Plaintiffs in Suit over New York City Air Traffic Are Pleased with FAA's Response Brief

FEBRUARY 08, 2009

Area towns are encouraged by the Federal Aviation Administration’s latest response to a lawsuit challenging the FAA’s airspace redesign plan for New York City airports.

The FAA plans to redirect planes descending to LaGuardia Airport over southern Fairfield County and areas of New York at peak travel times. Communities that will be impacted have objected largely on the basis of noise, safety, air quality, and other environmental impacts.

The 13-town Alliance for Sensible Airspace Planning, which includes Redding and many other Fairfield County towns, joined with groups in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rockland County, N.Y., and the state of Connecticut in filing independent lawsuits against the FAA. Those lawsuits were consolidated into a single case in the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals on March 18, 2008 (Case No. 07-1363). For current news on the consolidated lawsuits see Aviation & Airport Development Law Blog.

The FAA issued its response to the latest brief filed in the suit. “We’re very pleased with the brief from the FAA, because it has helped establish that many legal points we’ve raised are valid and worth pursuing,” said Weston First Selectman Woody Bliss, who is also the co-vice chairman of the airspace alliance. “Our partners in Fairfield County have worked very well together to raise consciousness of the airspace redesign plan, which will have such adverse effects on all citizens.” The executive committee of the alliance has held 24 meetings in the last 18 months, Mr. Bliss said.

Towns in the alliance have agreed to split costs associated with filing the lawsuit, acquiring lobbyists and beginning a grass-roots organization. Redding’s portion, which was approved by town officials, totals about $59,609. “We have decided not to go back to the towns for more money,” Mr. Bliss said. The money already contributed — a total of $1,012,412 — should be sufficient, especially since there are also successful private fund-raising efforts underway, he said.

The alliance has until March 6 to respond to the FAA’s response.