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Feb 5, 2013 4:20 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Process Could Lead To Helicopter Restrictions At East Hampton Airport, Consultants Tell Board

Feb 5, 2013 5:56 PM

The East Hampton Town Board is inching closer to completing a process that could allow the town to apply to the federal government for restrictions on helicopter traffic at the East Hampton Airport.

A team of aviation consultants, which included Peter J. Kirsch, the town’s aviation attorney, and a partner at Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell LLP, and Ted Baldwin, a senior vice president of the consulting firm Harris Miller Miller & Hanson Inc., updated the Town Board about airport issues at the board’s work session on Tuesday morning. Councilman Dominick Stanzione, the liaison to airport issues, arranged the meeting.

The consultants told board members that within 18 months, and at a cost of about $1.5 million to $2 million, the town could be in a position to apply to the Federal Aviation Administration for a formal Part 161 study—a mechanism that could ultimately allow the town to restrict noisy helicopter traffic.

Town officials have been collecting data on traffic at the airport in the last year, including criteria like noise complaints, flight tracks, aircraft types and owners, according to Mr. Baldwin. The next step is to integrate that information, find trends and use it to identify problems and come up with potential restrictions, he said. Solutions could include creating a “slot system” where only a fixed number of helicopters could fly in per hour on the weekend, limiting hours at the airport or creating a requirement that helicopters fly at a certain altitude. “We’re looking for guidance from you,” Mr. Baldwin told the board. “It’s time to fish or cut bait.”

Mr. Kirsch advised the Town Board to be precise in defining the “problem.” Just simply saying no noise anywhere won’t work, he said. The data collected must specifically address the problem, he said.

“The more we refine the problem, the better our chance of success is going forward,” Mr. Kirsch said.

Supervisor Bill Wilkinson pointed to the up-front cost and asked how likely it would be that the town would be ultimately successful in achieving aircraft restrictions. “What’s the degree of success in a $2 million investment?” he said.

Mr. Kirsch highlighted that “success” doesn’t necessarily have to mean restrictions, and pointed out that it’s possible helicopter operators could come to the table and agree to a number of things “after walking over hot coals.” But he also emphasized that the more broadly defined the problem is, the less successful the process will be.

It could cost the town up to $500,000 to compile the data, Mr. Baldwin said. Airport Manager Jim Brundige said that money isn’t currently in the town’s airport budget.

“That’s wonderful,” Mr. Wilkinson said. “Where are we going to get the $500,000?”

The rest of the presentation covered a number of topics, including the recently established seasonal air traffic control tower, improving data collection technology, new helicopter routes and costs of upcoming projects. The consultants also noted that they have had a continued dialogue with the FAA to secure funding from the federal agency for a perimeter deer fence. The total cost of the fence, with design and construction work, is $655,000, according to a presentation by the consultants. The FAA is waiting for the town to approve a resolution committing to construct a perimeter fence before issuing a grant to the municipality to begin doing so.

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the residents of Bridgehampton thank you however why is it that the EAST HAMPTON airport has to cause so much grtief to the SOUTHAMPTON Town residents??? the planes use the Pres church steeple and the BH school for markers to EH airport. WHY do the people of the hamlet of Bridgehampton have to deal with this noise??? Bring the planes and helicopters into and through East Hampton Village and you will hear voices above and beyond to stop the noise. If EH airport is in EH why are we residents of ...more
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Feb 5, 13 7:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
Are you suggesting that no residents of Sagaponack, Bridgehampton, Water Mill, Southampton, etc., use the East Hampton airport? David Buda
By davbud (127), east hampton on Feb 6, 13 10:09 AM
According to the Town's experts, 18 months and 2 million dollars, at least, are necessary to prepare a noise study and an application to the FAA which probably won't grant the noise abatement relief requested. The solution? Allow FAA control of the airport to end January 2015 by rejecting federal grant money for the airport.
Ending federal control in 2015 permits local control and reasonable non-discriminatory restrictions including banning non-emergency helicopter use of EH airport and making ...more
By danrudan (40), Southampton on Feb 6, 13 11:06 AM
1 member liked this comment
WHen the TB changed the helo route this past summer, they destoryed the quiet use and enjoyment of thousands of persons living in North Sea, Noyac & Sag Harbor to and from the Airport. We reap nothing from it but aggravation. I didnt purchase my home anywhere near an airport, yet I now suffer from it. The routes need to come over the water through Sag Harbor GC then and from the south over the Atlantic and straigh up Georgica These are the two least populated routes and they should be mandated.
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Feb 6, 13 12:42 PM
Umm. I live in Georgica and vote the flight path stays over you neighborhood North Sea Citizen.
By wainscotter (18), wainscott on Feb 6, 13 1:46 PM
The $million(s) for any studies need to come out of airport operating funds. Increase fees for use of the airport, esp. for helicopters.
By zaz (197), East Hampton on Feb 6, 13 2:23 PM