Quieter skies could be coming; East Hampton board imposes restrictions

04/17/2015 10:40 AM |
AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO  The East Hampton Town Board Thursday night voting on restrictions on aircraft flying into and out of East Hampton Airport. From left, Councilman Fred Overton, Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, Supervisor  Larry Cantwell, Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc and Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez.

The East Hampton Town Board Thursday night voting on restrictions on aircraft flying into and out of East Hampton Airport. From left, Councilman Fred Overton, Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, Supervisor Larry Cantwell, Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc and Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez. (Credit: Ambrose Clancy)

The East Hampton Town Board voted Thursday night to place restrictions on flights into and out of its airport.

The board unanimously voted to impose a complete shut down of flights into or out of the airport from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. and banned what it has termed “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, with Councilman Fred Overton the lone dissenter, saying it was too restrictive and would hurt business interests.

It’s expected the laws will be ready to enforce by the Memorial Day Weekend.

The vote Thursday is the result of years of aviation noise complaints from residents of the East End, which is in the flight path of commuter flights from Manhattan into the Hamptons.

When the laws were finally adopted, many in the audience of about 70 people stood and applauded.

But the aviation industry and some local businesses, which have organized under the name of Friends of the East Hampton Airport, were “disappointed,” in the words of their spokesman, Loren Riegelhaupt. In a statement released immediately after the vote, Mr.  Riegelhaup said the vote will “violate the law and result in dramatic loss in revenue for the airport and Town. We are now forced to consider legal action to remedy this unfortunate situation.”

Shelter Island Supervisor Jim Dougherty attended the meeting and said he was pleased with the new legislation, although he — along with many anti-noise activists — was unhappy that another restriction, to ban all helicopters into East Hampton, was scrapped two weeks ago.

The East Hampton board had received powerful push back by elected officials from neighboring South Fork towns and villages about the helicopter ban, claiming it would only succeed in bringing them into their communities.

Mr. Dougherty castigated those officials for  timidity and not standing with the East Hampton board.

Kathleen Cunningham, chairwoman of the Quite Skies Coalition, said after the vote that her group was  disappointed as well with the scrapping of the chopper ban, but nevertheless, the vote Thursday was “an historic” occasion.

She noted that East Hampton will still book complaints of excessive aircraft noise over the East End from residents, and if there is a considerable numbers of complaints, the board can revisit the chopper ban sometime this summer.

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