Submit Briefs to Top Court

Word on whether the Supreme Court will hear a case involving East Hampton Town’s attempt to restrict use of its airport — now blocked by a lower court — could come by the end of June. Durell Godfrey

East Hampton Town and Friends of the East Hampton Airport have submitted legal briefs to the United States Supreme Court in the matter of East Hampton Town’s petition asking the court to review an appeals court decision against the town last fall. The nation’s highest court is expected to announce whether it will do so by the end of this month. At issue are the laws the town enacted in 2015 restricting the use of East Hampton Airport in order to reduce aircraft noise.

The appeals court decision struck down three regulations: an overnight curfew, with extended hours for noisy planes, which was in effect for two summer seasons, and a once-a-week limit on takeoffs and landings by noisy planes, which had been blocked from the start after aviation interests filed suit.

In April, the Supreme Court ordered the aviation group to file a response to East Hampton’s petition. The group asked for a three-week extension of the deadline for submitting the brief, to June 9, and the town opposed that request, asserting that the group should not be able to use an extension or waiver to push the matter into the Supreme Court’s next term because of the injunction in place preventing enforcement of the town’s regulations. The Supreme Court granted an extension until May 30, and the town’s law firm, Quinn Emanuel, filed its response within a week in an effort to make sure the petition goes before the court during its present term rather than the next one, which begins in October.

“The town board is pleased that the Supreme Court will be taking a serious look at our petition this month,” Town Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, the East Hampton Town Board’s airport liaison, said in a press release last week.

“Memorial Day weekend air traffic noise was unbearable for many residents here on the East End — destroying the peace and tranquillity they have a right to expect in their own homes. We are committed to fighting for local control of our municipal airport so that we can manage the airport in the best interests of our community, striking a balance for those affected by excessive aircraft noise and the flying public.”

Meanwhile, town officials in Southold, where residents have been affected by noise from helicopters flying to and from East Hampton Airport, sent a letter this spring to the Federal Aviation Administration asking for a change in the mandated helicopter route.

In a response dated May 16, the F.A.A. denied Southold’s request that the agency stop requiring helicopters to fly the so-called “North Shore route” along the northern border of Long Island, and instead mandate that flights to or from the South Fork use a South Shore route.