Attorneys

J. Sheldon Cohen

J. Sheldon Cohen

Contract Partner

AV Preeminent Martindale-Hubbell Peer Rated for Highest Level of Professional Excellence 2020

Biography

J. Sheldon Cohen (also known as Lee Cohen) is a partner at DeCotiis, an AV rated attorney. He joined the firm in 1987 as a Partner and is a member of the Municipal, Litigation, and Labor and Employment Law practice groups.

His areas of practice include redevelopment, municipal law, eminent domain, railroad law, government and regulatory affairs, trial and appellate litigation, administrative law, and labor and employment law.

Mr. Cohen has been the Borough Attorney, Redevelopment Counsel and Labor Counsel for the Borough of Fort Lee for 17 years. Since 2015, he has also served as Township and Redevelopment Counsel for the Township of Aberdeen.

Representative Projects and Cases:

Mr. Cohen led the team of attorneys that successfully redeveloped a 17 acre site directly adjacent to the George Washington Bridge ("GWB"). This site had languished for 43 years and Mr. Cohen's team eliminated all prior claimants, including, through successful litigation, clearing the land for new development, conducted a national RFP process to choose new redevelopers, oversaw the Borough's selection process, negotiated the new redevelopers and financing agreements and brought the projects to completion. The two new, $1 billion developments include two 50 story luxury rental towers of 450 units each, two new Borough parks, parking garages, over 200,000 square feet of retail space, an additional 400 apartments, with possible additions including a hotel or office building. Construction of a public theatre-museum will close out the projects. Most recently, Mr. Cohen facilitated the addition of another investment group to one of the projects via a $43,000,000 cash sale of a portion of that project. Along with this development, Mr. Cohen is overseeing several other high, low, and mid-rise residential projects, as well as a train station mixed use project, in various municipalities, including affordable housing compliance in each residential project.

Mr. Cohen also condemned and litigated the value of the 2153 acres of Sterling Forest located in New Jersey to maintain the Forest as parkland for the County of Passaic, and derivatively, for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The settlement in that case formed the basis for the parkland acquisition of the 18,000-plus acres of Sterling Forest in New York State.

Acquisition of a privately owned electrical distribution system for the City of Vineland was another of Mr. Cohen's accomplishments. This project involved the acquisition of a portion of an electric substation, thousands of poles, two thousand miles of wire, hundreds of transformers, subsurface easements and thousands of unrecorded easements connecting property owners to the actual electrical poles.

He was also lead counsel for three railway companies in the acquisition, permitting and construction of several major rail terminal facilities, in the New Jersey Meadowlands, which now act as terminals for international "ship to rail" or "land bridge" operations.

The condemnation of the former Hoehst-Celanese chemical manufacturing facility was also Mr. Cohen's project. A Superfund site, which was acquired as the now current site of the Essex County Jail. Aside from the obvious environmental issues, the case was noteworthy because the County intended a change of use from industrial use (8 hours of allowable exposure) to residential use (24-hour exposure) and the indemnification issues thereby generated.

In a case of first impression, successfully defended the validity of an employee discharge pursuant to a "Last Chance" employment agreement in New Jersey public employment. Watson v. City of East Orange, 175 N.J. 442 (2003)

In a case of national first impression, he successfully prevailed in a constitutional (Dormant) Commerce Clause case, involving the Federal pre-emption of State legislative railroad regulatory schemes. Village of Ridgefield Park v. the New York Susquehanna Railway Corp., 163 N.J. 446 (2000)

He successfully defended the right of New Jersey counties to direct the delivery of solid waste to designated transfer stations against a Dormant Commerce Clause claim of the unconstitutionality of such direction orders. Atlantic Coast Demolition and Recycling Inc. v. Bd. of Chosen Freeholders, et al., 48 F. 3d 701 (3rd Cir. 1995) and 112 F. 3d 652 (3rd Cir. 1996)

Mr. Cohen was an Adjunct Professor at Rutgers University Graduate Institute of Management and Labor Relations (1976-77 and 1977-78). He has addressed numerous professional organizations on public and private labor and employment law issues and is the author of several articles on the subject, including:

Statutory and Derivative Public Policy Remedies [At-Will Employment], New Jersey Lawyer Magazine, November, 1984

How the Interest Arbitration Law Works and Why the Effects of Caps is Unclear, New York Times, June 3, 1979

Index and Outline of Scope of Negotiations Determinations, Rutgers, The State University, Institute of Management and Labor Relations, 1977

Mr. Cohen received his B.A. from Fordham College at Fordham University in 1971 and his J.D. from Fordham University School of Law in 1975. As a law student, he was the recipient of the Distinguished Senior Achievement Award and the Am-Jur Administrative Law Award.

Education

  • Fordham University School of Law, New York, New York
    • J.D. - 1975
    • Honors: Distinguished Senior Achievement Award
    • Honors: Am-Jur Administrative Law Award
  • Fordham College at Fordham University
    • B.A. - 1971

Bar Admissions

  • New Jersey, 1975
  • U.S. District Court District of New Jersey, 1975
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 3rd Circuit, 1978
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1988

Practice Areas

  • Municipal
  • Litigation
  • Labor and Employment

Past Positions

  • Rutgers University Graduate Institute of Management and Labor Relations, Adjunct Professor, 1976 to 1978
  • New Jersey Public Employment Relation Commission, Hearing Officer/Mediator, 1975 to 1978

Professional Associations

  • Former Councilmember, Fort Lee, New Jersey
  • Founding and Life Member, Fort Lee Ambulance Corps