EAST HAMPTON, new york – Ah, the summer in the Hamptons. Cocktail party. Beach meetings. Celebrities. But for some of the eastern Long Island residents, the annual arrival of the “jetset” also brings the thumpety-thump of helicopters and the whine of aircraft engines.
This season, plane buzz, aimed at the small municipal airport in East Hampton, could be worse than it has in years.
Last fall, a federal court of appeals struck night-time curfew and restrictions on the frequency of “noisy” flights that city officials had imposed on the East Hampton Airport, which serves as a hub for rich tourists zipping in New York City and points beyond.
The judge said that only the Federal Aviation Administration has the authority to regulate the hours of operation.
The city asked the Supreme court of the V. S. to hear an appeal, but in the meantime, some fed-up Hamptons’ residents say they now want the airport closed completely. It is something Santa Monica, California, decided to similar problems earlier this year.
“The choppers — you can almost feel them coming before you hear them,” says Patricia Currie, a Noyac resident, who lives about 7 miles (11 km) from the airport. “Very slowly, the sound becomes louder and louder. It gives you the time to bang for the cause. There is a feeling of anxiety, even though you know that it’s going to succeed.”
Although the airport is located on Long Island’s south shore, approximately 75 miles (120 kilometers) east of New York City, complaints about aircraft clattering stretch to the communities many miles away. Adam Irving, who vacations in the Orient on the northeastern tip of Long Island, about 8 miles (13 kilometers) from East Hampton says low flying helicopters are often annoyances.
“The whole eastern end of Long Island has a very low ambient noise environment, so when these things fly over, it is very pronounced,” he said. “The total noise per overpass will take two-and-a-half to three minutes. First, you will feel the low-end bass, then the flop-flop noise. You can feel it in your body and leave your walls.”
The town of East Hampton, who said that it recorded 24,000 complaints of July 4, 2016, through Sept. 30, 2016, thought it was aimed at the problem when the laws in 2015 to block flights between 11 pm to 8 am and once per week to limit in the plane are considered to be noisy, according to the FAA noise standards, between May and September.
An industrial group with the name Friends of East Hampton Airport, fought back in court. The city was not under the FAA rules because it had stopped receiving any funding from the agency for a number of years ago.
The airport of $2.9 million in landing fees, rental, lease and other revenues in 2016 and the year ended with a nearly $600,000 surplus. The income generated by the airport will be used for the financing of the city’s legal battles, with a cost of $1.9 million in the past three years, said councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez.
She said the city is hoping to win the court fight and keep the airport working with some of the restrictions are restored.
Burke-Gonzalez said she is hopeful at least some of the companies that run flights through the airport, will voluntarily restrict night flights. The earliest the airport could close, if that is what the city decided, would be 2021.
The challenge of the court ruling and the request to have the case heard by the Supreme Court is supported by New York City.
“The responsibility to protect the local residents from the aviation noise has traditionally been worn primarily by local, governmental airport owners,” the city wrote in a court filing.
The International Municipal Lawyers Association also filed a brief in support of the city. “We see this as an impact on the municipalities across the country,” said Amanda Kellar, director of the legal advocacy.
Earlier this year, the Southern California city of Santa Monica said it would be close to the airport and replaced by a park with 2028. The residents raised concerns about noise, air pollution and the risk of aircraft crashing into the neighborhoods.
East Hampton recently retained the law firm that represented Santa Monica in the hope of bargaining restrictions is subject to the FAA.
A spokesman for the FAA has no comment. Lawyers for the Friends of East Hampton Airport do not respond to messages.
John Kelly, director of operations for the Coast of Aviation, an operator of the water planes that use the airport, said that his company has endeavoured to fly at higher altitudes until it’s close to the airport to reduce noise complaints.
“We try to do what we can to improve the problem,” Kelly said. “We try to offer alternative routes, so that the same houses are not constantly bombarded by noise.”
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