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East Hampton can apply for airport deer fence funds

A deer in Heckscher State Park in East

A deer in Heckscher State Park in East Islip. (June 15, 2011) Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

A State Supreme Court Justice has cleared the way for East Hampton Town to seek more than $500,000 in federal funds to design and build a new deer fence around its municipal airport in Wainscott.

Supervisor Bill Wilkinson said the decision also ends a 20-year controversy over whether the town can use federal money for the airport.

“Now we can apply for federal money for improvements we would otherwise have to tax East Hampton residents for,” Wilkinson said.

The Committee to Stop Airport Expansion — a local group that wants to reduce or eliminate the noise and other problems associated with the busy airport every summer — had sought a restraining order to keep the town from applying for a federal grant to rebuild the fence around the 600-acre airport. The project is expected to cost about $500,000.

But town officials, along with Save East Hampton Airport — a group formed by pilots and others who use the airport regularly — went to court and asked Suffolk Supreme Court Justice John J.J. Jones Jr. to rule that there was no legal basis for him to issue such a restraining order.

In a 16-page decision issued last week, Jones ruled that the group opposing federal funding was unlikely to succeed either on its claim for an injunction or in another lawsuit, filed a year ago, challenging the town’s master plan update and its airport layout plan.

Photo: Airport officials are concerned that local deer could interfere with operations. 

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