November 4, 2016
Federal Appeals Court Blocks East Hampton Airport Curfews Until Lawsuit Is Settled
Publication: The Southampton Press
By Michael Wright

A federal court has ruled that the curfews imposed at East Hampton Airport over the last two summers must be abandoned until the lawsuits challenging them have gone to trial and been ruled on by another court.

The U.S. Court of Appeals, in a ruling on Friday, found that East Hampton Town may have overstepped its authority in imposing two curfews on flights in and out of East Hampton Airport.

The court agreed with the argument made by attorneys for the Friends of East Hampton Airport, a collection of aviation businesses that rely on the airport, that the town had failed to comply with the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 in adopting the curfews.

The appeals court ruling does not declare whether the town is unable to impose such rules, only that it may not be and therefore that the new rules should be held at bay until the matter is settled in court.

The curfews halted all flights into and out of the airport between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. and restricted especially noisy aircraft to between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.

The court upheld a previous injunction on a third town law that placed limits on the number of times a given aircraft could land or take off at the airport in a given week.

"The East Hampton Aviation Association appreciates the hard work and careful consideration by the court in issuing its ruling," said Kent Feuerring, president of the Aviation Association. "Aviation has been an integral part of our community for more than 80 years and we hope this ruling will allow that tradition to continue. We look forward to continuing to work with the town of East Hampton and the community to find reasonable solutions for any airport noise related concerns."

The laws, adopted in 2015, were offered by the Town Board as an effort to tamp down the noise impacts of the airport on residents living beneath flight paths. In an assessment earlier this year, consultants told the town board that the curfews had served to nudge aircraft operators toward quieter aircraft in general, reduced the number of helicopter flights and effectively ended late night flights into and out of the airport.

The town released a statement saying town officials are "deeply disappointed" at the ruling.

"Although today’s court decision places the solution to the aviation noise problem firmly at the feet of Congress and the FAA, the Town will continue to explore every available option so that the residents of the East End won’t continue to be inflicted by an unrelenting din from the skies above," the statement reads.
 
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