Syracuse University, College of Law
(J.D., cum laude, 1992)
University of Dayton, (B.A., 1988)
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
United States District Court for the Western District of New York
United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District.
Sheila is an experienced litigator concentrating in assessment, land use, planning and zoning, eminent domain and environmental litigation. She has provided extensive guidance to municipalities in the realm of planning and zoning, code enforcement and SEQR compliance and has consistently successfully defended assessments and municipal determinations. When working with her private sector clients, she has obtained successful results challenging municipal actions relating to land use, including assessment, zoning, adverse possession and boundary disputes.
Most known for her experience in assessment litigation, she has been involved in numerous highly-complex assessment cases concerning cutting-edge land valuation issues. Her assessment cases have involved valuation of nearly all types of real property including office complexes, retail establishments, farming operations, apartment complexes, banks, nursing homes, mobile home parks, power generating plants, municipal water lines, racetracks, subsidized housing, licensed gaming operations, antique malls and manufacturing facilities.
On behalf of towns and a public authority she has commenced numerous eminent domain proceedings to enable public projects to be completed relating to improved and expanded water service, highway expansion and airport expansion. She previously represented the City of Niagara Falls in a high profile controversial condemnation action which culminated in the City’s acquisition of land necessary for the construction of a new municipal complex and, most recently, represented two Ontario County towns in condemnation actions relating to essential municipal improvements. Sensitive to the high emotions that are often involved when municipalities are acquiring real property interests, she strives to work out a resolution with property owners prior to commencing litigation.
In addition to providing guidance to municipal planning and zoning boards, Sheila also is experienced representing landowners in successful challenges to planning board and zoning board determinations. Representing a neighbor of a proposed and highly controversial “cluster subdivision,” she challenged the project based on the City of Rochester’s zoning ordinance and SEQR and ultimately obtained a court order putting an end to the project. See, Ortiz v. City of Planning Commission of the City of Rochester (Monroe County Supreme Court, index number 04/01000). Most recently, she represented a home owner challenging the re-zoning of a neighboring residential property to light industrial based on the town’s failure to comply with notice provisions and SEQR.