Denise Schoen, who first began working for the village a decade ago as the attorney prosecuting cases on behalf of the village in the local justice court, was named village attorney by the Sag Harbor Village Board in a 5-0 vote at its first work session under Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy on Wednesday, July 24.
Ms. Schoen replaces David J. Gilmartin Jr., who became village attorney under Mayor Sandra Schroeder in 2016 after Fred W. Thiele Jr. resigned from the post.
Working initially under Mr. Thiele, Ms. Schoen has been the staff attorney for the Harbor Committee, the Planning Board, the Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals at various times over the past nine years. She also has her own law office on North Main Street in East Hampton, focusing mostly on real estate transactions and land use applications before boards in other municipalities.
In addition to advising the mayor and the Board of Trustees, Ms. Schoen will continue to advise the Harbor Committee and the Planning Board and oversee justice court prosecutions. Staff attorney Elizabeth Vail will remain on the job, advising the Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Ms. Schoen’s new position pays $53,000 annually, she said. She will continue to collect hourly pay for her work with the Harbor Committee.
“I felt that we really hit it off,” Ms. Schoen said of her first meeting with the mayor early in July, “and that we have a similar view of things that need to get done in the village.”
They include, she said, “a proactive as opposed to a reactive approach to confronting the issues facing the village including water quality; adopting the revisions to the waterways law; revisiting the plan for development in the business district, with special emphasis on the waterfront parcels, and evaluating the potential for full build-out of that area and determining if that would be appropriate in preserving the village’s historic waterfront while also protecting its fragile environment.”
Ms. Schoen, 48, was born Denise Rae Neuhaus. She went to East Hampton High School, graduated summa cum laude from LIU-Southampton, and was a summa cum laude graduate of SUNY at Buffalo School of Law.
She has been married to retired Sag Harbor police officer Jon Schoen for 29 years and has two daughters, ages 16 and 20. Her mother-in-law, Joan, was the Sag Harbor clerk-treasurer for 20 years and inspired Denise to intern in local government as a college student, starting with Mr. Thiele when he was a Suffolk County legislator. She also interned as a college student in the East Hampton town attorney’s office under Cynthia Shea.
“It was only my second year in college but I was already hooked on public service,” she said.