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Jun 26, 2015 5:16 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Hampton Airport Curfews Will Take Effect July 2 After Judge Denies Injunction

East Hampton Airport will close to air traffic at night starting July 2. LAURA WEIR
Jun 30, 2015 5:39 PM

East Hampton Town will impose nighttime curfews on all aircraft flying in and out of East Hampton Airport as of 12:01 a.m. on Thursday morning, July 2.

The curfews, which were enacted by the Town Board in April in reaction to years of noise complaints by residents, go into effect after a federal judge last week denied an injunction that would have blocked them, one sought by a coalition of aviation industry businesses and pilots that have sued the town over the new regulations.

The airport will be closed to all aircraft between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. and to exceptionally loud aircraft, like helicopters and large private jets, from 8 p.m. to 9 a.m. all year long. The fine for any aircraft violating the curfew will be up to $1,000 for the first offense, $4,000 for the second offense and $10,000 for a third offense, followed by a two-year ban of any use of the airport for any further violation.

The curfews and the use limit are the focus of a lawsuit filed by the aviation coalition, the Friends of East Hampton Airport, which is still before Judge Seybert.

“The balance of hardships tips in the town’s favor with respect to the mandatory curfew and extended curfew, as the town’s desire to protect its residents during sleeping hours clearly outweighs the inconvenience [the] plaintiffs may experience by having to minimize their flight schedules,” U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert wrote in her 45-page ruling on the injunctions.

However, she granted an injunction to the aviation advocates blocking another town regulation, one that barred any single helicopter or large jet from more than one landing and one takeoff at the airport per week.

“We are gratified that the court enjoined the one-trip limit, finding it to be drastic and unreasonable,” Friends of East Hampton Airport spokesperson Loren Riegelhaupt said after the ruling last week. “We are carefully reviewing the decision and appellate options regarding the curfews.”

Mr. Riegelhaupt said that all of the airport’s various aviation users would immediately comply with the new regulations. Charter flight operators contacted this week declined to comment on how the new rules would affect their business.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said that the town is gratified that the judge chose to allow the curfew to take effect for the coming summer.

“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,” Mr. Cantwell said in a statement released by the town last week. “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.”

The Town Board had considered banning helicopters from the airport altogether during the summer, but dropped the rule after concerns from other municipalities about heavy air traffic being pushed onto other area airport facilities.

In studies conducted by town consultants in the months before the new regulations were adopted, the curfews were seen as having a relatively low impact on the operation of the airport, since the busiest periods are in the late afternoons and early evenings prior to and at the end of weekends.

But those flights that do land and take off at the airport in the late evening and overnight hours spur a large percentage of the complaints by residents under flight paths, so the supervisor said that the curfews should address a significant part of the problem for residents.

“Noise tends to be more disturbing at night and early in the morning than in the middle of the day,” Mr. Cantwell said. “The curfews will not address the frequency of noise issues our residents experience on those busy afternoons—the one-trip-per-week restriction would have helped that—but it will at least provide some relief.”

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Excellent news that the judge has recognized East Hampton Town's legal authority to regulate various aspects of the airport without the FAA's approval.

Period.

Local pilots might reconsider their alignment with out of town commercial and noisy chopper interests.
By PBR (4788), Southampton on Jun 26, 15 5:46 PM
Cantrell had a chance to show local pilots that he wanted to protect their interests and gain their support. He has had several opportunities to exclude local pilots from the curfew penalties if they have to land after hours. He has had a multitude of opportunities to perform the most basic of safety maintenance at the airport. Instead he has profoundly given us his middle finger. Might as well return the favor.
By localEH (189), East Hampton on Jun 27, 15 6:24 PM
1 member liked this comment
" . . . middle finger. Might as well return the favor."

Nice adult spirit of compromise . . .

Have your fellow local pilots approved your flight plan?

And you wonder why change is hard to accomplish?
By PBR (4788), Southampton on Jun 29, 15 6:39 AM
1 member liked this comment
Why don't you first list the compromises proposed by the Town Board? List the ways the Town Board has worked to protect local pilots? List the ways the Town Board has responded to local pilots' concerns that they were being punished by the proposed regulations and concerns about the dangerous conditions of the airport? Where is the "spirit of compromise" from your side PBR - oh, nevermind there is none and never has been.
By localEH (189), East Hampton on Jun 29, 15 1:59 PM
1 member liked this comment
My ears don't discern any difference between noise from "local pilots" and others. Nor does my wallet when paying taxes that subsidize airport operations and repairs. Where were the local pilots in proposing meaningful compromises for the past several years as the complaints against noise grew and strengthened?
Oh that's right, they were firmly aligned with the outside aviation interests, giving all of us the middle finger.
By zaz (192), East Hampton on Jun 29, 15 7:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
Restriction is from 7AM to 11PM? Don't you mean 11PM to 7AM? Wouldn't 7AM to 11 PM virtually close down the airport?
By formertbm (76), east hampton on Jun 26, 15 10:51 PM
Southampton Village better act fast to establish regulations, or its heliport will be inundated.
By Crabby (63), Southampton on Jun 27, 15 10:25 AM
Yea. And we know its still ok for UBER to travel to and from East Hampton.
By Toma Noku (514), Southampton on Jun 27, 15 10:56 AM
An excellent update to Mr. Wright's article was just posted FYI.
By PBR (4788), Southampton on Jun 30, 15 6:30 PM
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