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May 18, 2015 12:12 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton Town Will Hold Off On Airport Restrictions For Three Weeks

A jet takes off from East Hampton Airport. FILE PHOTO
May 19, 2015 6:36 PM

East Hampton Town agreed Monday to refrain from enforcing new restrictions on air traffic at East Hampton Airport for at least three weeks.

U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert heard arguments on Monday on a request by aviation interests for a temporary restraining order against the three local laws that the town adopted in April to address aircraft noise in response to years of complaints from residents.

At the request of Judge Seybert, the town agreed instead to delay implementing the laws until next month to give the court more time to rule on a preliminary injunction. Supervisor Larry Cantwell agreed to the delay, saying it was necessary to respect the judicial process.

Judge Seybert said she would decide on the injunction on June 8. According to the town’s attorney, Peter Kirsch, East Hampton Town officials will not enforce the restrictions until then.

A preliminary injunction would prevent the town from enforcing the airport access restrictions while a lawsuit filed by a coalition of pilots and aviation groups calling themselves Friends of the East Hampton Airport makes its way through the courts. Some say that could take a long time.

“We thought the hearing went reasonably well,” Mr. Kirsch said. “The town is disappointed it had to agree to extending the effective date of the restrictions. But this is the first battle in a lengthy war.”

Several helicopter and aircraft businesses filed a lawsuit against the Town of East Hampton in April for adopting the new restrictions designed to reduce noise generated by air traffic at the airport. In that suit, they requested a temporary restraining order to block the town from putting the restrictions into effect while the case is considered.

According to a press release issued by East Hampton Town, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Schumacher appeared on behalf of the Federal Aviation Administration and indicated that the FAA also needed additional time to review the matter. The federal agency last year released the town from certain grant obligations, which allowed them to set local rules at the airport.

According to Mr. Kirsch, Judge Seybert is treating the pilot group’s request as a preliminary injunction until she makes her decision. He said, however, that the judge could set a time limit for how long the restrictions would be blocked from taking effect.

The regulations implement a curfew banning all flights between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., year-round. Aircraft classified as “noisy” are not permitted to take off or land between 8 p.m. and 9 a.m., year-round. Furthermore, aircraft classified as “noisy” are allowed only one takeoff and landing per week between May and September.

The Town Board has instituted a ban all aircraft classified as “noisy,” which would affect most helicopters and some older jets.

Kathleen Cunningham, the chair of the Quiet Skies Coalition, said on Monday that she is disappointed the town’s regulations will be put on hold.

“It’s really a home rule issue, from my point of view,” she said. “The judge listened to the plaintiffs, who were trying to make it seem like we were in violation of an act of Congress. The bottom line is, if a temporary injunction is granted on June 8, it will be a summer of hell, and it could take a year to resolve these cases, and we will have nothing at all.

“It would really be just too bad … it was right there.”

East End Leaders Unite

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. called a meeting with the East End supervisors and mayors on Friday, hoping to coordinate ways the towns and villages could aid East Hampton Town in its legal battles regarding its new airport access restrictions.

Mr. Thiele said on Monday that several elected officials across the East End have been talking about having such a discussion which prompted him to call the meeting to address what could be done.

“They feel like they have a stake in this issue,” Mr. Thiele said. “There is a general feeling amongst local governments that they should be supporting and helping East Hampton. The question is how it should be done, and obviously they want to do it in a way that helps East Hampton.”

Although no final determination was made, town and village officials agreed to have their respective town and village attorneys have a meeting to discuss what the best course of action should be.

According to Mr. Thiele, the towns and villages could either provide affidavits or evidence supporting the town or it could intervene in the lawsuit themselves.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said there was some discussion about how important the restrictions are and how the litigation could affect the well-being of all the communities represented.

“It’s very important,” Mr. Cantwell said. “Obviously their primary concern is for their communities and my priority is for the Town of East Hampton, but there is enough shared concern on the East End to support our effort.”

Jim Dougherty, the supervisor of Shelter Island Town, said the officials came to a “preliminary serious consensus” to actively explore their options.

“It highlights something that Shelter Island feels—that this is a regional issue that goes far beyond the noise and immediate airport area,” he said. “Noise from helicopters and planes flying to and from Manhattan last summer adversely affected Shelter Island.”

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With each setback to the noise affected, with each insulting flip of the middle finger, the helicopter industry and their few somewhat local shills recruit even more east end residents into the "Let's close the airport" movement. Greed is the enemy of the Airport. Greed will result in it's closure. An un-restricted HTO is simply not going to survive.
By Amelia Airport (48), East Hampton on May 18, 15 12:36 PM
You are right that greed is the enemy of the airport - your greed. You and the rest of your real estate agents and developer friends who have dressed up as "noise affected" are the greedy ones who want to close the airport to develop the land. You've always wanted that, you have repeatedly said it loudly and publically. This is nothing new. We told you we would fight back and we will continue to fight to save our little airport. In case you missed the recent polls or haven't spoken to anyone outside ...more
By localEH (427), East Hampton on May 18, 15 1:02 PM
3 members liked this comment
to localEH:


"In case you missed the recent polls or haven't spoken to anyone outside your cadre, the significant majority of east end locals SUPPORT the airport."

