Good Evening
Good Evening
Long IslandSuffolk

Amityville hires law firm for downtown development contract

The Amityville Village Hall on Ireland Place in

The Amityville Village Hall on Ireland Place in Amityville Village, Tuesday, February 25, 2014. Credit: Steve Pfost

The Amityville Village board of trustees has approved hiring a law firm to work on a developer contract despite objections from two board members.

Trustees on Monday voted to hire Harris Beach PLLC of Uniondale to represent the board in a contract with a master developer for the village’s downtown. The board has not selected a master developer but last year approved the start of discussions with Tritec Development Group, part of Tritec Real Estate of East Setauket. Mayor Dennis Siry said at the time that Renaissance Downtowns of Plainview is also being considered.

The village in January sent out a request for qualifications for the legal representation and last month received responses from nine firms. The list was narrowed to the three Long Island firms considered most qualified, Siry said. They are Harris Beach; Bee, Ready, Fishbein, Hatter & Donovan of Mineola; and the Barry D. Lites law firm of Huntington. Three members of the village’s downtown revitalization committee, as well as village attorney Bruce Kennedy, chose Harris Beach, Siry said.

Siry and trustees Kevin Smith and Thomas Whalen voted to approve hiring Harris Beach, but trustees Jessica Bernius and Nick LaLota abstained. Both said they were disappointed not to have been able to interview the firms.

“We should have had discussions with all three firms,” LaLota said. “We’re entering into a probably five-year relationship with a law firm who is going to advise us on very serious matters with respect to density and zoning.”

LaLota said Siry should have recused himself from the vote because the village last March received a letter from Harris Beach stating that the firm was representing Siry in the mayoral election. Siry said he didn’t remember the representation until he was shown the letter last week. He said he did not hire the firm, but they were put on retainer by someone else. He said he did not know who had retained the firm on his behalf, but it “had absolutely nothing to do with hiring Harris Beach” for the village contract.

Harris Beach will charge the village $300 per hour for the contract work, Siry said, but the costs are expected to be paid for by the master developer.

Latest Long Island News