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Embattled director of Huntington's building department resigns

Huntington Town Hall at 100 Main Street in

Huntington Town Hall at 100 Main Street in Huntington. Credit: Alexi Knock

The Town of Huntington’s director of engineering services, who oversees the building department, has submitted his resignation.

Dan Martin submitted the resignation to Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci via email on June 3, with an effective date of June 20, town officials said. He did not say why he is resigning.

The building department came under criticism earlier this year when delays getting building permits that were filed in 2020 stretched into months. Lupinacci said the delays were due to several factors: the in-person and mail-in application intake process, COVID-19-related shutdowns, employee illness, an influx of applications and state-mandated limits on staffing levels.

He said things are improving.

"IT is in the process of implementing a digital program that will streamline building department operations once and for all," Lupinacci said. "The program allows such things as being able to track applications and see what outstanding paperwork is needed; all done electronically."

He added an additional permits coordinator in the building department to help get through the backlog.

Democratic town board member Mark Cuthbertson has been critical of Martin’s employment with the town, dating back to early 2018 when he was appointed deputy town attorney. Martin, 74, is a former judge and was named director of engineering services in August 2018.

"While I like Dan Martin on a personal level, his tenure as head of the department has been an unmitigated failure, which has been visited upon our residents and local businesses in the form of inexcusable delays in the processing of building permits," Cuthbertson said. "Frankly, he was set up to fail by the Lupinacci-Smyth administration since he has no engineering and building experience and was given this job as a patronage reward."

Republican Ed Smyth is a town board member and deputy supervisor.

Martin was appointed by the majority of the five-member town board in 2018 along with several other Republicans, all men, who were former political leaders or who had run unsuccessfully for an elected office.

Martin declined to comment when reached by phone.

Smyth, who sponsored the resolution to appoint Martin as director of engineering, applauded Martin’s tenure.

"The critiques of Dan Martin over the past year or so have been motivated by partisan politics," Smyth said. "He did the best of a very bad situation last year and was a steady hand."

Smyth added that the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the town’s decades old, in-person procedure, noting that though it was slow it was also efficient and ensured all boxes were checked before an applicant could move forward.

Lupinacci said Martin’s experience made him a capable director for a hectic and busy department.

"As a former court of claims judge, he helped guide the department through the pandemic and implement many changes that had been lacking and that the Petrone-Cuthbertson administration failed to implement," Lupinacci said in reference to previous Town Supervisor Frank Petrone.

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