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Northport mayor appoints new village attorney and a second to handle other legal matters

Northport Village Mayor George Doll appointed former Huntington Town Councilman Stuart Besen the new village attorney, according to a statement issued Monday.

While Besen will handle the bulk of the village's legal work, Doll also appointed Jonathan Heidelberger, who is of counsel to a Garden City firm, as counsel to the village's Zoning Board of Appeals and the Board of Architectural and Historic Review.

The two men will replace James Matthews, who was elected to the Suffolk County District Court and will start in that role Jan. 1.

"He [Matthews] has served us well and we will miss him," Doll said in the statement. "But we are very fortunate to have two highly qualified attorneys who will ably serve the village."

Matthews made $90,000 a year, plus $150 an hour for litigation. While the role will now be divided, officials said they anticipate the total cost to the village will be the same. They are most likely to divide the pay between them with Besen receiving the bulk of it.

Doll didn't need approval from village trustees because the appointees will finish out Matthews' unexpired term. He will need trustee votes to reappoint the two attorneys in April.

Besen was defeated as a Huntington Town councilman in 2009. Since then he's found municipal work around Long Island, including his role as outside counsel for the Town of Huntington, a job that pays him $175 an hour, up to $50,000 a year. Besen is also village attorney for Port Washington North, where he makes $245 an hour, and he is outside council for the Town of Babylon at a rate of $205 per hour.

Heidelberger is of counsel to Garden City-based Frazer & Feldman LLP. He had worked as assistant village attorney for Northport, and served as attorney for the Village of Asharoken.

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