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Apr 6, 2017 1:01 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

New York City Backs East Hampton In Town's Supreme Court Petition To Exert Local Control At Airport

A group boards a Blade helicopter at East Hampton Airport. PRESS FILE
Apr 11, 2017 5:09 PM

The City of New York last week lent its considerable legal weight to East Hampton Town’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking that the court reinstate its power, and that of other municipalities, to impose curfews and other local controls at the town-owned airport.

A brief filed on Wednesday, April 5, on behalf of New York City notes that because of its density and proximity to water, the city has few options by which to address noise and other quality-of-life problems caused by aircraft, helicopters in particular, other than limiting trip volume as well as hours of operation, and adjusting flight routes.

Like East Hampton Town’s petition to the Supreme Court, the city’s brief challenges a 2nd Court of Appeals determination last fall that local governments do not have the authority to impose limits that supersede rules set by the Federal Aviation Administration. The ruling voided two curfews the town had imposed at East Hampton Airport since the summer of 2015 and permanently shelved a third rule that would have limited the number of times a given aircraft could take off and land at the airport in a week.

Those rules were challenged by a group of aviation-related companies, including charter helicopter operators who have seen demand for shuttle flights between New York City and East Hampton climb steadily in the last decade.

“Responsibility for protecting local residents from aviation noise has historically been shouldered primarily by local governmental airport proprietors,” the city’s brief says, also warning of the dangers of the expansion of federal authority.

Two more briefs were also filed on behalf of East Hampton Town on Wednesday. The Committee to Stop Airport Expansion, whose members are residents who live near the airport, and the International Municipal Lawyers Association filed a joint brief, and the Town of Southold filed one of its own.

The town’s petition to the Supreme Court was filed in March. Town officials have said they expect to hear this spring or summer whether the Supreme Court will consider the case.

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New York City's amicus brief will hopefully nudge the Supreme Court to accept this appeal, and to recognize that local municipalities have inherent police power rights to regulate air traffic in some fashion. Federal FAA pre-emption is not a blanket denial of local rights.

A quieter EH airport COULD remain open and viable, if the local pilots would WAKE UP, and get out of bed with the out-of-town commercial chopper interests.

As the saying goes, "lie down with dogs -- wake up ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Apr 6, 17 2:20 PM
One of this week's editorials in the paper to our east also recognized that the local pilots' intransigence on noise issues could backfire on them, and result in the airport being closed altogether.

Talk about flying blind . . .
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Apr 8, 17 7:07 AM
It has been reported elsewhere that the Supreme Court has ordered the pro-airport parties to file an opposition brief by mid-May, after which EHT will be able to file one more shorter brief in response.

Surprising IMO that no opposition brief had been filed apparently. An oversight or simple arrogance?

The Supreme Court's decision to grant certiorari could come as early as mid-summer.

With the new justice now seated, this could get interesting . . .
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Apr 20, 17 6:11 AM