East Hampton Sued over Airport Restrictions

Helicopter restrictions are on the table at the East Hampton Airport
Helicopter restrictions are on the table at the East Hampton Airport

A group of aviation advocates known as Friends of the East Hampton Airport filed a federal lawsuit against East Hampton Town yesterday over the town’s approval last week of three new restrictions aimed at curbing noise at the town’s airport.

In their suit, the group alleges that the restrictions violate the 1990 Airport Noise and Capacity Act, which regulates noisy aircraft, and that the town still doesn’t have the right to enact noise restrictions based on assurances they made to the federal government decades ago that they would not restrict access to the airport until 2021. They also ask the courts for an injunction stopping the town from enforcing the regulations this summer.

The town had previously received relief from the courts allowing them to restrict airport access as of January 1 of this year.

Loren Riegelhaupt, a spokesperson for the Friends of the East Hampton Airport released the following statement on Tuesday morning:

“Friends of the East Hampton Airport remains steadfastly committed to preserving East Hampton Airport’s vitality and accessibility to the public,” said the group’s spokeswoman, Loren Reigelhaupt, in a statement Tuesday. “It is deeply unfortunate that we were forced to sue to stop the town’s actions.  It is a course that we concluded we had no alternative but to pursue after months of trying, without success, to convince the town to follow its obligations under federal aviation law.”

The town’s consultant, Peter Kirsch of Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell LLP, said in a statement Tuesday that the 34-page complaint “is entirely predictable and contains no surprises.”

Mr. Kirsch added that the “plaintiffs forget that the town has patiently waited for federal contractual obligations to expire before taking this action,” and the “plaintiffs don’t mention that the Airport Noise and Capacity Act no longer applies to this airport.”

“The issues that plaintiffs raise have been litigated over and over again in lawsuits throughout the nation and airport proprietors have consistently won,” he added. “While we anticipated this lawsuit, it is sad that these airport users are now going to force the town to spend scarce airport funds to defend these restrictions rather than working to make this airport the best it can be.”

 

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, 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 editor@eastendbeacon.com

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