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Monday, November 23, 2015

ADA/FHA Case by Owner of Drug and Alcohol Facility Not Ripe

The authority to zone and regulate land use is one of a local government’s most significant powers. Although that authority is generally derived from state statute or state constitution, it may be limited by applicable federal laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and Fair Housing Act (“FHA”). These two laws were the subject of a land use dispute between Safe Harbor, the owner and operator of an “executive retreat for individuals recovering from alcohol and drug addiction,” and the Town of East Hampton.
Safe Harbor sought approval to open its drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in a residential area in East Hampton. The Town told Safe Harbor that it would have to apply for a special permit because the use was not permitted by-right in the zoning district. Safe Harbor appealed to the Zoning Board, which agreed with the Town’s interpretation.  Safe Harbor then sued, claiming that the Town violated the ADA and FHA by not providing it with a reasonable accommodation to allow it to operate its facility on its property.
The case made its way to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Safe Harbor Retreat, LLC v Town of East Hampton, No. 15-797-cv (2d Cir. 10/23/2015).  The Town argued that Safe Harbor’s case  should be dismissed because its claims were not ripe  since it had never applied for and been denied a special permit.  The Court of Appeals agreed, and dismissed Safe Harbor’s case as unripe. The Court also determined that Safe Harbor had failed to adequately state a claim that East Hampton’s zoning regulations were discriminatory on their face or as applied to Safe Harbor. 
Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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