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East Hampton wants Supreme Court to hear airport noise appeal

The East Hampton Airport signage in East Hampton,

The East Hampton Airport signage in East Hampton, Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. Credit: Randee Daddona

The Town of East Hampton will petition the U.S. Supreme Court to grant a review of a recent Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision throwing out curfew restrictions at the East Hampton Airport, Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said Wednesday.

Town officials also plan to lobby federal legislative leaders to enact legislation that would provide for more local control of airports owned and operated by municipalities.

Cantwell made the announcements in a news release and said the decision to fight the Court of Appeals ruling was made after consulting with the town’s attorneys.

“We cannot let stand unchallenged a decision that completely federalizes our small community airport and strips the Town of any meaningful local control of the Town-owned airport,” Cantwell said in the release. “The import of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision is to basically federalize every airport in the United States. This is an unreasonable outcome that should be overturned.”

Cantwell said the Second Circuit decision, issued Nov. 4, defies the federal Airport Noise and Capacity Act, enacted in 1990.

“The Second Circuit’s decision substantially deviates from not only the intent and legislative history of the congressional enactment of the Airport Noise and Capacity Act, but is a complete reversal of the Court’s own prior decision in National Helicopter,” Cantwell said.

Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, the town board’s liaison for airport matters, acknowledged that the town’s fight will be an uphill battle.

“While the Town acknowledges that asking for review from the Supreme Court of the United States is an uphill fight, the outcome of the Second Circuit’s decision gives the Town no choice but to undertake this endeavor,” Burke-Gonzalez said in the news release.

The federal appeals court in Manhattan blocked three local laws aimed at reducing traffic and noise at the airport, reversing East Hampton’s officials’ efforts to respond to years of complaints made during the busy summer season.

In a 3-0 opinion, the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling blocking enforcement of a weekly limit on flights by “noisy” aircraft and helicopters, and also enjoined laws imposing separate curfews on all flights and on noisy flights.

The town failed to comply with procedures under the Airport Noise and Capacity Act that include requirements that notice and a chance to be heard be given to operators, the court said in its ruling.

Since July 2015, curfews had been instituted from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. on all flights and from 8 p.m. to 9 a.m. on noisy flights. But Judge Reena Raggi said that without federal approval they violated a statute designed to ensure that a unified national air-traffic system was not interfered with by varying local laws.


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