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Dec 21, 2010 4:54 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Concerns Over Airport Noise Spur Lawsuit In East Hampton

Dec 21, 2010 4:54 PM

A group of residents who live near East Hampton Airport have filed suit against the East Hampton Town Board, claiming officials did not adequately address the issue of aircraft noise when they plotted a course for the future of the facility.

The six plaintiffs, who filed the lawsuit in State Supreme Court on November 18, are seeking to reverse the town’s September decision to accept the updated East Hampton Airport Master Plan, an outline for future improvements to the facility that has been in the works for some 20 years.

The Town Board last Thursday, December 16, hired attorney Eric Bregman of the Southampton firm Gilmartin & Bregman, LLP, to represent it in the matter at a rate of $290 per hour. Councilwoman Theresa Quigley this week said she could not comment on pending litigation and Supervisor Bill Wilkinson did not return a call seeking comment.

The plaintiffs all live within 2.5 miles of the airport, and have filed suit as The Committee to Stop Airport Expansion. All six claim that their lives have been disrupted by the noise of passing aircraft, which they say wakes them up at night, rattles their windows and interrupts their conversations.

One of the plaintiffs, Frank Dalene of Wainscott, said he has been tormented for about five years by helicopters passing over his house on their way in to or out of the airport, sometimes coming as close as 50 feet to his roof.

“It’s literally shaking the ground under my feet, when this helicopter comes in,” he said. “I’m getting damage to my house, nails popping. And, you know, it’s totally disruptive. You can’t carry on a conversation.”

The other plaintiffs include David Gruber of East Hampton, Barbara Miller of Wainscott, Robert and Barbara Wolfram of Sag Harbor and Stephen Levine of Southampton.

Their lawsuit claims that when the town studied the environmental impacts of the updated master plan over the last year it skirted over the issue of noise. The environmental impact study, it claims, ignored thousands of noise complaints and used faulty standards when it concluded that there was no 
significant noise problem resulting from the airport anywhere in the town. The Town Board accepted the findings of the study on September 2, when it approved the updates to the master plan.

The plan, drafted by a team of consultants hired by the Town Board, proposes 14 projects, including repaving and reopening runway 4-22, which has been closed for repairs, as well as closing runway 16-34 and turning it into a taxiway. The main runway, 10-28, remains unchanged. It also calls for the installation of a seasonal air traffic 
control tower, deer fencing around the airport and landside development, which would allow commercial enterprises 
to buy and use some of the 
land around the airport.

The environmental study of the plan, which is known as a Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement, or FGEIS, was submitted to the board in August by the firm Young Environmental Sciences, Inc. The 128-page document devotes a total of 39 pages to the issue of noise, and states “Noise impacts are a major concern at East Hampton; therefore, an extensive analysis of existing and expected future impacts was performed.”

It ultimately concludes that all of the proposed projects will either have no effect on airport noise, only cause noise temporarily during construction, or even help abate noise in the long term.

The lawsuit takes issue with the methods the consultants used to measure and forecast noise in the areas surrounding the airport, calling them “inadequate” and saying the study “failed to address noise impacts in any real detail.”

Mr. Dalene, who has compiled videos of helicopters passing over his house and posted them on a website, said he was surprised by the study’s findings, and said they “totally disregard actual data.”

“Not only was I shocked—the information that was provided by the GEIS is so misleading about noise, the noise studies, so misleading, I believe it is fraudulent,” he said. “It is so wrong.”

The issue of noise, particularly the buzzing of helicopters, has been a major sticking point during public hearings in the years leading up to the approval of the plan this fall.

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So how many lawsuits has the new Gestapo Regime, sorry I meant the Wilkinson Team been served with so far in their less than 1 year in office?

By Bilge Water (131), Southampton on Dec 30, 10 11:51 AM
Gestapo Regime's murder people you idiot!
These people have been making trouble for years and are not suing the Town Board they're suing the taxpayers of East Hampton because they made the mistake of buying property near the airport. They are spoiled brats and need the spanking they never got while growing up with that silver spoon sticking out of their butt.
By montaukman (98), easthampton on Jan 4, 11 5:13 PM
1 member liked this comment
The amount of noise from the airport has increased exponentially in the last two years. It does not only affect people living within a one mile radius of the airport, as suggested, but affects a good portion of Long Island. There is little to no regulation of what time planes and helicopters take off and land, going on well into the night and early morning hours. This is not about having a "silver spoon", rather this is a quality of life issue that is affecting many to the benefit of very few. ...more
By Barbara Wainscott (5), Wainscott on Aug 14, 11 12:46 PM