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Schumer to FAA: Stay out of East Hampton aircraft controversy

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

Sen. Charles Schumer on Thursday urged Federal Aviation Administration officials to stay out of East Hampton's aircraft noise controversy and forgo its support of a temporary restraining order to prevent implementation of the town's summer aircraft noise laws.

Schumer (D-N.Y.) made his comments in a news release and said the FAA has no place in the fight because the Town of East Hampton no longer receives funding from the agency.

A U.S. District Court judge is expected to decide today whether East Hampton's summer noise regulations can go into effect or if an injunction should be granted while a lawsuit filed by Friends of East Hampton Airport plays out in the courts.

"The FAA is creating an unnecessary amount of turbulence over control of the East Hampton Airport," Schumer said. "They should honor their prior position on nonintervention and let the Town defend the regulations on their own legal merits."

He added, "The Town of East Hampton is already trying to cope with the challenge of managing aircraft noise, and it doesn't need more background noise from the FAA."

When asked for a response, FAA representatives issued this statement: "The FAA will respond directly to Senator Schumer."

Residents from the Town of East Hampton and surrounding areas have complained about the sound of airplanes and helicopters flying low overhead during the summer months when activity around the town-owned airport increases dramatically.

In April, East Hampton adopted three laws to address the noise problem. One banned all flights between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. Another created a curfew for especially noisy aircraft from 8 p.m. to 9 a.m. The other law limited aircraft to one trip each week between May and September.

In a letter sent Wednesday to FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta, Schumer noted the town had ties to the FAA until last year, when local officials decided to stop receiving funds from the FAA, including funding from the federal Airport Improvement Program.

"The town deliberately took these steps so that they would have the legal standing to implement and enforce these new ordinances without violating FAA rules," Schumer said in the letter.


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