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Board OKs study aimed at curbing East Hampton Airport noise

East Hampton Airport in Wainscott, is seen in

East Hampton Airport in Wainscott, is seen in this photo taken on Nov. 16, 2016. Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

The East Hampton Town Board voted Thursday to move forward with a multimillion-dollar federal process to enact local restrictions on the town airport in a last-ditch effort to curb airport noise.

The town board authorized outside law firm Morrison & Foerster and noise consultants HMMH to prepare and file a Part 161 study with the Federal Aviation Administration. It also approved increasing legal fees by $100,000.

A Part 161 study, which includes a cost-benefit analysis of proposed restrictions and a noise analysis, could cost East Hampton between $1.5 million and $2 million and take about two to three years to complete, Bill O’Connor, of the international law firm Morrison & Foerster, said last month.

With Councilman Fred Overton absent from the meeting, the other four members all supported the Part 161 resolution.

Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez said the board decided to move forward after getting support from airport-related groups, including the East Hampton Aviation Association.

“We’ll need to decide what restrictions we want to look at,” she said, noting the board will also look at noise mitigation factors that are not restrictions. “We’ll be engaging all stakeholders.”

The next step is to hire an economic consultant through a bidding process, Burke-Gonzalez said.

Other municipalities have spent millions of dollars and up to a decade of work on Part 161 studies without success. Of 10 Part 161 applications, only one — filed by Naples, Florida — resulted in some local restrictions, O’Connor said.

The cost of the application will be funded by airport revenue, not from the general town fund, officials said.

The move comes four months after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review town officials’ bid to reinstate airport curfew laws, which were struck down by an appellate court in November 2016.

George Dempsey, a town resident, said he would rather the town spend millions to fight the opioid epidemic instead of a problem that only occurs 10 weekends a year. He also noted that future technological advances might quiet the airport.

“It’s going to take years to fight it,” Dempsey said of federal airport rules. “Those millions should be spent here.”

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