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From town intern to Brookhaven's top planner

Beth Ann Reilly, a native of Brookhaven, has

Beth Ann Reilly, a native of Brookhaven, has specialized in planning issues as one of Town Attorney Annette Eaderesto's top deputies. Credit: Town of Brookhaven / Jack Krieger

Beth Ann Reilly's first job with Brookhaven Town was as an intern taking calls from residents complaining about sewage and solid waste.

On Monday Reilly, a deputy town attorney until last week, took the reins of the town planning department, after the retirement last month of Tullio Bertoli, the town's planning commissioner since 2009.

Reilly, a Setauket resident who grew up in Brookhaven, has specialized in planning issues as one of Town Attorney Annette Eaderesto's top deputies. Reilly has rewritten much of the town zoning code and also has advised the town planning board.

Her law experience gives her a different perspective than Bertoli, who studied architecture at Yale. But Reilly said little will change in the way the town regulates development.

"I'm not going to change much of what we've been doing in the planning department," she said in an interview. "I know the staff. I have a great staff. They're unbelievable."

Brookhaven officials broke out in applause last Thursday afternoon when the town board voted 7-0 to confirm Reilly's appointment. The board also voted 7-0 to promote Assistant Town Attorney Jennifer Lutzer to replace Reilly.

Reilly, 41, will be paid $140,000 annually. Lutzer will be paid $120,000 a year.

Reilly worked as an intern for Brookhaven in 2002, taking calls from residents. She was hired by the town two years later when she graduated from Brooklyn Law School.

Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said Reilly is a "highly knowledgeable" attorney whose experience prepared her for her new role.

"I believe she'll do a great job," Romaine said.

Councilwoman Jane Bonner, noting that both Reilly and Lutzer were women, said the promotions were a credit to the town's hiring practices.

"There is no glass ceiling in Brookhaven," she said.

Bertoli had been praised by developers and environmentalists for shepherding big construction projects while crafting environmental protection initiatives such as the Carmans River plan. Reilly said she will continue community revitalization efforts while promoting environmental preservation.

Eaderesto said she was sorry to lose Reilly, who had supervised code enforcement efforts in the town law department. She said Reilly was an excellent administrator who would help the planning department integrate development and environmental preservation.

"I think Beth is going to bring the planning department into the 21st century," Eaderesto said.

Reilly said her personal goals were a bit more modest, but added she appreciates the trust of town officials who named her to the post.

"I'm very humbled that the town board asked me to do this," she said. "I'm from here. This is my town, where I want to be."

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