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Mar 10, 2015 9:50 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Group Opposed To East Hampton Airport Restrictions Distributes Fliers Ahead of Hearing

Mar 10, 2015 3:36 PM

Last week’s postponement of a public hearing on proposed restrictions on operations at the East Hampton Airport gave opponents of the new rules an additional week to campaign against them.

On Saturday, March 8, Friends of the East Hampton Airport, an organization that is fighting the restrictions, dropped fliers on residents’ doorsteps in an attempt to mobilize opponents of the East Hampton Town Board’s effort to limit airport operations—a plan that is intended to alleviate noise from the airport, following years of complaints.

The flier charges that “East Hampton is under attack” and warns that the proposed restrictions would be “a punch in the gut to the local economy,” amounting to lost jobs, local businesses closing, millions of dollars of economic activity lost, higher property taxes, and lower property values. It urges residents to attend the public hearing—rescheduled for Thursday, March 12, at 4:30 p.m. at LTV Studios in Wainscott—to voice their disapproval of the plan.

“We need you to join the fight to protect our town by attending and speaking at the Town Board hearing … Please call 10 friends, family members or neighbors and ask them to support the airport,” the flier states, adding that the new rules would be an “assault on hard-working East Hampton locals.”

If the Town Board approves the restrictions, there would be a curfew banning all flights between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., year-round. Aircraft labeled as “noisy” would face a stricter curfew and not be permitted to take off or land from 8 p.m. to 9 a.m. year-round. There would be a complete ban on helicopter operations during holidays and weekends between May 1 and September 30, and more limits on “noisy” aircraft, which would be allowed only one takeoff and landing per week between May and September.

Although the proposed restrictions target helicopters and other noisy aircraft and would not affect most small, recreational planes, some pilots say they are concerned that if the laws are adopted, the reduction in air traffic could prove to be too costly for the airport, which is self-funded. They contend that lost business and revenue might cause the Town Board to eventually levy a tax on residents to maintain it, or even close it.

“If restrictions go in place, the airport is going to close,” said Rod Davidson, a Bridgehampton resident and recreational pilot who owns a hangar at the East Hampton Airport. “It won’t be able to sustain what needs to happen. We’re a resort community. We need to facilitate a way for people to get to us and spend money. The airport is a huge asset for that. We have to try to recover from this winter that we’ve had.”

Mr. Davidson, who owns a car care company in Water Mill, said his business would suffer along with others. “Many of our customers use the airport,” he said. “Many of our pilot friends and community members use the airport. All of that stuff gets affected.”

Loren Riegelhaupt, a spokesperson for Friends of the East Hampton Airport, said that the fliers distributed on Saturday—he did not say where or how widely—paint an accurate picture of the situation. “If enacted, these bans will have deep and harmful impacts on local small businesses, the local economy, and seriously jeopardize the airport’s future,” he said. “It’s important that residents fully understand the true impact of what the town is proposing and not let the facts be drowned out by a loud but small group of airport opponents.”

One of those opponents is Kathleen Cunningham, an East Hampton resident and chair of the Quiet Skies Coalition. She said that she did not receive a flier at her doorstep, but has seen one of them, and she disputed its statements that the proposed airport restrictions would hurt the local economy and result in a tax increase.

“The claim that taxpayers will have to fund the airport or suffer higher property taxes is wrong and simply meant to scare people,” she said. “Taxpayers do not pay for any portion of airport operations, maintenance or capital improvements. Any claim to the contrary is simply false. The only attack on East Hampton is from helicopter and aircraft noise generated by out-of-state interests who only wish to exploit our sense of native peace and quiet for their own profit. My guess is, that is who is behind these fliers.”

