By Kathryn G. Menu
Last Thursday, the East Hampton Town Board voted to move forward with an application to the Federal Aviation Administration that ultimately will seek approval to impose restrictions on aircraft flying in and out of the East Hampton Airport.
The vote was carried by four members of the board — Supervisor Larry Cantwell, Deputy Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, Councilperson Kathee Burke Gonzalez and Councilperson Sylvia Overby. Councilperson Fred Overton, who is not seeking re-election to the board, was absent from the vote, but has previously said he supports the initiative. The resolution authorizes the town’s aviation attorneys, Morrison Foerster, to begin to prepare a Part 161 application. The application, made through a provision in the Airport Noise and Capacity Act that allows municipalities to ask the FAA for restrictions on air traffic at local airports, will take a minimum of two years to complete, and could take longer than five years if the FAA rejects the first draft. Attorneys at Morrison Foerster estimate the study could cost between $1.5 million and $2 million to complete.
The study will look at specific restrictions at the airport, and whether those proposed regulations would have an adverse impact on airport users or discriminate against a particular kind of aircraft. Economic impacts of restrictions will also have to be included in the application.
The Part 161 study is the town’s last avenue to provide relief for residents in East Hampton and beyond who are impacted by airport noise. While curfews, put into place in 2015, were upheld in federal court, a federal appeals court ruled last fall that the town should have completed the Part 161 study as required by ANCA if it was going to impose curfews at the airport. The appeals court decision did not discuss the appropriateness of the curfews specifically.
The town did petition the Supreme Court to take up its case, but the court announced this summer it would not review the appellate court’s decision.