Editorial: Greenport residents deserve a say

03/11/2016 6:00 AM |

helicopter

STIDD Systems is an outstanding local company.

A high-end manufacturer of ergonomic marine seats for recreational and military uses, the Greenport business provides quality jobs for 50 employees, most of whom live in the village.

That same owner, whose business has been in operation for more than 25 years, now says it’s necessary for him to land a private helicopter behind his Carpenter Street property so he can minimize the time he spends traveling to vendors and customers.

“I’m not trying to commute to work from my home in Calverton,” Walter Gezari told The Suffolk Times last month. “What I am intending to do is come by helicopter from an FAA-approved airport to this landing spot and then be able to go from the landing spot to New York, Connecticut, Vermont or other places where we have vendors and customers.”

Mr. Gezari’s request has caused an uproar in the village and beyond among residents who believe helicopter noise will negatively affect their quality of life and property values.

Of course, no business with any longevity should be expected to operate the same way throughout its existence. Over time, adjustments will be needed for it to continue to thrive: menus and services change; prices go up; new jobs are created and others are cut.

With most local businesses, any time you upset your neighbors with adjustments, you run the risk of losing customers.

A manufacturer whose work benefits mostly outside buyers does not assume the same level of risk in such a scenario.

But shouldn’t the onus of paying the cost of doing business still rest on the shoulders of the business owner and not neighbors who would be inconvenienced by his changing business needs? It’s not as if all the other area businesses and private residents will receive a steep discount on their much-needed ergonomic marine seats if his helicopter request is approved.

Allowing one business owner, however reputable and important his company is, privileges the Village of Greenport cannot afford to bestow on others, creates a dangerous precedent.

It would be shrewd of the Village Board to hear the public’s concerns before voting to allow this one business use of a helicopter in a community that doesn’t seem to want it.

Most Greenporters probably don’t need high-end boat seats, but they do need — and deserve — a government that listens.

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