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Very short sighted to impose those restrictions.
By sandydog21 (182), Southampton on Mar 10, 15 1:45 PM
Sure the aviation special interests are coming out against this because the punch in the gfut will be to their profit lines, not to EH Town whose econmy will only improve should restrictions be set.
EH is currently know as the poster child of noise problem airports--IN THE NATION.
MORE NOISE COMPLAINTS THAN CHICAGO O'HARE DOES NOT ENTICE TOURISTS, BUYERS, OR RENTERS. Visitors will visit the Hamptons no matter what---they will continue to come as they did when it took a three-day journey ...more
By Trish (89), Sag Harbor on Mar 10, 15 3:00 PM
Actually HTO has become the national poster child for how to manipulate data. You intentionally hyper inflated the complaint numbers to create a false "problem". More than 20% of those complaints came from 2 people and 50% came from the same 20 people. One guy even set up an auto dialer! The only special interests here are you wealthy real estate folks who want the airport land so bad you will lie, manipulate, and threaten everyone until you get it. Sorry, us locals are fighting back.
By localEH (218), East Hampton on Mar 10, 15 4:30 PM
“EH Town whose economy will only improve should restrictions be set…..”

I doubt that? A 27% increase in the median home prices, correlated to a 26% in airport traffic? Something sounds like a win-win for all locals that have a stake in the economy
By kevinlocal (47), wainscott on Mar 10, 15 10:18 PM
The airport discouraging tourism, renters and buyers might be it's only positive attribute to locals. The issue is noise. You want to keep the airport open, eliminate property taxes within a 15 mile radius of the property lines. People pay too much cash to put up with a helicopter every 8-10 minutes in the summer. That is outrageous and has nothing to do with locals putzing around with their odd inheritances.
By GG Alin (11), Southampton on Mar 10, 15 4:15 PM
No noise from the "blue collar" crowd before certain hours, but hey, if you can afford to fly in, no problem, right?

Bottom line is you can't make everyone happy. Other bottom line is that those who want to be here will find a way. The greatest weapon on Earth is not a bomb, missile or gun. It is fear.
By Mr. Z (9303), North Sea on Mar 10, 15 4:39 PM
1 member liked this comment
Misinformation campaigns distributed out by airport proponents aHe nothing new; refer to the templates previously used by the disingenuous East hampton Aviation Association, campaigns which, incidentally, failed miserably for the Standzione and Wilkinson crowd, aviation proponents extraordinaire.
Yes, that was interesting, watching worms squirm.
Residents have right on their side, all the aviation crowd wants is to continue to reap profits and try to litigate the Town into submission. ...more
By Trish (89), Sag Harbor on Mar 10, 15 6:09 PM
The only greed here is for the survival of the east end….. If you don’t like it MOVE MOVE MOVE! We have always survived by tourists. The transportation has evolved, from cars, to train, to bus, to plane, to helicopters…… They keep all our families above the rest of the country economically speaking….. So what, do away with the helicopters, next the seaplanes, then the small planes, then the train, then the jitney, then the cars???

Let the median house values ...more
By kevinlocal (47), wainscott on Mar 10, 15 10:25 PM
1 member liked this comment
Yes, you should stay, you fit perfectly out here. I, I, I, me, me, me. You're a poster child for the people who ''need'' this airport.
By GG Alin (11), Southampton on Mar 11, 15 7:18 AM
2 members liked this comment
Stop thinking the anti-airport groups are altruistic, most of them are real estate developers and builders!!!! Just because he is trying to make a living and survive doesn't make him a bad person. get over yourself, if it was your job on the line you would be thinking differently.
By evan.catarelli (7), Wainscott on Mar 11, 15 4:23 PM
2 members liked this comment
The ranks of the noise abatement proponents are mostly working folks, some from the North Fork are farmers, and there are Shelter islanders, folk from Noyac and North Sea, from Stony Brook and Wading River, Hampton Bays and Southampton---need I go on! They want to sleep at night, to enjoy their summer and protect their families from fuel emissions like thinking folks do. they do not have development dreams, just nightmares from aviation noise.
Others are retired, no one is a developer. ...more
By Trish (89), Sag Harbor on Mar 11, 15 6:06 PM