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Suffolk judge allows Huntington Town's suit against Gene Cook

Town Board member Gene Cook, sits during a

Town Board member Gene Cook, sits during a board meeting, April 21, 2015.

A Suffolk County judge has denied a motion to dismiss Huntington's case against town board member Gene Cook and his partners in a real estate venture.

Town of Huntington officials filed two summonses on April 30, accusing TGJ LLC of code violations at an East Northport property it owns. The company is named for the first initials of Cook and his partners, Huntington real estate agent Tim Cavanaugh and Commack attorney Josh Price.

Town officials allege alterations were done to an external stairway without a permit or certificate of occupancy at 792 Larkfield Rd., which the partners purchased in September 2014.

"I was surprised that the court didn't dismiss the case, given that the town wasn't ready to proceed," Price said. "We look forward to defeating the town in this lawsuit."

Northport attorney Ed Yule moved to dismiss the town's case against TGJ last month, arguing the town's inability to produce its chief witness -- building inspector Lisamarie Walter -- denied his clients a speedy trial. They first appeared in court June 10.

State law requires those accused of a violation receive a hearing within 30 days, with extensions allowed at the court's discretion in exceptional circumstances.

Judge Linda Kevins' decision to dismiss found the delay for Walters' health issue qualified.

The attorney representing Huntington in the case, Westchester-based Edward Guardaro Jr., said Walter's health prevented her from appearing in court. But he said this week that she will be able to testify.

The two parties are scheduled to meet Oct. 29 to schedule a court date.

Properties such as 792 Larkfield Rd. that were built before Huntington had zoning laws are allowed to remain as is -- even if they do not comply with zoning laws. But that protection disappears if a property's structure or use is changed.

Cook and his partners have said the home has always been used as multifamily, although it is zoned for single family.

The town's decades-old file on the house contains contradicting information about whether it is a single or multifamily home. Walter's prior inspection reports on the home said it must be returned to single-family and/or go before the Zoning Board of Appeals to resolve its status.

The town's legal action focuses on the structure's exterior stairs.

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