There has never been an objective poll about this question conducted by a respected organization. You are probably referring to he popularity contest sponsored by "Curbed Hamptons" that was the equivalent of a disc jockey asking callers to nominate their ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on May 19, 15 8:20 AM
I think a pretty strong argument could be made that there was a very objective poll on this question in the form of the last town board elections that saw a number of candidates run on this precise issue. The candidate supporting some form of airport restrictions won decisively.
By Slightmadness (19), East hampton on May 19, 15 10:19 AM
A scientific public opinion poll of EH voters done in April 2012 indicated that "88% favored FAA funds for repairing existing runways and taxiways, 77% favored using FAA funds for safety measures such as deer fencing and noise abatement measures." The nationally recognized polling company, Potholm Group, conducted the poll. It was press released by the EHAA on July 19, 2012. If the Town were truly interested in noise abatement it would, one, listen to those it supposedly represents, and two, ...more
By ANTI.bs (13), Southampton on May 19, 15 12:21 PM
1 member liked this comment
Do you not see the hypocritical irony in your relying on the "noise complaint hotline" data as incontrovertible proof that the community wants to restrict/close the airport? Isn't that hotline equally set up with "no controls to prevent tendentious finessing by vested interests"? In fact, hasn't it now been shown that the hotline complaint numbers were intentionally overinflated by the anti-airport group, with more than half the complaints coming from only 30 people and even one person making more ...more
By localEH (427), East Hampton on May 19, 15 3:16 PM
1 member liked this comment
to ANTI.bs:

The poll which you cite does not speak at all to residents' support of flight restrictions. Respondents simply affirm therein that they would like the feds to pick up the tab for airport maintenance. Who wouldn't?

to localEH:

True, noise complaints are subject to manipulation. However, they are not the only evidence of local consensus. On August 27, 2014, over 350 residents attended the EH Town Board meeting in Wainscott to protest the noise.*

Attendees ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on May 20, 15 1:23 PM
More than 900 signed the petition to keep the airport open. That is tree times the number of people who showed up at that meeting, which was highly advertised and organized by the anti-airport group. So you are right, there is lots of other evidence that the community wants to keep the airport open, safe, and operational. But a truly independent and objective poll would be nice to clearly establish that this whole issue is being created by a very very very small group of people with questionable ...more
By localEH (427), East Hampton on May 20, 15 4:48 PM
I bet Amelia Airport still wants her Starbucks coffee and wields her weed whacker and screams louder than EPNdb 91.0+ when she doesn't get her way because she can't afford such luxury so if she can't no one else should either. SNOB!! The fact that she can't tell the difference between noise and proper maintenance of infrastructure, safety over politics, Federally constructed chartered purposed airports vs. a grass nostalgia runway reeks of bias and bile.
By ANTI.bs (13), Southampton on May 18, 15 4:41 PM
2 members liked this comment
The right hands were greased with the right amount with the right people! "Money talks and B#########t walks". Money can influence anybody any time any where,........It is all about the money. One day a copter will take out a home and then maybe someone will do something about the dame copters, the person with all the money. The restrictions were going to help the North Fork to eliminated noise and stress from all the copters coming over us as they all transition to the Hamptons. We do not ...more
By ConnieDaland (2), on May 18, 15 6:22 PM
Relax with the drama on both sides! Basically no one of any import wants to close the airport. Maintenance delayed will be done. The judge will permit most of the Town's new laws to go into effect, but will enjoin some from being enforced. Both sides will complain for another ten years and life will go on.

Fiddle Fiddle Fiddle !
By Nero (301), Sag Harbor on May 18, 15 6:30 PM
While I agree with most of your statement, you are wrong about who is pushing to close the airport. Nearly every member of the town board's own appointed subcommittee on the airport have publicly stated on many occasions that they want to close it. So have most of the executive committee of the Quiet Skies Coalition and its founders. These are who the town board is receiving its guidance from. The tail is wagging this dog. Ask how many in the anti-airport group are attorneys who are making money ...more
By localEH (427), East Hampton on May 18, 15 9:07 PM
Drama Drama Drama !

