At the East Hampton Airport in September.
At the East Hampton Airport in September 2016.

The East Hampton Town Board is publicly asking members of the East End Supervisors and Mayors Association to reach out to federal lawmakers to support an amendment to FAA legislation to clarify the East Hampton Airport’s ability to regulate noisy aircraft.

The amendment East Hampton is asking for would ratify a 2005 civil action settlement between Committee to Stop Airport Expansion et al and Department of Transportation et al, which stated the town would no longer be subject after the year 2014  to grant assurances requiring the airport to not restrict traffic as a result of taking FAA funding in the past, and that the airport would not need to go through the lengthy approval process laid out in the Airport Noise and Capacity Act in proposing airport noise and access restrictions.

The town attempted to enact several noise restrictions for the summer of 2015, but was promptly sued by a group of aviation advocates called Friends of the East Hampton Airport, alleging that the restrictions violate the 1990 federal Airport Noise and Capacity Act, which regulates noisy aircraft.

The aviation group also argued that the town doesn’t have the right to enact noise restrictions based on assurances they made to the federal government, as a condition of grant funding, that they would not restrict access to the airport until 2021. The town has maintained the position that those grant assurances expired at the start of 2015 due to the 2005 settlement.

The restrictions included a mandatory nighttime curfew, from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., an extended curfew on noisy aircraft from 8 p.m. to 9 a.m. and a limit on operations by noisy aircraft of one trip per week during the summer season.

The two curfews had been in effect from the summer of 2015 until an appellate court struck them down last fall, but the court granted an preliminary injunction prohibiting the one-trip limit while the case was being argued.

The town petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case earlier this year, but learned two weeks ago that the Supreme Court has declined to hear the case.

On Monday, July 10, the town asked the East End Supervisors & Mayors Association to “have their respective municipalities reach out to Congressman Lee Zeldin and Senators Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand in support of an amendment to be included in the FAA Reauthorization legislation currently pending in Congress.:

The town’s proposed language was drafted to codify the FAA’s original intent in the 2005 settlement agreement. It reads:

“The Settlement Agreement entered into by the United States in Civil Action No. CV-03-2634 is ratified and shall be binding, such that:

  1. 1.)  as of December 31, 2014, the East Hampton Airport shall no longer be subject to Sponsor Assurances 22a, 22h and 29;
  2. 2.)  unless the sponsor of the East Hampton Airport wishes to remain eligible to receive future grants of federal funding under the Airport Improvement Program, the sponsor is not required to comply with the requirements under the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 (ANCA), as implemented by Title 14 C.F.R., Part 161, in proposing new airport noise and access restrictions; and
  3. 3.)  the sponsor shall not be in violation of the prohibitions against exclusive rights as set forth in 49 U.S.C. §§ 40103(e) and 47107(a) and Sponsor Assurance 23 by adopting any such new airport noise and access restriction.”

“The amendment is necessary because the FAA’s authority to enter into this Settlement Agreement, and the FAA’s interpretation of the effect of the Settlement Agreement has been challenged in federal litigation and in a pending Part 16 administrative proceeding filed by the National Business Aviation Association,” according to a press release Monday from the town.

The East End Supervisors and Mayors Association is designed to address issues of regional importance,” said Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell. “Regaining local control of East Hampton Airport and allowing our local community to put in place common sense noise abatement measures is something the entire East End community supports. We look forward to working with our federal elected officials to secure this vitally important legislative amendment.”

“The FAA Reauthorization Bill is the perfect opportunity to clarify the intent of the 2005 Settlement Agreement and establish once and for all that the Town of East Hampton has local control over their municipally-owned Airport, added Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, the town board’s liaison to the airport. “We appreciate any and all efforts by our congressional delegation to that end.”

The town’s letter to the Supervisors & Mayors Association is online here.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at

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