Riverhead Town deputy attorney hired in Southold

William Duffy. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)
William Duffy. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

The Southold Town Board passed legislation Tuesday that allows the board to hire Riverhead’s deputy town attorney for the vacant Southold Town attorney position.

Supervisor Russell told The Suffolk Times following the 5-1 vote Tuesday that William Duffy is scheduled to start in two weeks.

Mr. Duffy, of Coram, has worked as deputy town attorney in Riverhead Town since Jan. 2011.

Prior to passing the measure, town code had previously prevented the board from accepting applications for the position from non-residents. Councilman Bob Ghosio cast the the lone “nay” vote Tuesday.

“I believe we should keep this local,” Mr. Ghosio said.

The Town Board is now able to fill non-civil service positions with people living outside of town, according to the new law.

Two assistant town attorneys have been handling the office’s workload since former town attorney Martin Finnegan stepped down Feb. 13.

Mr. Duffy, 45, Coram, has been a deputy town attorney in Riverhead Town since Jan. 2011. He’s been a lawyer for 15 years.

He’s also served as attorney to the Riverhead Planning Board and the town’s Architectural Review Board, and often is asked to draft new zoning ordinances for the town. He also has handled litigation in code violation cases for Riverhead in state Supreme Court.

This will be his first time as a lead town attorney.

“I grew up in Coram and went to Longwood High School, where I graduated in 1987,” Mr. Duffy said. “I was in the Marine Corps from 1989 to 1993, and then I went to Stony Brook University and then to Hofstra Law School.”

He worked as an assistant Suffolk County district attorney from 2001 to 2003.

“I had a private law practice, but that’s been winding down as my duties in Riverhead grew, and now I’m sure I will scale it back even more being in Southold.

The exact starting date in Southold is still being determined, although Mr. Duffy said it will probably be between March 30 and April 6.

“I want to wrap some stuff up for Riverhead so I don’t leave them in the lurch.

He said he has fond memories of Riverhead.

“I loved working there,” he said. “I think it was a great opportunity and it’s an exciting time to be working at Riverhead Town. I really love the people I’m working with, and I think the town is moving in the right direction.

Mr. Duffy said he’s excited to take over the Southold Town post and believes Southold and Riverhead face many of the same issues, such as preserving agriculture, trying to build the tax base, and dealing with increasing costs.

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with Tim Gannon