Richard L. O’Rourke serves as trial and appellate counsel in state and federal courts, and represents clients before federal, state and local boards and agencies. He has served as lead counsel to many municipalities, property owners and land development companies in the Hudson Valley and Long Island. Having been with Keane & Beane for over 40 years, he has an extensive network of contacts in both public and private sector that inures to the benefit of clients. Rated preeminent by Martindale Hubbell for over 30 years, Mr. O’Rourke has received awards and proclamations for his accomplishments in litigation, negotiation, land use and environmental impact.
Mr. O’Rourke’s representation of clients as Lead Counsel in complex and controversial litigations has resulted in favorable outcomes. He represented a land development company in a landmark land use case decided by the New York State Court of Appeals, Riverkeeper Inc. v. Planning Board of Town of Southeast, 9 N.Y.3d 219, 851 N.Y.S.2d 76 (2007), which found no further environmental review under SEQRA was necessary as the requisite “hard look” had been undertaken by the planning board. In addition, he successfully represented the Village of Ardsley and its Mayor in the multi-jurisdictional dispute arising from the utilization of Sprain Road in the Town of Greenburgh and City of Yonkers, Matter of Samuel J. Abate Jr., et al. v. City of Yonkers, et al., 264 A.D.3d 517, 694 N.Y.S.2d 724 (2d Dep’t 1999), leave to appeal dismissed, 94 N.Y.2d 834, 703 N.Y.S.2d 66 (1999).
Mr. O’Rourke has met with equal success as Lead Counsel in obtaining land use and zoning approvals for large projects without the need for litigation. For example, in 2021 a 630,000 square foot Amazon warehouse received all required approvals in six months in East Fishkill, NY. In 2017, all approvals in Dutchess County were obtained for a $1.675 billion electric manufacturing facility using natural gas that will generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity (half that generated by Indian Point). In Putnam County, a state of the art vehicle maintenance and prep center for a leading car dealership gained approval on 13 acres, which also involved zoning amendments, site plan approval and special permits. In Ulster County, a 135,000 square foot home improvement center was approved. And in Westchester County, a 128,564 square foot building and parking structure received all necessary approvals, without the need to prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and without litigation.
Mr. O’Rourke was Village Justice for the Village of Brewster, NY, first elected in 1992. In 2021, after more than 27 years as a Judge presiding on thousands of cases — ranging from dental malpractice, municipal code violations, felony arraignments, to landlord-tenant proceedings and jury trials — he retired so as to apply those experiences totally to serving his clients through Keane & Beane. From 1986 to 1989, on behalf of Keane & Beane, he served as Town Attorney of the Town of Southeast, NY. From 1983 to 1986, he was a member and Chairman (1985 to 1986) of the Zoning Board of Appeals for the Town of Southeast.
Mr. O’Rourke joined Keane & Beane directly from law school, having previously worked in university administration.
Mr. O’Rourke is a frequent lecturer on topics related to land development, litigation and zoning for the New York State Bar Association and the Westchester County Bar Association and the Westchester Municipal Planning Federation, including “Zoning Code Interpretations”, “Redevelopment and Economic Development After Kelo”, “Administration and Enforcement of Land Use Controls”, “Litigation Update – Land Use and Related Topics” and “New York Environmental Law Practical Skills – State Environmental Law and Land Use Regulation.”
He is co-author with Edward J. Phillips of “Riverkeeper v. Planning Board of the Town of Southeast: The Court of Appeals Reminds Lower Courts Not to Second-Guess SEQRA Determinations”, New York State Bar Association Journal (July/August 2008). He is also author of “Variance Applications and the Zoning Board of Appeals,” Westchester Bar Journal (1985)
Mr. O’Rourke is a member of the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University Board of Visitors. He also serves on the Executive Committee, formerly Secretary, of the Board of Directors of Pattern for Progress. He is a former Member of the Board of Directors of Junior Achievement of Westchester and the Volunteer Service Bureau of Westchester. He also is a Past President and former member of the Brewster Education Foundation.
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