East Hampton Town officials and anti-noise advocates said they are heartened by a recent U.S. Supreme Court order in their airport curfew case, yet worried about the first summer in three years with no flight restrictions in place.
Town officials filed a petition to the court on March 6 in an effort to reinstate laws that restricted late-night and early-morning flights at the Wainscott airport. Officials said the laws cut down on noise.
The town announced Wednesday that the Supreme Court ordered the group of aviation associations and allies that sued the town over the curfew laws in April 2015 to file a brief opposing the town’s court petition by May 19. Town officials will then have two weeks to file a reply to the brief.
“I think that we’re pleased the court has asked them to respond because that means they’re considering the petition that we filed,” East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said Friday. “Obviously, the court could have dismissed the petition outright, but they’re obviously considering it.”
Opponents of the voided laws, led by the group Friends of the East Hampton Airport, sued the town, arguing the curfew rules were illegal. A federal appeals court sided with the aviation groups in a 3-0 decision in November, forcing the town to throw out the laws.
Friends of the East Hampton Airport did not respond to several requests for comment.
This summer will mark the first since 2014 that East Hampton will have no curfew regulations to curb airport noise. Cantwell said the town has met with helicopter users and asked them to “comply voluntarily” with curfews established in 2015 and 2016. He added that he is “very concerned that without any mandatory restriction, the noise problem will continue to be a serious issue for the residents.”
Kathy Cunningham, chairwoman of the Wainscott-based Quiet Skies Coalition, said her group worries that noise will increase from the airport without curfew rules.
“We’re shaking in our boots,” Cunningham said. “We have nothing [to regulate noise]. We have absolutely nothing.”