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Oct 3, 2017 4:54 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Hampton Town Board Will Vote Thursday To Proceed With Years-Long Airport Application

The East Hampton Airport.  PRESS FILE
Oct 3, 2017 4:54 PM

The East Hampton Town Board will vote on Thursday night on going forward with an application to the Federal Aviation Administration to request restrictions on flights at East Hampton Airport.

Four of the five members of the Town Board—Supervisor Larry Cantwell excluded—voiced their support for moving ahead with the application, which lawyers have told the town could take three to five years to complete and cost as much as $2 million or more.

“I see no alternative but to move forward with the Part 161,” said Councilman Fred Overton, who will retire at the end of the year. “I’m concerned about the possibility of success. But I think with your tenacity and your hard work, you may succeed. And I hope you succeed, because I don’t want to see the airport close.”

Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, the board’s liaison to the airport who has spearheaded the town’s efforts in the last four years to rein in aircraft traffic, said she would introduce a resolution on Thursday for the board to vote on, officially beginning the application process.

“I’m recommending that we move forward,” she said.

If the board votes to begin the process it will officially hire the international law firm Morrison Foerster, which has guided other municipalities in applications to the FAA.

According to a hypothetical time line a Morrison Foerster attorney outlined last month, the firm and town officials would spend the winter drafting the proposed regulations that would be the focus of the application. Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said that the application would almost certainly request curfews on flights similar to the ones the town imposed on its own in 2015, before they were struck down by a federal court last fall.

But she also noted that addressing the noise that draws thousands of complaints a year from residents throughout the East End will require additional restrictions that will have to be more creative, to reduce flights by the noisiest culprits—namely helicopters, the vast majority of which are operated by commercial charter and air-taxi companies—while not unfairly inhibiting the traditional use of the airport by small-plane owners and local residents.

The town has said it would pay for the application’s costly process with airport revenues, not taxes, as it did with the millions in legal and consulting fees used thus far—a policy that aviation interests have challenged in court and that political opponents of Ms. Burke-Gonzalez in this year’s election have spotlighted.

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Will they be able to increase airport fees to pay for this application?
By Toma Noku (616), Southampton on Oct 3, 17 8:19 PM
No, but there's would be no need for that. The airport generates over $6M in revenue for itself annually, and nearly $20M in spending, revenue and salaries for our local community. So long as the town quits paying millions of the airport's dollars to attorneys they hired to defend their illegal restrictions, while losing every single court battle because they were misled by the anti-airport faction, there should be plenty of airport money to self-fund the Part 161. It's a shame the town didn't do ...more
By localEH (427), East Hampton on Oct 3, 17 9:37 PM
Just throwing away more money..but what do politicians care, its not their money.
By Preliator Lives (437), Obamavillie on Oct 4, 17 8:39 AM
Millions! What a waste of money that could have been better spent elsewhere or not all. Fools.
By Amagansett Voter (62), Amagansett on Oct 4, 17 11:15 AM
I'm sure the folks who use the library on a regular basis feel differently about the investment's merits.
Oct 4, 17 11:24 AM appended by Fore1gnBornHBgrown
This posted to the wrong news story...woops!
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Oct 4, 17 11:24 AM