Too early for aviation celebrations at East Hampton

east hampton airport battle
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East Hampton Airport

The Battle May Not Be Over

1. Airports have neighbors.east hampton airport town board

2. Airports generate revenues for local communities.

3. Aircraft generate noise.

4. Communities do not like noise.

5. Win/win solutions need to be found.

The battle over East Hampton is a prime example of this syllogism.

The headlinesdeclaring victory, predicting further conflicts, seeking new strategies, and on and on—signal that the battle over East Hampton Airport and the abortive attempt to impose access restrictions may not be over.

east hampton airport access restrictions

KNTO is in the midst of Long Island’s very posh summer destinations. It is also a VERY long drive from Manhattan for anyone seeking some time at the beaches; thus, air services over the congested highways has become an attractive option for those who can afford it.

knto long island airport

The increased operations have infuriated the neighbors, summer and year around alike. The town of East Hampton enacted sections of its code intended to limit access to KNTO and under the general goal of reducing noise:

  • A year-round general curfew, which was in effect from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily
  • A year-round extended curfew for “noisy” aircraft, which was in effect from 8 p.m. to 9 a.m. daily
  • A summertime one-trip-per-week limit for aircraft deemed by the town to be “noisy”town of east hampton

USDC Judge SeybertLitigation ensued and the parties spent a lot of time and money all the way up to the Supreme Court (cert. denied) and back where USDC Judge Seybert issued a permanent injunction prohibiting the enforcement of the Code.

The courts have defined what may be done; so, the parties know the rules. While the aviation parties’ position was affirmed, this should not, cannot, be a zero sum game. Now is the time for the operators, FBOs, GA pilots and associations to assess options which are practical, economic and legal, but which do not represent the maximum noise exposure allowed. While the anti-airport advocates have announced various strategies, there are risks (the bill may/may not pass the legislature and the state act may not pass federal standards) and costs to try to gain their zero sum position.

The aviation parties are far more likely to define practical solutions than any legislator, consultant or judge. By initiating a compromise now, it is more probable that a realistic, long term set of rules will be put in place.

Yes, the courts affirmed the law, but anyone who watched the battle of Santa Monica KNOWS that laws are not immutable.


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