Getting Ready for the Big Helicopter Meeting

Helicopter restrictions are on the table at the East Hampton Airport
Helicopter restrictions are on the table at the East Hampton Airport | LTV Photo

Update:

East Hampton’s public hearing on airport noise issues has been postponed to March 12 at 4:30 p.m. at LTV Studios, due to a snowstorm on March 5.

Original Story Below:

East Hampton Town is hosting a public hearing next Thursday, March 5 on a long-awaited series of four proposed local laws aimed at curbing noisy aircraft at the airport.

The town is anticipating a large crowd from all over the East End, and is hosting the meeting at LTV Studios, 75 Industrial Road in Wainscott, at 4:30 p.m., in the hopes of enabling more people to attend than can fit in the town hall meeting room.

The proposed rules differ slightly from those originally pitched by the town’s consultants the first week in February, which has many quiet skies advocates concerned that they could lead to an explosion in seaplane traffic over the East End.

Under the revisions, turboprop aircraft would not be limited by the one-round-trip-per-week limitation and the 8 p.m. to 9 a.m. curfew.

According to the Quiet Skies Coalition’s Facebook page, “those changes seem to us to carry critical practical and legal risks… It is likely that there will be an explosion of seaplane traffic because of the weekend ban on helicopters and the 8 p.m. to 9 a.m. curfew on noisy helicopters. Residents relieved of helicopter noise on the North and South Forks and residents relieved of jet noise in East Hampton Village will be the victims of that seaplane explosion.”

The proposed restrictions include a mandatory nighttime curfew, from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., an extended curfew on noisy aircraft (not including turboprops) from 8 p.m. to 9 a.m., a ban on all helicopters on weekends during the summer season and a limit on operations by noisy aircraft of one trip per week during the summer season.

If approved, they would be in force for a trial period between May 1 and Oct. 31 of this year, after which they would be evaluated and the town board would discuss whether to make the regulations permanent or modify them.

The full text versions of the local laws are online here:

Regarding Night-Time Operation

Regarding Night-Time and Early Morning Operation of Noisy Aircraft

Helicopter Operation Regulations

Regulating Operation of Noisy Aircraft

An exhaustive bank of files on the town’s discussions on airport regulations is online here.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell and Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, the town board liaison to the airport, flew to Washington, D.C. on Friday “to meet with the FAA and have a discussion about the issues which are of concern ot the town with respect to the airport,” said Mr. Cantwell at the town board’s Feb. 26 meeting.

They took a commercial flight out of Islip/MacArthur Airport in the wee hours of the morning.

“I’m not sure there are too many helicopter operators that are willing to give board members a ride,” he joked. “Not that it would be appropriate that we’d take it.”

Members of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, who attended that meeting, issued a report Friday urging aircraft owners to turn out for the March 5 hearing.

Community groups across the East End are also rallying, including in Southold Town, where the town’s helicopter noise steering committee is circulating a petition and planning car pools and perhaps a bus to Wainscott for the hearing on Thursday.

A good deal of the helicopter traffic to and from the East Hampton Airport is routed along the North Shore of Long Island, and then transitions over the North Fork in the Mattituck/Cutchogue/Peconic area on its final approach to the airport.

A seperate MoveOn.org petition to stop noise at the airport also has garnered more than 700 signatures.

“We will get some relief,” Ms. McCaskie told the Southold Town Board at Town Supervisor Scott Russell’s State of the Town address Feb. 26. “It won’t be a silver bullet, but we have to start somewhere.”

Mr. Russell was cautiously optimistic about the plans afoot in East Hampton.

“We are making progress, but we have a long way to go,” he said in his State of the Town address.

For those unable to attend the March 5 hearing, comments  can be submitted via email to HTOComments@EHamptonNY.gov.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Please prove you're human: