Jul 29, 2014

UPDATED: Court Upholds East Hampton Airport Master Plan

Supreme court decision states town adequately considered the issues of noise impacts and runway choice.

UPDATED: Court Upholds East Hampton Airport Master Plan

The New York State Supreme Court ruled to uphold the East Hampton Airport Master Plan and Airport Layout Plan that the town adopted , the East Hampton Aviation Association announced on Thursday.

In a landmark decision, the association said in a statement, the court issued an 11-page decision dismissing the case brought by David Gruber and his Committee to Stop Airport Expansion.

A copy of the decision has been attached to this article.

The court ruled that Gruber and the other opponents "have not produced any competent evidence to controvert the analyses prepared by the Town, and thus, have not established that the Town failed to take a 'hard look' at the impacts or lacked 'reasoned elaboration' for its analyses and findings. . . . Accordingly, the Court denies the petition in its entirety."

The plans, first adopted in September 2010, call for closing of one runway, the repair of another runway, and connecting two taxiways. The aviation association said local pilots have been asking for the repair of Runway 4-22, the short runway, necessary for small planes to make safe landings at the airport since 1989.

“We are thrilled that the way has been cleared for the repair work at the airport,” said Paul Sheerer, a member of the aviation association board.

“Now, we urge the town to proceed with the repair of the runway without further delay," said Tom Twomey a director of the aviation association and voluntary member of its legal committee.

According to the aviation's attornies, opponents tried to get the court to issue a temporary restraining order, which was denied, and then took their case to the Appellate Division and ultimately to the Court of Appeals, where they were denied, again. The latest ruling is the fourth ruling won by the town in this case.

"An Appeal of this decision will be a waste of time,” said Anthony Pasca, an attorney for the association. “The appellate courts have already decided the Gruber challenge to the airport Plans lacked merit,” he said.

Jeffrey Bragman, an attorney for the petitioners, said on Thursday afternoon, "A fight is not over in the first round. We have always anticipated that  further judicial review would be required."

He said the Court did reject some of the town's "smoke screens:  i.e. that the environmental review was voluntary, or that the proposed airport changes could not have environmental impacts. The key issues will be reviewed again."

In the decision, the court also said: "It is clear that the FGEIS [Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement] has adequately considered the issue of noise impacts, and the issue of runway choice. An extensive review of the record, and specifically the FGEIS and the documents incorporated therein, reveals that the Town has adequately reviewed and analyzed the impact of noise considering the DNL standard while taking into account the single event noise data."

“In view of the court ruling and the success of the Town's new airport control tower, we hope that the airport opponents will finally take a more constructive approach to noise reduction at the airport and stop attacking the Town and local taxpayers with expensive and baseless legal actions,” said Harold Levy, a member of the board of directors.

The association claims that the airport opponents cost the town taxpayers to spend "staggering amounts of money fighting meritless legal proceedings in the opponents' effort to shut down various airport operations" over the last 20 years.

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