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UNITED STATES v. NEW YORK

October 14, 1982

UNITED STATES of America and Beechcraft East, Inc., Plaintiffs,
v.
The STATE OF NEW YORK and William Hennessey, As Commissioner of the Department of Transportation of the State of New York, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MINER

MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER

 MINER, District Judge.

 I

 In this action plaintiffs, the United States and Beechcraft East, Inc., seek a judgment declaring unconstitutional the statute originally introduced as New York Senate Bill No. 9450-A (S. 9450-A), entitled "AN ACT to amend the transportation law, in relation to air transportation facilities and services at Stewart and Republic airports and making appropriations therefor." Plaintiffs also seek to permanently enjoin defendants, the State of New York and William Hennessey, as Commissioner of the Department of Transportation of the State of New York, from imposing a curfew or turning off runway lights, navigation aids, and landing and take-off aids at Republic Airport, East Farmingdale, New York. The complaint is predicated upon the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, as amended, 49 U.S.C. § 1301 et seq., the Noise Control Act of 1972, as amended, 49 U.S.C. § 1431, and the Airport and Airway Development Act of 1970, 49 U.S.C. § 1701 et seq., as well as the Contract Clause of the United States Constitution, U.S.Const. Art. I, § 10, and the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, U.S. Const. Art. VI, cl. 2. *fn1" Jurisdiction is conferred upon this Court by 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1337 and 1345. Before this Court is plaintiff Beechcraft East, Inc.'s application for a preliminary injunction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 65(a).

 II

 Republic Airport, located in Suffolk County, Long Island, is a general aviation airport known as a "reliever airport." In this capacity, Republic relieves New York's major commercial airports, John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia, and Newark, of general (non-commercial) aircraft. It is one of only four airports in the New York City metropolitan area whose primary function is as a reliever airport, capable of accommodating all aircraft types, around the clock, in all weather conditions. *fn2" In addition to the importance of Republic Airport as a reliever airport, the Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA"), Eastern Region, bases its aircraft at the airport because of ready availability on short notice.

 The Metropolitan Transit Authority ("MTA") is a public benefit corporation created by special act of the New York State Legislature. N.Y. Public Authorities Law § 1260 et seq. It has the power to enter into contracts, § 1265(6), and to acquire and hold real property, § 1265(7). The MTA is independent and is not governed by the supervisory powers of the New York State Department of Transportation, § 1266(8). The MTA may be sued, § 1265(1), and held liable in tort for money damages, § 1276.

 The MTA was given the authority by the State of New York to own and operate airports in 1965. In 1967, the State authorized, pursuant to the Transportation Capital Facilities Bond Act, the creation of a state debt in the amount of $250,000,000 for the purpose of the acquisition, reconstruction and improvement of airports in the State by public benefit corporations, including the MTA. In March, 1969, the State, by the Transportation Department, for the use of the MTA, purchased 296 acres from the Farmingdale Company for the enlargement of Republic. *fn3" During the 1970s the State, for the MTA, acquired an additional 144 acres from private owners.

 On May 6, 1971, pursuant to the authority of 49 U.S.C. § 1115, the United States conveyed approximately 97 acres to the MTA, thus completing the Republic Airport site. The MTA, in exchange for the conveyance of Republic Airport property, expressly covenanted in the deed of conveyance:

 
That all facilities of the Airport developed with Federal Aid and all those usable for landing and taking off of aircraft will be available to the United States at all times, without charge, for use by aircraft of any Agency of the United States in common with other aircraft. . . .

 Deed, para. 8 (covenant 8). MTA also promised in the deed that "any subsequent transfer of property interests conveyed hereby will be made subject to all of the covenants, conditions and limitations contained in the instrument." Deed, para. 5 (covenant 5).

 During the past eleven years of MTA's ownership of Republic Airport, the United States, through the Federal Aviation Administration, has made nine grant awards to MTA for acquiring and improving the facilities at Republic. These awards totaled $6,820,782. The improvements have included, inter alia, the installation of navigational equipment, runway lighting, improvement of runway markings, and construction of drainage and fencing.

 Among the covenants included in the grant agreements are the following:

 
(1) . . . not [to] dispose of or encumber its title or other interests of the site and facilities during the period of federal interest or while the Government holds bonds, whichever is longer. (Assurance No. 10; Affidavit of Clarence Cook, Ex. H);
 
(2) The sponsor [MTA] will not enter into any transaction which would operate to deprive it of any of the rights and powers necessary to perform any or all of the covenants made herein, unless by such transaction the obligation to perform all such covenants is assumed by another public agency found by the FAA to be eligible under the Act and Regulations to assume such obligations and having the power, authority, and ...

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