Civic loses court battle to stop JFK expansion

By Juan Soto

A federal appeals court dismissed the lawsuit filed by the Eastern Queens Alliance, a nonprofit representing thousands of borough residents, seeking to stop the runway expansion at Kennedy Airport

“We lost the appeal,” Clyde Vanel, the attorney for the civic group, said Wednesday.

During oral arguments, Vanel had asked the three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan to order the Federal Aviation Administration to complete an environmental study to determine if the expansion would have a significant impact on the residents who live in the area.

But the court dismissed the lawsuit.

Now the Eastern Queens group is considering taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“It’s early to know if we will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court,” he said.

The ruling clears the airport to move on with the project, an expansion that consists of adding 728 feet to the tarmac from the current 11,351 feet to 12,079. The runway would be about 600 feet closer to the community, affecting Springfield Gardens and Rosedale.

The project, which will cost $292 million, also includes widening the runway 4L/22R and replacing the existing asphalt and constructing high-speed taxiways. The work would allow for landing planes to exit the runway faster and with a bigger runway, the international airport can accommodate larger planes, including Airbus 380, the double-decker passenger aircraft.

Days after the federal appeals court’s ruling, the civic association began asking borough residents to sign a petition calling on the Obama administration to propose a revision of the Federal Aviation Authority’s noise standards.

The petition asks Congress and the FAA “to revisit the FAA’s health and safety standards for noise exposure in light of technological and scientific advancement and discovery.”

It pointed out that communities in eastern Queens and “airport-adjacent communities across the nation are overburdened and it isn’t fair.”

According to the Eastern Queens Alliance, a federation of civic associations from southeast Queens, studies have shown that people living within a 6-mile radius of an airport “may be at risk of dying prematurely from an environmental carcinogen, such as chemicals associated with airports.”

The group said that using the 65 Day-Night Noise Level as the threshold for noise pollution “is outdated and that significant health effects can be attained at exposure above 55.”

Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at jsoto‌@cngl‌ocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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