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"New York officials ask Supreme Court to review airport noise case"

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

East Hampton officials ask Supreme Court to review airport noise case
By Rachelle Blidner

East Hampton Town officials are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a 
lower federal court decision that struck down its airport curfew laws and to 
give the town control of the airport where noise complaints rise in the summer. 

Town officials said they filed a petition with the nation's highest court on 
Monday in an effort to reinstate laws that restricted late-night and 
early-morning flights - and thus reduce noise - at East Hampton Airport in 

"We have fought long and hard to protect our quality of life and it is too 
important to let the court of appeals undermine that," Councilwoman Kathee 
Burke-Gonzalez said in a statement Monday.

Town officials had vowed to take the case to the Supreme Court after the Second 
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Nov. 4 to throw out laws that prohibited 
all flights between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. and noisy aircraft flights between 8 
p.m. and 9 a.m. 

In a 3-0 opinion, the appeals court panel determined town officials failed to 
comply with procedures under the federal Airport Noise and Capacity Act, which 
requires aircraft operators to have a chance to be heard.

Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell disputed the appeals court finding, saying the 
town "engaged in a lengthy public process to identify meaningful but reasonable 

"With the stroke of a pen, the appeals court decision has federalized our 
airport and stripped us - and the thousands of similarly situated airports - of 
the ability to exert local control," Cantwell said in a statement issued 
Monday. "We cannot let that decision stand."

The town board in April 2015 adopted three curfew laws, including one that 
restricted noisy aircraft from flying more than one trip per week between May 
and September. It also stopped accepting federal funding for the airport in 
order to retain control over operations, Cantwell said. 

A group of helicopter pilots, aviation businesses and their allies sued the 
town on April 21, 2015, arguing the curfew rules were illegal.

U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert in the Eastern District of New York in 
Central Islip upheld the two curfew laws that prohibited late-night and 
early-morning flights but struck down the third that limited the number of 
flights. The coalition that initially sued the town filed an appeal.

After the appeals court ruling, town officials refunded about $10,000 collected 
in curfew-violation fines.

The Supreme Court agrees to review only about 100 to 150 cases of 7,000 
petitioned every year, according to the U.S. Courts website.
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