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Judge delays ruling on East Hampton anti-noise regulations

A helicopter departs from the East Hampton Town

A helicopter departs from the East Hampton Town Airport in Wainscott, Nov. 11, 2014. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

A federal judge has postponed a key ruling on East Hampton Town's new aircraft noise regulations, delaying possible enforcement of the laws by up to three more weeks.

Judge Joanna Seybert said in a filing Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Central Islip that she would decide by June 26 whether to impose an injunction that halts the anti-noise laws this summer while a lawsuit brought by the aviation industry plays out.

Seybert said last month that she would rule by June 8, but disclosed Wednesday that she needs more time due to "the complexity of the issues involved and the impact a decision may have on the ultimate outcome of this case."

East Hampton officials said in a news release Wednesday that they would not enforce the regulations, which limit takeoffs and landings at the town's airport in Wainscott, until Seybert decides on the injunction.

The case stems from three laws the East Hampton Town Board passed on April 16 to address years of complaints over helicopter noise between Manhattan and the Hamptons: an 11 p.m.-7 a.m. curfew for all flights; an extended 8 p.m.-9 a.m. curfew for aircraft considered noisy; and a one-trip-per-week limit for noisy aircraft.

The laws were supposed to go into effect May 19, before the busy Hamptons summer tourism season began.

Friends of East Hampton Airport, a coalition of helicopter operators and their allies, sued the town April 21, arguing the rules are illegal because the federal government regulates air traffic. They asked the court for an injunction to stop the laws while the case is argued.

Town officials said Wednesday they are confident they will prevail but would continue to delay enforcement "out of respect for the judicial process."

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