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Dec 8, 2011 3:59 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Anti-Noise Group Fails In Bid To Stop East Hampton Town From Seeking Airport Grant

Dec 13, 2011 4:42 PM

Anti-noise activists failed in their first attempt to prevent East Hampton Town from seeking a Federal Aviation Administration grant, falling short of convincing a judge to block the action during a hearing in New York State Supreme Court last Wednesday, December 7.

The activists, some of whom are members of the Committee to Stop Airport Expansion, claim that the contractual obligations that come attached to FAA grants prevent the town from regulating air traffic and noise at East Hampton Airport.

The East Hampton Town Board unanimously agreed to seek a grant for the design of a perimeter fence around the airport last Tuesday, December 6, with members saying they would explore new ways of mitigating noise while under contract with the FAA.

Jeff Bragman, an attorney for the Committee to Stop Airport Expansion, argued during the two-hour court hearing for a temporary restraining order to prevent the town from 
seeking the grant, but Justice John J.J. Jones Jr. rejected the request.

On Thursday, Mr. Bragman said a temporary restraining order is “very hard to get against anybody, much less a town,” and that the Coalition to Stop Airport Expansion will continue to try to get a preliminary injunction preventing the town from seeking the grant.

The Committee to Stop Airport Expansion is currently locked in a lawsuit with the town over the town’s Airport Master Plan, a document that is necessary for the municipality to apply for FAA grants. The committee filed the lawsuit last year, claiming the town did not conduct a proper environmental review before approving the plan.

Town Board members hailed the court’s decision on Thursday.

“The court’s support for our bipartisan, unanimous Town 
Board decision advances the prospects for comprehensive management strategies that place a high value on safety, 
fiscal responsibility and a 
much quieter airport,” Councilman Dominick Stanzione, the Town Board’s liaison to the airport, said in a press release. “We are a step closer to really reducing the impact of aviation noise.”

The FAA received the town’s grant application last Tuesday afternoon, according to the press release, shortly after the Town Board agreed to seek it.

The East Hampton Aviation Association, an advocacy group made up of pilots and airport users, also applauded the court’s decision in a press release the day after the hearing.

“The East Hampton Aviation Association hailed the court’s decision as confirmation that the town had lawfully rendered its decision on the issue of the deer fencing and the policy of using FAA funds at the East Hampton Town Airport,” said Harold Levy, president of the Aviation Association.

The Aviation Association and the town both argued in court against the restraining order.

Mr. Bragman dismissed the opposite side’s celebration, saying there’s still a chance the court could block the grant.

“For them to say the court has embraced their project is an exaggeration,” he said. “This is too serious for PR treatment, sound bite treatment.”

David Gruber, a member of the Committee to Stop Airport Expansion, acknowledged last week that it is difficult to obtain an injunction against a municipality, but said his group could still block the FAA grant if it wins its lawsuit and the court invalidates the town’s Airport Master Plan.

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The headline and article are a bit misleading in my opinion.

The temporary restraining order (TRO) sought here is simply the first of many procedural steps when one litigant seeks redress from another. Courts rarely grant TRO's, so the denial of one here is by no means a "failure" in the context of this complicated and long-standing dispute, as the headline and article would suggest.

Mr. James and 27east are usually more precise in their reporting, and it is not helpful that ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Dec 8, 11 8:35 PM
Airport opponents have cost the Town of East Hampton millions over the years after failing to grasp the 'nuance' involved in thoroughly researching their real estate purchases. Alternatively, perhaps they actually were able to recognize that locating in close proximity to an airport would result in their being unhappy about the inherent noise. This possibility does make it more plausible that their ultimate goal is actually to achieve closure of the airport, since it is unlikely that any municipality ...more
By M. O'Connor (147), Southampton on Dec 8, 11 10:11 PM
2 members liked this comment
Who cares if the airport closes? Honestly, except for a builder with an anger management problem and a few from the top 1% who cares if the airport closes? In fact, can anyone please explain why a civilian, living in the Hamptons should EVER care about the East Hampton Airport? Time to close it up, especially if its costing the Town of East Hampton millions. Sounds like East Hampton is the most destitute hamlet in the country, with an airport?
By Brelane (16), Southampton on Dec 10, 11 7:44 AM
I thought so.
By Brelane (16), Southampton on Dec 11, 11 7:15 AM