Safe Harbor Retreat (now operating as The Dunes East Hampton) attempts to establish a residential rehabilitation facility at The Rams Head Hotel in Shelter Island. Similar to what they eventually did in East Hampton, they argued that they should be able to operate without Zoning Board approval, since there would be no change of use (at that point they argued they would function as a hotel, in East Hampton they argued they would function as a single-family unit!).

Shelter Island determines that they would need a special permit.

Safe Harbor Retreat withdraws their application but not before threatening discrimination lawsuits.
Again, similar to what they’re doing in East Hampton today!


In February of 2010, The Dunes East Hampton represents to the Town that they would operate as a single family, that residents would remain there 11 months or longer while living, cooking, and eating as a single-family unit. They also state that no clinical services would be provided on-site.

Based upon this information, the East Hampton Building Department approves the use, and The Town Supervisor sends a letter to OASAS (NY State Office of Addiction and Substance Abuse Services) to assist in The Dunes application for NY State approval.

It appears that the Supervisor acted without obtaining any input or advice from the Planning Department.

On July 9, 2010, Madeline Narvilas resigned from her position as Assistant Attorney for the Town of East Hampton and was hired as Executive Director of The Dunes.

In The Dunes application to OASAS (The NYS Office of Addiction & Substance Abuse Services), it is clear that they will be providing on-site clinical care as well as 2 full-time chefs. Their initial staffing calls for 16 full-time employees including a Medical Director, Psychiatrist, 3 Counselors, a Registered Nurse, and a Licensed Practical Nurse.

December 2010

The Dunes begins operations.


On September 27, 2011, the East Hampton Building Department corrected their original response with the following: "upon further review of certain operational aspects of your facility, namely the providing of on-site clinical treatments and services, as well as the transient nature of your client’s varied residencies at the facility it is now clear that such an operation is not permitted in a residential zone without site plan approval."

After receiving no reply from The Dunes, on November 2, 2011, the East Hampton Building Department follows up with a letter stating that The Dunes was in violation of Town Code.


In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, The Dunes makes operational statements that contradict the original letter by which they obtained permits to operate. Based on an analysis of these statements, it appears that the average stay at the Dunes is 2 to 2½ months.

On January 25, 2012, in what appears to be an effort to pressure the Town of East Hampton, The Dunes has filed BUT NOT SERVED a federal discrimination suit.

The suit is baseless and is a smokescreen to cover up the misrepresentations made to the town regarding length of stay, living as a family unit, and that the facility would provide no clinical care.

The Town’s decision to now require site plan approval and special permits is stated to have been motivated by activities that are in direct contradiction of the original representations made by The Dunes. The type of client is not the issue, rather the level of commercial/medical activity in a Single Family House.

In early February 2012, the nature trail outside of The Dunes was widened and regraded without the permission of The Town Trustees who own the road.


Although Town Law Section 268 provides the Town with the power to prevent, restrain, correct or abate any illegal use, it has YET TO ACT to enforce it with The Dunes.