Government-Sponsored Developments

Bayonne Bridge Navigational Clearance Program

Location: Bayonne, NJ | Date: 2014

SPR represented the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (“Port Authority”) with regard to the environmental review and permitting of this project, which will raise the vertical clearance of the Bayonne Bridge over the Kill van Kull for larger container vessels. The environmental reviews were under NEPA, SEQRA and CEQR, as well as Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (“NHPA”). Permits from the United States Coast Guard, NYSDEC, and NYSDOT. The Firm also represented the Port Authority in the successful defense of federal litigation under the Administrative Procedures Act challenging the Environmental Assessment for the project.
Development And Land Use

Pier 57 Redevelopment

Location: New York, NY | Date: 2014

As counsel to the Hudson River Park Trust, the firm assisted in the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement for the redevelopment of Pier 57 in Hudson River Park, resulting in approval of the project by the New York City Planning Commission and City Council.
Environmental Impact Review/Permitting

Willets Point Development Project

Location: Queens, NY | Date: 2008

SPR was retained by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) to serve as environmental counsel for the preparation of a Generic Environmental Impact Statement for the City of New York's proposed redevelopment of a 61 acre parcel in Willets Point Queens. The Willets Point project is a proposed redevelopment of a substandard and underutilized industrial area into a lively, mixed-use, sustainable community and regional destination. Besides the GEIS, the Firm assisted the City in other aspects of the proposed project, including hazardous waste remediation and environmental issues relating to the purchase of existing parcels within the project area and the parcels to be utilized to relocate existing businesses. The project, which required the rezoning of the area and adoption of an urban renewal plan, was approved in the Fall of 2008.
Environmental Impact Review/Permitting

East River Realty – First Avenue Project

Location: New York, NY | Date: 2013

SPR represents East River Realty Co., LLC, as lead environmental counsel associated with the redevelopment of four parcels of property located along the First Avenue on the east side of Midtown Manhattan, which were the former location of Consolidated Edison's Waterside Generating Station. East River Realty intends to construct a significant, high-rise development on the site. As counsel to the project, SPR prepared the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) required for the sale of the property from Consolidated Edison, and is presently steering the proposed development through the New York City urban land use review procedure and the concomitant EIS process for the development plan. Moreover, SPR has overseen the challenging clean-up of the major former industrial site, including obtaining a Brownfield designation for the site.

“Wetlands Regulations: Considerations for Project Developers,” co-written with Mark A. Chertok

For: Lexis Practice Advisor Practice Note

December 2018

“Environmental Impact Review in New York,” co-written with Mark A. Chertok

For: Michael Gerrard, ed.; Matthew Bender, pub, Chapter 8A

2017

“Soil Vapor Intrusion in the Workplace,” co-written with Steven C. Russo

For: New York Law Journal

July 16, 2007

“Defending Citizen Suits,” co-written with Daniel Riesel and Steven C. Russo

For: 47 Chemical Waste Litigation Reporter 708

April, 2004

“Defense Perspectives on Environmental Citizen Suits,” co-written with Steven C. Russo

For: X Widener L. Rev. 395

2004

“Litigating the Administrative Law Case,” co-written with Daniel Riesel

For: 22 EPA Admin. L. Reporter 175

August, 2003

“Views Vary on Environmental Justice – Communities Try to Use Federal Laws to Keep Out Polluting Facilities,” co-written with Steven C. Russo

For: New York Law Journal

December 17, 2001

Empire State Development Sells Former Arthur Kill Correctional Facility for Redevelopment as Film Studio

On August 7, 2017, Empire State Development (ESD) consummated the sale of State-owned surplus property on Staten Island formerly housing the Arthur Kill Correctional Facility to Broadway Stages, an owner and operator of film and television studios.  SPR principal Elizabeth Knauer advised ...

Harvard Law School, J.D., 1999, Cum Laude

Fordham University, B.A., 1996, Summa Cum Laude

New York, 2000

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

New York City Environmental Control Board Water Specialist, 2011-present

Board of Trustees, The Co-op School, Brooklyn, New York, 2016-present