Federal District Court Judge Joanna Seybert agreed Friday to allow East Hampton Town to institute two year-round curfews at the town’s municipal airport in Wainscott, but did not allow the town to set a limit of one trip per week on the use of the airport by noisy aircraft, while the case is being argued in her court in Islip.
The town had enacted three noise restrictions at the airport in May, but was quickly sued by pilot advocacy groups. Friday’s ruling on the pilots’ request for a temporary restraining order against the regulations provides a framework for the town’s ability to regulate the airport while the case is being argued, and is not a permanent decision.
East Hampton Town officials said in a press release Friday that enforcement of the two curfews will begin this Thursday, July 2, 2015, at 12:01 a.m., at which time the airport will be under a mandatory nighttime curfew from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., and noisy aircraft will not be able to use the airport between 8 p.m. and 9 a.m.
Judge Seybert said in her 45-page order Friday that it “it cannot be argued that the town lacked the data to support a finding of a noise problem at the Airport.”
“We’re pleased the judge has acknowledged that the Town was justified in adopting restrictions to provide relief to the growing number of people who are negatively affected by aircraft noise,” said Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell. “Although we regret that one of the key laws cannot be enforced for the time being, we are gratified that the Court recognized that the law allows the kind of restrictions that are essential to protect the residents of this Town.”
Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, the town board’s liaison to the airport, said the ruling “is an important first step, but we must recognize that our opponents are well funded and will not give up easily. This will be a long process, not just for the pending case in federal court but also for the many other actions filed against operations at the Airport. In light of today’s ruling, however, we encourage our opponents to rethink their strategy. It’s time to do what’s best for the Town and adapt aircraft operations to fit our reasonable restrictions.”