Appellate court hears arguments in commercial air traffic lawsuit

By Globe Staff, 8/5/2001

History clashed with commerce in federal court Thursday in a case that could
have a long-term impact on commercial air traffic at Hanscom Field.

A three-judge panel of Boston's First Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral
arguments in the case of ''Save Our Heritage, et al v. Federal Aviation

The coalition of preservation groups, joined by the towns of Concord,
Bedford, Lexington, and Lincoln argued that in approving Shuttle America
flights from Hanscom to New York's LaGuardia Airport last October, the FAA
failed to conduct a proper review of impact on hundreds of nearby historic
sites, including Minute Man National Historical Park and Walden Pond. They
claim that the FAA violated its obligations under Section 106 of the
National Historic Preservation Act, the National Environmental Policy Act,
and Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act. They seek a remand
to the agency for compliance.

Friend of the court briefs have been filed by the National Trust for
Historic Preservation, and Secretary of State William Galvin, representing
the Massachusetts Historical Commission. The FAA is joined in the case by
intervenors Shuttle America and Massport, which owns Hanscom. They maintain
that the petitioners have no standing and that the FAA review was proper.

Although Shuttle America ceased flying to LaGuardia on June 15, largely
because of problems from its bankruptcy, precedents from the case could
affect future commercial service. Boston Maine Airways and Midway Airlines
have expressed an interest in using Hanscom.

Attorney Andrea Ferster presented arguments for the petitioners. M. Alice
Thurston, Justice Department attorney representing the FAA, and Roscoe
Trimmier Jr., representing Massport, split the arguments for the
respondents. A ruling is not expected for weeks.

Kerry Drohan

This story ran on page W4 of the Boston Globe on 8/5/2001.
Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company.
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