Helicopter companies and others seeking to block local control of East Hampton Town Airport got some good news recently when a judge ordered officials to complete an extensive impact review. Only in the topsy-turvy world of government could an honest effort by a town to reduce noise and air pollution be required to submit to an analysis of such a move’s negative effect on the environment. So, while this study is being completed, air traffic will continue to thunder over the North and South Forks, as well as add chemical and particulate contamination to the atmosphere and the waters.
East Hampton Town has appealed Justice Paul J. Baisley Jr.’s Oct. 19 decision that it must first follow the State Environmental Quality Review Act before taking any action at the airport. If his ruling ultimately stands, the process could take years, given its complexity and the certainty that it would be litigated by the pro-airport side, which was overjoyed at the news.
One can fault town officials for not having a plan in place by last fall, when the Federal Aviation Administration ceded its veto power over anything having to do with the airport, and for not anticipating its vulnerability to a SEQRA challenge. However, all that is in the past. What now faces officials are many more months in court, with an uncertain outcome.