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James M. Burke named new Southampton town attorney

James M. Burke is seen in this undated

James M. Burke is seen in this undated photo. Credit: Newsday File

James M. Burke, a former Brookhaven deputy town attorney, was appointed town attorney in Southampton Town yesterday.

“I’ve known him for a number of years from when I was a legislator in Suffolk County,” Supervisor Jay Schneiderman told board members before recommending Burke. “He has a broad base of experience in the private and public sector.”

The board unanimously approved the appointment on a 5-0 vote during its regular session. Burke, 56, of Port Jefferson, will be paid $132,651 a year.

“Jim comes to us with an extensive legal background having worked for the New York State attorney general’s Long Island office, and we look forward to a good working relationship,” Schneiderman said in a statement after the meeting.

Burke will oversee a staff of five assistant town attorneys. Kathleen Murray, who had been acting town attorney, will resume her position as deputy town attorney.

After being sworn in yesterday, Burke’s first order of business was to take his seat on the dais for the meeting.

Burke was deputy town attorney for the Town of Brookhaven from 1992 to 1996 and again from 2006 to 2009.

From 2009 to 2011 he was senior counsel at Lewis and Johs LLP in Melville, a full-service firm where Burke was lead attorney among more than 60 lawyers.

Later in 2011, Burke began working for state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman (no relation to the Southampton supervisor) as the head attorney for the Real Property Bureau on Long Island and in New York City.

“My background has primarily been municipal law, land use and zoning,” Burke said in an interview following his appointment.

Asked some of his plans for his Southampton job, Burke said, “I want to try to manage the agricultural and open space character of Southampton and address some of the [affordable] housing issues and the need for Riverside redevelopment.”

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