A public hearing Thursday night over whether the East Hampton Town Board should seek federal funds to pay for a new deer fence around its municipal airport turned into a wide-ranging debate on the future of the airport, how to deal with noise and traffic generated by aircraft, and whether the town or federal government is best-equipped to run the airport.
Two competing groups — the East Hampton Airport Alliance and the Quiet Skies Coalition — have been repeating those arguments for weeks in local papers, the latest round in a decades-long debate over aircraft noise in East Hampton.
About 150 people turned out for the hearing, which lasted about three hours. Town Councilman Dominick J. Stanzione said that, in the end, 41 people spoke in favor of the proposal while 16 opposed it.
The battle over how to run the airport heated up earlier this year when the town decided to have the FAA install a summer control tower at the 600-acre airport.
Stanzione said the plan to seek money from the FAA — the town’s first new application for a grant from the FAA in a decade — has taken on symbolic meaning for those who want the town to strictly limit airport use.
No vote was taken Thursday night on the proposal to seek funding for the new deer fence, which a town engineer estimated would cost around $70,000 to design and $400,000 to $500,000 to build. A vote on seeking the grant is expected by the end of the year, Stanzione added.