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Sep 13, 2016 5:10 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Spike In Noise Complaints Prompts Brookhaven Town To Close Down Two East Moriches Airports

Lufker Airport in East Moriches. BY ERIN MCKINLEY
Sep 14, 2016 8:37 AM

Flights in and out of two small East Moriches airports were grounded earlier this summer after a spike in noise complaints from the neighboring facilities prompted Brookhaven Town officials to enforce a 20-year-old injunction that bans such operations in a residential neighborhood.

Both the Spadaro and Lufker airports, which sit to the north of Montauk Highway and have been operating for decades, were forced to ground all flights on August 10, according to Brookhaven Town Chief of Staff Emily Pines. Spadaro Airport had been operating since 1956, though it is unclear exactly when Lufker Airport opened. The runway at Spadaro is paved while the one at Lufker’s is not.

Both properties, which measure about 20 acres each and feature their own runways, have always been zoned residential and neither owner has ever made an attempt over the years to secure variances from the town to allow for the continued operation of airports, according to Ms. Pines.

Although they have received noise complaints about both airports over the years, town officials said there was a sharp increase this summer, with most relating to the operation of the Long Island Skydiving Center at Spadaro that has been offering services since 2003. Town officials said the complaints—they said they could not provide an exact number—increased once the company began offering additional jumps, prompting the town to take action. Additionally, two residents threatened to sue the town on two dates—June 30 and July 13—over the continued operation of both airports, town officials said.

According to AirportIQ, a website recommended by the Federal Aviation Administration to track operations at small airports, Lufker has averaged roughly 2,500 flights a year, while Spadaro accommodated about 6,100 flights annually.

Attempts to reach the owners of the airports—listed in court documents as Susan Spadaro, the trustee of the Bartholomew F. Spadaro trust, and Louis and Dorothy Lufker—were unsuccessful. Mr. Spadaro, the founder of Spadaro Airport, died in 2013.

“Neither of the airports were operating under the town law or the general municipal law,” Ms. Pines said this week. “This is not a case of pre-existing, nonconforming use.”

According to the injunction submitted last month against Spadaro Airport, the town has decided to enforce a permanent injunction filed on August 19, 1994, and signed by State Supreme Court Justice Robert Doyle. The 22-year-old document prohibits the property, listed as 91 Montauk Highway, from being used as an airport unless a variance is obtained from the town. The most recent injunction, however, states that such an application was never filed with the municipality.

Ms. Pines did not explain why the town ignored the continued operation of both airports for so long.

Four years later—on September 3, 1998—Justice Doyle filed a similar injunction pertaining to Lufker Airport, located at 115 Montauk Highway. That injunction cited a 1983 stipulation allowing the property to be utilized to make repairs and complete routine regular maintenance of aircraft and automobiles; the stipulation never gave the operators permission to open and operate a runway, according to town officials.

They said the owners violated the injunction when they began giving pilots, as well as a skydiving business, access to the airport. In 2005, representatives from Lufker Airport appealed the injunction, though it was denied.

The latest injunction filed against Spadaro Airport is scheduled to be heard at the State Supreme Court in Riverside on Wednesday, September 28. Lufker Airport officials were scheduled to return to the same court yesterday, Wednesday, September 14.

According to Ms. Pines, the town decided to enforce the separate injunctions due to the sharp increase in complaints about flights taking off and landing at the two facilities. She said it is not the town’s intention to force either owner to sell their land; town officials, she said, are simply no longer going to allow the airports to operate illegally.

Ms. Pines noted that current zoning allows for the construction of homes, though the owners always have the option to request a change of zone for other uses, such as a solar farm.

“It is not that they can’t use the property,” Ms. Pines said. “It is that there are processes that must be gone through to get a new use. Nothing was done here.”

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So when they sell it to a developer everyone will complain....
By The Real World (363), southampton on Sep 14, 16 9:10 AM
When did they move into the neighborhood???
By knitter (1720), Southampton on Sep 14, 16 10:18 AM
Go to Change.org and sign the petition to SAVE EMO AIRPORTS!!
look up Stop town of Brookhaven from closing down Lufker + Spadaro Airport operating since 1956.
By YvetteVinny Burkard (1), Mastic, New York on Sep 15, 16 11:57 AM
Please give a direct link to the petition to SAVE EMO AIRPORTS. (Unable to find petition on change.org). Thanks.
By ANTI.bs (13), Southampton on Sep 17, 16 11:46 AM
By ANTI.bs (13), Southampton on Sep 17, 16 12:03 PM