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Mar 7, 2017 3:06 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton Appeals To U.S. Supreme Court For Airport Control

Mar 7, 2017 3:13 PM

East Hampton Town officials announced on Tuesday that they have filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court asking that the powers it believes the town holds to impose curfews at the East Hampton Airport be reinstated.

The 130-page petition outlines the question of whether federal laws seeking to prevent private airport owners from interrupting interstate transportation bind the town, or the owners of other small airports, from imposing any limitations on aircraft use of its runways in the face of noise affecting surrounding residents.

The petition was filed on behalf of the town by Kathleen Sullivan, a former Stanford Law School dean who has argued a number of cases before the nation’s highest court, and David M. Cooper, an attorney from the same Los Angeles-based firm, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. Town officials said they’ve been told that the high court should notify the attorneys in three to four months about whether it will hear the case.

In 2015, the town’s curfews at the airport were blocked by the U.S. Court of Appeals after lawsuits challenging the flight restrictions were filed by a group of aviation industry companies.

A federal judge allowed the curfews to remain in place through two summers, but the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last fall that local municipalities do not have the power to impose limitations on the use of their airports that supersede FAA rules, even if they haven’t accepted federal funding.

A statement from the town this week called the decision “an unprecedented expansion of federal regulatory authority.”

“For the last three years, this Town Board has been fighting to regain local control of our airport,” Supervisor Larry Cantwell said in a statement. “We followed the FAA’s advice and elected to forgo federal funding so that we could protect our residents. We engaged in a lengthy public process to identify meaningful but reasonable restrictions, and the District Court agreed that we met that test.

“But, with the stroke of a pen,” the supervisor continued, “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. We cannot let that decision stand.”

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