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East Hampton making supreme effort in chopper war

11/17/2016 3:05 PM |

East Hampton Town is taking its case to the highest court in the land to restrict access into and out of its airport by helicopters and other so called “noisy” aircraft.

On Wednesday, the East Hampton Town Board announced it would petition the United States Supreme Court in hopes it will overrule a lower court’s ruling that the town had no right to impose the specific access restrictions.

After years of aviation noise complaints from East End residents caused by commuter flights to and from Manhattan, East Hampton’s board passed legislation in April 2015 imposing a complete shut down of flights into or out of the airport from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., and banned choppers and the noisy aircraft from 8 p.m. to 9 a.m. It also passed a town law limiting noisy aircraft to a single landing and takeoff each week during the summer season.

Since then the issue has been the subject of several lawsuits. Businesses associated with the aviation industry and a helicopter pilot organization sued on restraint of trade arguments and that the town had superseded federal authority on aviation.

On Nov, 4, the U.S. Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit) in Manhattan, voted 3-0 to reverse a lower court’s decision, and said the town had no right to impose the restrictions.

“We cannot let stand unchallenged a decision that completely federalizes our small community airport,” East Hampton Supervisor Larry Cantwell said in a statement Thursday. “[The decision] strips the town of any meaningful local control of the town-owned airport. This is an unreasonable outcome that should be overturned.”

The announcement from East Hampton came one day after Southold Town said it would file a formal complaint asking that the Federal Aviation Administration to reconsider and change its extension of the North Shore helicopter route for four years.

East Hampton officials stated Thursday that they’re aware of difficulties in continuing the legal battle. “While the town acknowledges that asking for review from the Supreme Court of the United States is an uphill fight, the outcome of the Second Circuit’s decision gives [us] no choice but to undertake this endeavor,” said Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, the Town Board’s liaison to the airport, in a statement.

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