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East Hampton Town attorney resigning to pursue opportunities in private sector

East Hampton Town Attorney Michael Sendlenski began working

East Hampton Town Attorney Michael Sendlenski began working for the town in 2013 as an assistant town attorney. He was appointed town attorney in 2016. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

East Hampton Town Attorney Michael Sendlenski, who has been instrumental in town efforts to rein in the Montauk party scene and address housing code violations, has announced that he will resign from his post.

Sendlenski, who announced in a news release that his last day will be May 3, said he will consider opportunities in the private sector, as well as a run for Suffolk County family court judge. Assistant Town Attorney John Jilnicki will serve as interim town attorney until a permanent replacement is appointed.

“While I’ve enjoyed my five years in East Hampton Town Hall, over the past year, I’ve felt the urge to explore opportunities in a more entrepreneurial setting,” Sendlenski said in a statement.

Sendlenski's 2018 salary was $115,299. As a department head, he does not earn overtime. He supervises four assistant town attorneys, two paralegals and outside counsel working on behalf of the town. 

Sendlenski, 46, was an assistant town attorney in Southampton Town for seven years before becoming East Hampton’s assistant town attorney in 2013. He was appointed to his current role in 2016.

His announcement follows criticism from some residents and at least one town board member over a town settlement in January with Marc Rowan, the billionaire owner of Duryea’s Lobster Deck in Montauk, that will allow what was traditionally a counter service eatery and fish market to operate as a sit-down restaurant, among other stipulations.

“I don’t think we fought hard enough for the town of East Hampton, and I don’t think we fought hard enough for Montauk,” Councilman Jeff Bragman said during a Feb. 21 town board meeting.

Bragman’s remarks prompted heated comments from Sendlenski, who defended his handling of the case.

“I won’t sit quietly and let him besmirch my office,” Sendlenski said during the meeting.

The town board, which has not authorized the supervisor to sign the stipulation of settlement in the Duryea case, voted 5-0 in March to hire Carle Place law firm Sokoloff and Stern LLP with a $20,000 contract to advise the town on the matter.

Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc praised Sendlenski for his leadership. 

“In his role as town attorney over the last five-plus years, Michael Sendlenski has guided the town board through numerous complex and challenging legal situations, and his advice and leadership have been important and much appreciated," Van Scoyoc said. "I wish him the best as he leaves East Hampton Town to seek new and different career opportunities.”

Sendlenski said Monday that his decision to resign has nothing to do with the reaction to the Duryea case and said that he has been considering leaving the town for some time.

He highlighted code enforcement actions taken at overcrowded homes and a 2016 jury verdict that found operators of the former Cyril’s Fish House in Montauk guilty of 45 out of 47 misdemeanors relating to an illegal expansion as wins during his tenure with the town.

“I’ve devoted almost 20 years of my life and career to public service,” Sendlenski said. “I want to preserve this place for people who know how to use a clam rake.”

David Buda of Springs, a frequent presence at town board meetings, described Sendlenski as a hardworking professional despite Buda’s often public critiques of town government, including in the Duryea case.

“He has always been extremely competent and professional and hardworking to the nth degree,” Buda said.

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