Admin hired to oversee Riverhead’s planning, building departments

The Riverhead Town Board on Tuesday hired a former Southampton Town official to oversee both its planning and building departments.

But the town’s current planning director, Rick Hanley, will retain his position, as well.

Jefferson Murphree was hired as the town’s building and planning administrator Tuesday at an annual salary of $110,000. He held a similar position in Southampton Town, where he was that town’s planning and development administrator, for 13 years.

Mr. Murphree, 54, who made $117,300 in Southampton Town, left that position in January to take a position with VHB, a Hauppauge-based private consulting firm that currently is doing a comprehensive study of EPCAL for Riverhead Town.

He was at Riverhead Town Hall on Monday, where he told a reporter he is “between jobs.”

The building department head position has been vacant since Leroy Barnes retired in May 2011. Mr. Hanley, who, at $112,962, will make more money than Mr. Murphree, will retain the title of town planning director.

Asked before Tuesday’s vote whether Mr. Hanley will report to Mr. Murphree, Supervisor Sean Walter said, “That’s a conversation I will have to have with Rick if this resolution gets approved.”

When Mr. Murphree worked in Southampton, that town also had someone working a planning director position.

Riverhead officials have sought to put building and planning under the same umbrella in order to make the permit process more efficient.

The resolution to hire Mr. Murphree was approved unanimously.

He starts this month.

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