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Northport hotel developer's lawsuit against village can proceed

Developer Kevin O'Neill at the construction site for

Developer Kevin O'Neill at the construction site for a proposed hotel in downtown Northport on Dec. 11, 2020. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

A Suffolk County Supreme Court judge denied a request from Village of Northport trustees to throw out a lawsuit filed against them over the cost of a building permit fee.

Developer Kevin O’Neill, who owns 225 Northport LLC with Richard Dolce, sued the village and its officials in August 2020 over the permit fee paid to build a 25-room, 24,677-square-foot boutique hotel on Main Street.

The developers said village officials miscalculated the fee by using an unauthorized formula that calculated the fee to be $87,130. According to the lawsuit they/ are seeking at least $57,000 and as much as $74,000.

But O'Neill paid in protest because he wanted to keep the project moving. Filing under protest suggests that a lawsuit is forthcoming.

Village officials argue that the code was applied correctly and fairly using the information provided by O’Neill’s architect; the developers signed a separate agreement in November 2019 agreeing to reimburse the village for the cost of hiring an outside engineering consultant; and the developers did not exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit.

Judge Marian Tinari didn’t agree with the village’s arguments and in a June 30 decision denied the village's request because "respondents have failed to meet the requisite statutory burden."

O’Neill said he’s not surprised that the judge shot down the village’s claims, but that he does not consider the judge’s decision as any type of victory.

"While we’re pleased with the results it shouldn’t be happening in the first place so it’s kinda awkward to be happy about any of this," O’Neill said.

The developers paid $87,130 for a building permit to construct the hotel, which will have three floors, a basement and parking on the corner of Main Street and Woodside Avenue.

O’Neill said that based on calculations his architect used employing the village’s own fee schedule, the permit cost should have been $28,697.

The developer added that the fee calculation is unlawful because village officials are not following the fee schedule in Northport's detailed and comprehensive code that is supposed to be applied.

Village Mayor Damon McMullan said he doesn’t agree with the court's decision.

"But it’s the judge’s decision so the case will proceed and we’ll move on from there," he said.

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