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Aug 9, 2011 3:35 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Town Board Member Sees Potential Helicopter Solution On The South Shore

Aug 10, 2011 11:00 AM

It’s one of those uniquely “East End” quandaries: helicopters ferrying some of the world’s richest people from Manhattan to their weekend homes are driving some residents loopy with their frequent summer flights.

But, after years of impasse, a breakthrough of sorts could be on the horizon. East Hampton Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione reported this week that talks with the Federal Aviation Administration have yielded a credible—but far from certain—solution.

FAA officials told representatives of the five East End towns this summer that altering the rules for the airspace over Manhattan could force a larger number of helicopters from the predominant route over the north shore of Long Island, according to Mr. Stanzione, and herd the aircraft onto an alternate path along the south shore, which would take them over fewer homes.

The FAA did not return a call on Monday seeking to confirm the proposal.

Mr. Stanzione said he and FAA officials have been looking for an “administrative” fix to the helicopter problem since legislation that would have given the FAA explicit authority to regulate helicopter traffic failed recently. FAA officials came back to East End representatives in June with their proposal, Mr. Stanzione said.

“There is currently, now, an envelope, an altitude envelope within the New York City airspace that helicopters can fly under,” he said. “Helicopter operators are using that envelope to pass through Wall Street and Midtown to fly to the northern route, over Whitestone Bridge, over the northern part of Long Island. The FAA is reviewing options to severely restrict this envelope, which, if implemented, would force aircraft to a southern route.”

The northerly route takes helicopters along the north shore of Long Island until they reach the North Fork, at which point they cut south toward either Gabreski Airport in Westhampon, the Southampton Village helipad or East Hampton Airport. Helicopters headed toward East Hampton roughly follow Northwest Creek, often passing over Sag Harbor and Noyac. A southerly route, which is longer, would take the aircraft along the south shore until they reached the South Fork. Those headed to East Hampton would fly over Georgica Pond.

The plan could result in the southerly route absorbing more than half of the helicopter traffic, according to Mr. Stanzione. The northerly route, he said, currently takes almost all of it.

Rather than relying on a legislative solution from Congress, he said, “We wanted to use existing authority of the FAA, which includes controlling airspace in New York City.”

The proposal came out of meetings between FAA officials and a Multi-Town Helicopter Noise Advisory Committee, which convened in February with representatives from the East End towns.

But rerouting the helicopters might not be enough to quell a growing insurgency of residents living under the busiest flight paths, some of whom have begged the Town Board to take action while others want East Hampton Airport shut down entirely. This week, some said they are forming a civic group called Citizens Alliance To Cancel Helicopters.

Barry Raebeck, a Wainscott resident who is a founding member of the group, described helicopter noise as a blight to both property values and mental well-being.

“While only dozens benefit, thousands of innocent and unwilling people are having their peaceful summer and weekend days ruined by this ongoing aerial assault,” he wrote in an email. In a letter to the Town Board, Mr. Raebeck said he counted 52 helicopter passes over his property during a three-hour period last weekend.

Mr. Stanzione said almost all pilots comply with voluntary agreements with local officials on when they can land helicopters at East Hampton Airport and how low they can fly over town. But, he said he is considering hiking penalties for those few “bad apples” who do not. He explained that the town has little authority to regulate air traffic, limiting its power to handshake agreements with pilots and the collection of fees for use of the airport.

At the moment, pilots who land between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. have an additional 25 percent tacked onto their approximately $100-landing fees, but he said it could become much steeper. He also said he is considering having their names published in local newspapers.

Faced with burgeoning anger from their constituents, members of the Town Board pressured Mr. Stanzione during a work session on Tuesday to come up with new enforcement measures by the next meeting. Councilwoman Theresa Quigley floated the prospect of surcharges as high as $25,000 for helicopter owners who defy curfews and altitude restrictions.

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OK, they met in February, it is now August and they still have nothing to say!! Yes, they will wait until this season is over, and then do nothing until the next season. We have seen all this before. there is a manual on it by now.
No wonder the residents are fed up and not wanting to take it anymore. These folks should be in Washington, they have the right qualifications for either party!
By Trish (91), Sag Harbor on Aug 10, 11 3:29 PM
2 members liked this comment
So the solution is to fly the helicopters over the busy beaches of LI?
By Toma Noku (616), uptown on Aug 11, 11 1:45 PM
"We pissed off everyone on the North Shore, now we'll piss off everyone on the south shore"
Raise the taxes, get rid of free leaf cleanup, and fly helicopters over their heads!!!
By unjustifiedjustice2 (35), East Quogue on Aug 11, 11 4:31 PM
I don't know about anyone else but we're right back where we started. At least 50-60 helicopters and seaplanes flying low over the house from Thursday to Monday. We can't sit outside. Its barely bearable inside. If I wasn't an old lady I'd get a gun and start shooting. Maybe that would work. Why should we all suffer for the whims of a few millionaires who think their time is more valuable than the comfort of everyone else.
By Fed Up with Helicopters (1), Rocky Point on Aug 11, 11 6:17 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By danrudan (40), Southampton on Aug 12, 11 10:39 AM
Stooge Stanzione says the Town can't do anything, but the article states that Councilwoman Theresa Quigley, to date not a profile in courage regarding the airport, ”floated the prospect of surcharges as high as $25,000 for helicopter owners who defy curfews and altitude restrictions."

Mr. Stanzione’s lack of knowledge about what is going on and what can be done is a combination of willful ignorance and the fact that he does not live in an area affected by the airport torment. ...more
By danrudan (40), Southampton on Aug 12, 11 10:39 AM
4 members liked this comment
Mr. Stanzione's idea to "share" the noise pollution with the residents who live on the south side of the airport is not a solution to this enormous problem. Why can't the issue be addressed that the convenience for a very few adversely affects a great majority and that this should be banned? The airport noise pollution has increased exponentially in the last two years, and as a resident who lives on the south side of the airport I can attest to the fact that the noise is already unbearable from ...more
By Barbara Wainscott (5), Wainscott on Aug 14, 11 1:03 PM
1 member liked this comment
There is the option, as I understand it, of making the airport a local operation (not within FAA jurisdiction) but EH Town will have to reject federal funding.

Perhaps the EH Town Board does not have the financial and gastro-intestinal fortitude to wean itself from the FAA's teat?

By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 14, 11 7:25 PM
1 member liked this comment
PS -- "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 14, 11 7:31 PM
You are correct, but that option doesn't become available until Dec.31, 2014 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

UNTIL THEN, the FAA rule of "fly in 24 hours a day, in any aircraft you want, disturbing anyone you want with your noise, and not be responsible for the aviation fuel droplets landing on your deck or on your vegetables" will still be in place. FYI, if a pilot thought he could land a 747 at EH airport, there is nothing stopping him from doing that! Yes, that is true.

The EH Town Board ...more
By SagHarborBob (91), Sag Harbor on Aug 15, 11 7:23 AM
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