East Hampton appeals aircraft noise injunction

07/23/2015 5:37 PM |

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After spending months creating ways to minimize noise pollution created by private helicopters, the Town of East Hampton appealed a court injunction on one of three laws the town proposed in April.

The decision to appeal, made Wednesday, comes after Federal District Court Judge Joanna Seybert decided to further review the legislation that asks for the restriction of noisy aircraft trips at East Hampton Airport to once per week.

The other two laws, put in effect July 2, created mandatory nighttime curfews for the airport—one from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. and an extended curfew on noisy aircraft from 8 p.m. to 9 a.m.

“We believe all three laws are lawful and necessary to protect the quality of life on the East End,” said East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell in a statement. “These three laws are the result of careful, thoughtful, and transparent balancing by the Town Board. We are hopeful that the Court of Appeals will recognize that all three laws are essential to address the problem of excessive aircraft noise.”

This noise pollution from the trips to the South Fork stretches across the East End, affecting many who live in Southold and Shelter Island.

Southold Voice, a non-profit group, raised concerns about the air noise at their annual meeting Saturday, with locals in attendance saying the noise pollution has led to health issues and the need to soundproof their homes.

The town retained Kathleen M. Sullivan of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, to work with the town’s airport counsel on the appeal.

Others, however, agree with the judge’s decision and are against the town’s proposed legislation that would limit air traffic.

Michael Philbin, chairman of the Eastern Region Helicopter Council, said that tourism helicopters are a vital part of the local economy, generating over $30 million.

He added the industry creates hundreds of jobs, many of which are filled by military veterans, and plays a role in the city’s transportation and emergency response infrastructure.
“Most troubling is that banning tours from Manhattan will not stop air tours from flying in and around New York as that is federally regulated air space and the helicopters will simply fly to and from other venues in New York and New Jersey,” he said in a statement. “Instead, all this bill will do is eliminate hundreds of jobs and tens of millions of dollars in direct revenue to New York City.”

Members of the Friends of East Hampton Airport Coalition had no comment regarding East Hampton Town’s decision to appeal.

In 2012 the Federal Aviation Administration enacted a rule that extended into 2014, which made helicopters fly one mile off shore over the Long Island Sound and go around Orient Point on their way to the South Fork.

The rule allowed pilots to deviate from the above route when required for safety, weather conditions, or transitioning from a destination or point of landing.

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