Supervisor: East Hampton not helping solve copter noise problem

05/24/2013 6:00 PM |

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Southold Town’s request for East Hampton’s help in mitigating excessive noise generated by aircraft — specifically helicopters — approaching East Hampton Airport has fallen on deaf ears, according to Supervisor Scott Russell.

Mr. Russell was the lone opponent of new voluntary air traffic patterns outlined last week by the Eastern Region Helicopter Council.

Air traffic control currently directs approximately 35 percent of aircraft to East Hampton by way of the southern route, over the Atlantic Ocean. The remaining 65 percent of flights are directed to use the Sierra route, the northerly approach over Mattituck Inlet.

“From the complaints we get you can literally draw a line from the northerly section of Mattituck right through [to East Hampton],” Mr. Russell said.

Under the new guidelines air traffic controllers agreed to divide the number flights using the northerly route between the existing pattern over Mattituck Inlet and a second pattern above the causeway in East Marion, Mr. Russell said.

“They say the planes will be going over the least populated area; but it’s really not,” Mr. Russell said. “Now you’re going to upset the people of Orient and the people of East Marion. Their notion of splitting my problem in half doesn’t help.”

While the measure is voluntary, Mr. Russell said East Hampton “holds to the keys to the kingdom” on the issue because it owns the airport.

“The pilots will do what East Hampton wants them to do,” he said.

East Hampton Town forfeited its right to impose legal restrictions on helicopters several years ago when it accepted a Federal Aviation Administration grant. East Hampton has remained quiet about the noise complaints voiced by neighboring municipalities, Mr. Russell said.

“We are getting no compromise from our neighbors from the south,” Mr. Russell said. “I have no reason to believe they are going to give up the FAA as a revenue stream.”

Board members approved a resolution Tuesday requesting that East Hampton adopt a comprehensive aircraft noise limitation policy.

The resolution asks that East Hampton impose evening and weekend curfews and limit the number of flights and the airport’s hours of operation.

The resolution also asks East Hampton to refuse an extension of its agreement with the FAA when the agreement expires in December 2014.

“I have no reason to think they will honor what we just passed tonight,” Mr. Russell said. “I don’t like suing other towns; but we are certainly exploring all of our options.”

cmurray@timesreview.com