Court Dismisses Complaint Against Town of East Hampton On Ripeness Grounds

In Safe Harbor Retreat, LLC v Town of East Hampton, 2015 WL 918771 (EDNY 3/2/2015, the court found that Plaintiff’s case was not ripe and dismissed it without prejudice. Plaintiff had proposed an “executive retreat” for persons suffering from alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse.  The Senior Building Inspector determined that Plaintiff met the criteria of “functioning as a family unit” under the Town Code.  As a result of this determination, Plaintiff claimed to have expended substantial resources to establish the property as a community residence.

The Senior Building Inspector later reversed his position, informing Plaintiff that a special permit was required. Rather than seek a special permit from the Town’s Planning Board, Plaintiff filed an application with the Town’s Zoning Board of Appeals for an interpretation that its residents continue to be treated as the functional equivalent of a family such that no special use permit was required under the Town Code.

The District Court held that due to Plaintiff’s failure to seek a special permit, the Town had not rendered a final decision regarding Plaintiff’s use of its property. The Court also held that the Town did not have the opportunity to make an accommodation through the Town’s “established procedures used to adjust the neutral policy in question,” namely, special permit and variance procedures. As such, the Court found that Plaintiff’s case was not ripe and dismissed it without prejudice.

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