Proposed chopper restrictions for East Hampton downgraded

04/07/2015 4:30 PM |
KYRIL BROMLEY, THE EAST HAMPTON PRESS  PHOTO | East Hampton Airport restrictions originally proposed to reduce excessive noise have been reduced.

KYRIL BROMLEY, THE EAST HAMPTON PRESS PHOTO | East Hampton Airport restrictions originally proposed to reduce excessive noise have been reduced.

The lead proponent of restrictions to curb excessive aircraft noise over East End communities scaled back her recommendations Tuesday.

East Hampton Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, who has spearheaded a drive to impose four restrictions on helicopters and other aircraft flying into and out of East Hampton Airport, scrapped one of the proposals after strong opposition from elected officials from the North and South forks. The officials made strong cases that aircraft companies would simply divert flights into their communities.

Ms. Burke-Gonzalez will recommend to the East Hampton board that an original proposal to ban all helicopter operations on summer weekends from noon Thursday through noon Monday not be included in a set of local laws the board will consider later this month.

Still in place to be voted on are:
• a mandatory nighttime airport curfew from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
• an extended curfew on so-called “noisy” aircraft from 8 p.m. to 9 a.m.
• limiting noisy aircraft to one trip – a single landing and takeoff – each week during the summer season.

At an East Hampton Town Board public hearing last month, Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio along with Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and several other elected representatives asked for caution because of the unintended consequences of the most severe ban.

Ms. Burke-Gonzalez agreed, noting that a ban on helicopters on weekends in the summer “could be a shift of impacts to Montauk as well as neighboring communities. I have long said that I will not push our problems on others and I will respect that commitment.”

Loren Riegelhaupt, a spokesman for the Friends of East Hampton Airport Coalition, a group opposed to the restrictions that includes a pilots’ organization, wasn’t satisfied with the development.

Ms. Burke-Gonzalez’s dropping one of the proposed restrictions doesn’t “change anything at all,” Mr. Riegelhaupt said. “The proposal would close off the airport to the vast majority of traffic resulting in a dramatic loss in revenue for the airport and economic activity for our community and will do nothing to mitigate the obvious impact on neighboring communities across the East End.”

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