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Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

B'khaven hires well-connected firm to defend nursing-home ruling

The Democratic Bellone administration has filed a lawsuit claiming a recent Brookhaven zoning board decision on the county nursing home was made out of “purely political motivation.” But the GOP-controlled town has hired a well-connected Democratic firm to defend them.

Brookhaven hired Twomey, Latham, Shea and Kelly to battle county lawyers over the board’s 6-0 vote to deny the county a special permit so private buyers could continue to operate the nursing home, even though the land is zoned for houses on one acre. The board ruled the county failed to show “an unreasonable hardship” to qualify for a special use permit.

One law firm partner, Tom Twomey, is a former Democratic congressional candidate and husband of former State Democratic chairwoman Judith Hope, and another, Christopher Kelly, was East Hampton Democratic chairman for 19 years. GOP State Sen. Kenneth LaValle is also of counsel to the Hauppauge-based firm.

In their deliberations, the zoning board — split 3-3 among Republicans and Democrats with one Conservative — charged it was Bellone who tried to politicize the case by having aides call to find out when members' terms run out, a move board chairman Paul DeChance called “inappropriate.” Town sources say that they expect their lawyers to call members of the board as witness to show it was the Bellone administration, not Republicans, that was intensely lobbying the board behind the scenes.

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