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Northport trustee says he received no preferential treatment in his house rebuilding

Northport trustee and former deputy mayor Tom Kehoe

Northport trustee and former deputy mayor Tom Kehoe held a news conference on Monday to respond to accusations that he received special treatment to work on his Mariners Lane house.  Credit: Johnny Milano; Photo Credit: Newsday / Yeong-Ung Yang; Daniel Goodrich

Northport trustee and former deputy mayor Tom Kehoe reiterated Monday that he received “no preferential treatment” in rebuilding his Mariners Lane house, a construction project he had undertaken without proper permits. 

"The first thing that's in the press is Kehoe got preferential treatment. He was the deputy mayor. He got preferential treatment. Nobody else would've gotten away with this. ... And I'm saying: Not true," Kehoe, who resigned over the issue last month from his position as deputy mayor, said in a news conference Monday afternoon outside Northport Village Hall. 

After a fire gutted the house in 2017, Kehoe said it was demolished last December. Excavation and foundation work were done between January and February.

Kehoe said he applied for the building permit in March. He received a verbal go-ahead from the village in January or Febuary but nothing written. The construction on his property was issued a stop-work order April 17 after the village zoning board of appeals issued a decision finding the foundation and side entrance noncompliant with his submitted plans.

The foundation was too close to the lot lines according to the foundation survey. But that turned out to be a mistake on the part of the surveyor, according to Kehoe. 

In a letter Friday, Eric Fauser, the president of Fauser Associates, who conducted the survey, wrote that an error was made “in the drafting of the actual survey instrument that resulted in incorrect offsets being listed in the Foundation Location Survey.” 

On the issue of the side entrance, Kehoe said his architect, George Suddell, had presented building exhibits, which included the side entrance, to village officials on his behalf in May 2018. 

“Now what happened? The village building department didn't catch it. The [zoning board of appeals] didn't catch it. I didn't catch it,” Kehoe said, adding in a telephone interview that he missed the fact that he had not received an approval from the village for the side entrance.

The trustee said he has applied for a demolition permit to take out the side entrance.

“Sometimes municipal officials make mistakes. They're not perfect,” Kehoe’s lawyer Chris Modelewski said Monday. “Somebody inside the building either made a mistake or didn't recognize that structure was proposed or had misunderstood the application of the statute.”

In a note posted April 23 on the village website, Mayor Damon McMullen announced that trustee Jerry Maline was the new deputy mayor.

Kehoe, who also served as a trustee from 2006 to 2014 and was the Northport police commissioner from 2008 to 2014, said he does not intend to step down from his trustee seat.

“In summation, this has been very unpleasant. It’s been unpleasant for the mayor and my colleagues on the board. … It's been very unpleasant for my neighbors,” Kehoe said.  “I think I've served honorably, and I plan to keep serving out the rest of my term.”

Several of Kehoe’s neighbors were at the news conference Monday but declined to comment, adding they will speak at the village’s board of trustees meeting at 6:30 p.m. on  Tuesday at Village Hall at 224 Main St., Northport.

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