Good Afternoon
Good Afternoon
Long IslandSuffolk

Judge: Gene Cook case to be heard elsewhere

Huntington Town Councilman Gene Cook is shown in

Huntington Town Councilman Gene Cook is shown in this photo from Sept. 30, 2009. Credit: Pablo Corradi

A court case triggered by a Huntington investigation into a property owned by Councilman Gene Cook and partners will be heard outside of town, court officials said yesterday.

Attorney Edward Guardaro Jr., outside counsel for the town, moved Wednesday to have the case relocated, given Cook's local political ties.

Edward Yule, the Northport-based attorney representing Cook and his partners, opposed moving the case.

But after the judge on the case recused himself, court officials said the case would be moved.

Judge C. Stephen Hackeling, of the Third District Court in Huntington, cited Cook's past endorsement of him as the reason he withdrew.

The next step is for Suffolk County Supervising Judge Glenn A. Murphy to determine which district court will take the case. It could be weeks or months until the next court date.

The case is focused on 792 Larkfield Rd. in East Northport, a multifamily building Cook and his business partners -- Huntington real estate agent Tim Cavanaugh and Commack attorney Josh Price -- purchased last fall.

Town officials filed two summonses in April, alleging the owners, TGJ LLC -- named for the first initials of Cavanaugh, Cook and Price -- allowed work on external stairs without a permit or a certificate of occupancy.

Guardaro, of the Westchester office of Kaufman Borgeest & Ryan, was hired by the town to avoid the conflict of a town attorney investigating a town board member.

A public safety inspector has said the owners of the house, which is in a single-family zone, must go before the town zoning board of appeals to resolve whether its current multifamily status is legal.

Cook and his partners have maintained the house is legally multifamily and does not require an inspection.

Properties built prior to the town's zoning code -- such as 792 Larkfield -- are allowed to remain as is, even if they do not comply with zoning law. But the grandfathered status no longer applies if owners make major changes to the property's structure or use.

Town officials have been unable to determine if such changes have been made because they have not been granted access.

Huntington officials have a decades-old file on the house.

Latest Long Island News