Fiddle Fiddle Fiddle !
By Nero (301), Sag Harbor on May 19, 15 6:12 AM
It sounds so odd to keep hearing this argument that it is just a bunch of people "in real estate" that want to "close the airport".

homes will be constructed, bought, and sold regardless of the status of the airport, the value of these properties may vary but it seems unlikely that the area is so important that a coalition of disparate real estate interests would take time out of their already busy schedules to try to shut down an airport.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on May 19, 15 7:34 AM
For clarity, the 600+ acres of land the airport is on is right in the middle of the Hamptons centrally placed between East, Bridge, Sag, and Sagaponack is valued in it's undeveloped state at over $1Billion. It is exempt from all those partition restrictions. So an ambitious developer could easily make 20x his investment and the RE agent would make one heck of a commission. Most people think making a couple billion is worth their time.
By localEH (427), East Hampton on May 19, 15 8:58 AM
Sure, I totally agree that there is a huge potential value.

Just don't think that this is the issue we're talking about. Seems like a distraction.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on May 19, 15 10:49 AM
1 member liked this comment
Its hard to understand the vitriol animating those seeking to block the town's restrictions. The restrictions are specifically addressing a problem articulated by a considerable segment of this community. Perhaps the restrictions could be better refined... and that seems like a conversation worth having (the local pilot exception seems a good place to start) but the lawsuit takes the position no restrictions are acceptable. That makes it hard to find common ground.
By Slightmadness (19), East hampton on May 19, 15 11:44 AM
Finding common ground, I am sure, includes actually implementing the Master Plan that includes significant noise abatement measures, working with the FAA instead of against them, acknowledging the vast majority of EH voters who support FAA funding for safety measures and noise abatement, using airport funds for actual airport maintenance, working with the pilots and FBO, waste airport funds on untold number of useless noise studies, become so much a part of the problem instead of solutions to give ...more
By ANTI.bs (13), Southampton on May 19, 15 1:01 PM
Common middle ground and reasonable solutions have been the plea made by the pilot community for many years - but our plea has fallen on deaf ears. Please understand that the lawsuit is the last ditch hail mary to try to get the town board to work with the airport and pilots, to force them to be more reasonable. The conversation you describe should take place before the restrictions were enacted, not after. Yet we have been shut out of every discussion and ignored by the board. Even when presented ...more
By localEH (427), East Hampton on May 19, 15 3:39 PM
Those complaints all seem valid, but they are overwhelmingly related to funding at the airport. That seems like a separate topic that the town needs to address.

Question 1: How does the town address the very real noise concerns of the community?

Question 2: How does the town provide necessary funding to make the airport safe?

Suing the town to compel it to take FAA funding is no middle ground. FAA funding will pay for necessary improvements at the airport but ...more
By Slightmadness (19), East hampton on May 20, 15 12:39 PM
Remember there are two lawsuits. The second is to force the town (through the FAA) to perform the much needed maintenance at the airport. The town has refused to do the maintenance for years, despite making promise after broken promise to do so. There comes a point when empty promises mean nothing. When local pilots asked the town board to show how all of the needed current maintenance could be paid for, future maintenance could be paid for, and annual operations could be paid for they came ...more
By localEH (427), East Hampton on May 20, 15 4:59 PM
to localEH:


"More than 900 signed the petition to keep the airport open."

The signatories of that petition are PILOTS, not RESIDENTS. As of May 31 at 8 a.m., of the ten most recent signatories (which is the limited list accessible on the site), ONE individual “may” reside in the town of East Hampton. The others all live elsewhere.* The petition appears to be nothing more than an expression of the ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on May 21, 15 8:01 AM
I guess when you don't like the actual facts you prefer to just make up a bunch of stuff and then pretend those are the facts? The people who signed the petition are RESIDENTS who have listed their locations from all over the East End. While a few might be pilots who are also RESIDENTS, the majority are not. I don't know how you can claim that all 950 are pilots with a straight face. Moreover, the petition was started by a RESIDENT local pilot who was merely asking that the neglected maintenance ...more
By localEH (427), East Hampton on May 21, 15 2:56 PM
to localEH:

Within the limits of the censorious Press, I have provided you, and all readers, with the direct citation to the petition which you cite. It's declaration reads,

"The PILOT community has watched for years as the Town Board has neglected the airport. It is time to prove to us . . . etc." (emphasis added)

Furthermore, as I stated, nine of the last ten petitioners (who are identified by domicile on the site) DO NOT RESIDE in EH Town. Your assertion that they ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on May 21, 15 11:06 PM

"As the board prepares to act one thing is evident: after all the talk, and all the studying, whatever the board does will be challenged in court, and the legislation will be stalled during what promises to be a lengthy legal process. In other words, the copters, and their noise, will be with us this summer and beyond."

The Independent editorial a month ago.

As we cut lawyer KIrsch for his "precision" expertise.
By nazznazz (276), east hampton on May 21, 15 11:13 PM
highhat: You don't reside in East Hampton.
By nazznazz (276), east hampton on May 21, 15 11:15 PM