East Hampton Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione said this week that he welcomes a “vigorous public debate” with anti-noise activists at a December 1 hearing over whether the town should accept grants from the Federal Aviation Administration for capital improvements at East Hampton Airport.
The public hearing is for a proposal for the town to request federal funds for the design and construction of a deer fence around the airport. Last week, members of the Quiet Skies Coalition, an advocacy group, said the hearing is really an attempt by Mr. Stanzione and other members of the board’s Republican majority to settle a debate over whether accepting federal funds, and the grant obligations that come with them, would help or hurt the town’s ability to control noise.
On Tuesday, Mr. Stanzione agreed.
“I’m under no illusion of the larger question involved, and I’m fully confident and supportive of that underlying meaning of the hearing: to put it in plain terms, reaffirming the ongoing relationship with the FAA,” Mr. Stanzione said.
Members of the Quiet Skies Coalition believe grant obligations keep the town from having local control over flights and mitigating noise. Mr. Stanzione and his allies believe trying to impose local restrictions on flights would invite a legal battle with the FAA that would potentially cost millions in legal fees, and millions more in forgone grants from the agency. They have advocated other measures, such as installing a control tower and charting a new route for helicopters.
Anti-noise activists also charged last week that the Town Board was attempting to hold the hearing before two new lawmakers, Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc, who side with them, take office in January. Mr. Stanzione said that “a political delay is not in the best interests of our town.”
“This Town Board has worked really hard on this issue and it deserves to have a say in its outcome,” he added.