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GC in the crosshairs: LMDC’s Kevin Rampe Being general counsel of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation isn’t exactly a dream job. The government agency, which is overseeing the reconstruction of the former World Trade Center site, has plenty of critics. But GC Kevin Rampe is undeterred, and he knows where his first battle will probably take place. “The environmental review process,” Rampe says without hesitation. “It’s going to be critical.” The LMDC has the mandate from New York state and city governments to dole out federal funds and create a plan for the redevelopment of the Trade Center site. But even before the agency can select a final proposal, it must conduct an environmental review, a process it hopes to start in September. For Rampe, the review will be an exercise in on-the-job training. The 35-year-old attorney holds his post not because of his mastery of environmental law (he has practically no experience in the field), but rather because of his relationship with New York governor George Pataki. Rampe, who started his career as an associate at New York’s Shearman & Sterling, served as legal counsel to the governor from 1996 to 1999. Rampe had moved on to a post in the New York State Insurance Department when Pataki offered him the LMDC job in February. The attorney was caught off guard. “I had no idea [the governor's request was coming],” Rampe recalls. But now that he is in the thick of things, Rampe has quickly become familiar with the thorny legal issues that accompany a major urban project. In the environmental review process, the LMDC will have to consider a wide array of regulations-over everything from traffic concerns to neighborhood character to energy sources. If anyone from a dissatisfied developer to an angry civic group decides that any of these factors haven’t been adequately covered, the agency could find itself hauled into court. The variety of issues that LMDC must address makes it difficult to pinpoint potential legal threats. That danger isn’t lost on Rampe, who is making an effort to meet with as many interested parties as possible. In recent months he has talked to representatives of Environmental Defense, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Real Estate Board of New York, Inc., and other organizations. “It’s important . . . to take advantage of the momentum we have,” he says. “Some [development] projects have been dropped or killed because of the environmental review process.” At least the rookie knows what he’s up against.

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