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Apr 17, 2012 4:11 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton Town's Aviation Attorney Weighs In On Recent FAA Answers

Apr 17, 2012 4:17 PM

East Hampton Town’s aviation attorney responded on Tuesday to recent information that quiet skies activists claim proves that taking federal funding for projects at the airport would limit the town’s ability to control noise generated by helicopters.

Peter J. Kirsch, the town’s aviation attorney, and a partner at Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell LLP, delivered a presentation to the Town Board at a work session at which he concluded that accepting Federal Aviation Administration grants will not adversely affect the town’s ability to address community noise concerns. Mr. Kirsch’s presentation addressed answers to questions from U.S. Representative Tim Bishop’s office to the FAA that were crafted by the anti-noise group the Quiet Skies Coalition. The group claims the FAA’s responses prove that the town will be able to reduce noise by restricting access to the airport come January 1, 2015, if it doesn’t accept more federal money. That’s when current grant restrictions that prevent the town from establishing aircraft restrictions and curfews will expire.

Instead, Mr. Kirsch recommended the town should continue pursuing a “Part 161”—a federal process for addressing noise, and as recommended in a comprehensive noise mitigation plan spearheaded by Councilman Dominick Stanzione last year. It would allow the town to document data that would ultimately help it identify the problem. It would then allow officials to craft a narrow solution or restriction at the airport to help mitigate the issue.

“The FAA opinion memo issued to Congressman Bishop does not change our legal advice, our proposed strategy or the recommended measures to address comprehensive airport management,” Mr. Kirsch said.

Mr. Kirsch went on to explain the topic in detail to board members. He said the town could indeed impose restrictions on helicopters without obtaining FAA approval, but not without considerable legal risks, as the town would have to demonstrate the restriction is “reasonable, nondiscriminatory and nonarbitrary.” The best approach, he recommended, was pursuing the Part 161 study to collect data to identify the problem.

Mr. Kirsch also gave board members an update on other airport initiatives, including working with the FAA to designate off-shore helicopter routes for the summer and designing an air traffic control tower that officials hope will be in place before Memorial Day.

Earlier in the meeting, airport advocates urged Town Board members to move forward with accepting federal funds in order to make much needed repairs to infrastructure at the site— specifically Runway 4-22, which pilots say needs serious work. Bonnie Krupinski, a local business owner whose father was a pilot, said the town can barely make its necessary road improvements let alone take on capital improvements at the airport. “If the town does not take these FAA funds, the airport will close,” she said.

Kathy Cunningham, a member of the Quiet Skies Coalition, stressed that the group is not interested in shutting the airport down. “Our concerns have to do with the town’s ability to limit access,” she said. “… Quality of life issues are really important to most of us here. The impacts of noise on a rural environment like ours are big, they are very big impacts, and town code reflects that standard. It’s a community standard.”

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It turned out that Mr. Kirsch dropped a bomb on the anti-airport people. The bomb was that the town can regulate helicopters by providing support for why there should be restrictions. The anti-airport people using the helicopter as the new boogie man to close the airport (and pulling back from the jets as the main problem) were hoisted on their own petards today because they failed to listen to what was being said over the last several years-that being that type 1 and 2 aircraft can be controlled ...more
By connwatcher (112), east hampton on Apr 17, 12 8:06 PM
1 member liked this comment
This is the same story attorney Kirsch has been spinning since 2007 while airport noise has worsened and Kirsch’s pockets have filled with town money for his fruitless advice.

In history, the FAA has grudgingly granted one restriction on aircraft to reduce noise under attorney Kirsch’s scenario, and attorney Kirsch made almost five million dollars representing Naples, Fla. to do so. East Hampton should not waste money on a speculative petition to the FAA, but it should take ...more
By danrudan (40), Southampton on Apr 18, 12 10:46 AM
1 member liked this comment
Kirsch was hired by the Dems and he obviously did not tell the anti-airport faction of the party what they wanted to hear back in 2007, 2008 and 2009 - he was a straight shooter that the anti-airport Dems have not been able to bury after he didn't deliver the bacon like they expected (but as some appraisers seem to do for them routinely). The money that will be wasted is the MILLIONS and MILLIONS the Town will have to spend itself in the future on runway safety, apron upkeep, improvements and everything ...more
By connwatcher (112), east hampton on Apr 18, 12 9:58 PM
Somehow, methinks there wil be a lot more on this than Mr. Kirsch presents. He is being paid thousands of dollars each time he "pronounces" and he is not about to say, " I was wrong, let me give you a refund here".
Those making big money from businesses at the airport (Krupenski et al) and a handful of ultra wealthy people saving an hour of commuting time from the city to their luxury estates are using the airport. 99% of the people who live here do not use the airport. Accepting FAA dollars ...more
By Trish (91), Sag Harbor on Apr 18, 12 7:21 AM
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Quiet Skies Coalition speaks to the aircraft noise pollution that is increasing with each year. There is no member of QSC that wants to close the airport. That is propaganda by those who wish to see the airport expanded.
Opening another runway, establishing a tower, and adding routes to disperse aircraft traffic to all areas means MORE air traffic, not less. It is simple.
I am a member of QSC and come from a family of pilots. I was taught to fly when I was in high school. The EH Airport ...more
By mcgrawkeber (47), East Hampton on Apr 18, 12 11:02 AM
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Me thinks there are a few people who would like to bulldoze the airport and put more luxury houses up so they can make a few bucks.

As for rural, that concept died 40 years ago. Everywhere you look there are houses on farmland. Every year more and more open space is destroyed by development. East Hampton is looking more and more like Nassau County every year.

I feel that the antiairport group is just using the noise issue to try to cause economic strangulation of that facility ...more
By Gene (4), East Hampton on Apr 18, 12 5:21 PM
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ah the disinformation here.
Helicopter flights have declined by over 25% since 2007. So by any measure, overall noise has been reduced. The same is true of jet traffic.
Runway 4-22 is scheduled to be re-opened. it is NOT a new runway.
If we wait for the grant assurances to expire on 12/31/14 that is THREE summers (count 'em 2012, 2013, 2014) before anything would change.
Does anyone seriously think that pilots say, "Ah, East Hampton has new a control tower, I think I'll fly ...more
By PAW47 (10), East Hampton on Apr 19, 12 3:09 PM