Copter fight a tale of 2 East End towns


Some in Southold think East Hampton Town has not been negotiating in good faith over noisy helicopter traffic headed to the East Hampton Airport.
Pilot Joseph Fischetti, who has been representing Southold in negotiations with neighboring towns over the best way to address noise generated by helicopter traffic to East Hampton, said neither he nor anyone from the East End except East Hampton officials were invited to a helicopter meeting called by the FAA last November.

Moreover, he said, East Hampton Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione had told him that he had to answer to wealthy property owners who do not want helicopters that now head toward East Hampton along the North Fork re-routed southward over their homes.
“We need to take control again. We need to redirect traffic to the south shore route,” Mr. Fischetti told the Southold Town Board at a work session Tuesday morning.

Currently, most helicopters follow the north shore of Long Island, in part to avoid protected airspace around John F. Kennedy International Airport on the south shore. Mr. Fischetti said he believes East End towns should be able to negotiate an arrangement with the FAA that would allow helicopters departing from heliports in lower Manhattan to use a southern route.

He said departures from those heliports account for 75 percent of the helicopter traffic over the East End, while the remaining 25 percent of traffic comes from Teterboro and Westchester airports, for which it is reasonable to take a more northerly route east.
Last summer, the FAA drafted its first-ever proposal for special helicopter flight rules for Long Island, which would require helicopters to fly at least one mile offshore at an altitude of at least 2,500 feet. But they still would have to cross the North Fork at some point to approach East Hampton Airport.

A consortium of East End towns, including East Hampton but not Riverhead, asked the FAA to consider a second southern route, and to forbid traffic on the northern route to turn southward until Plum Gut so that they would not approach East Hampton Airport over the North Fork and Shelter Island. They also wanted the minimum altitude raised to 3,000 feet.

Mr. Fischetti said Mr. Stanzione had told him that some south shore residents had attorneys working to fight against any south shore route. Mr. Fischetti said he had told him that for his 15 opponents on the south shore, “We have 100,000 people being affected from Glen Cove, Port Washington, Riverhead, Southold and Shelter Island.”

Mr. Stanzione was in session at an East Hampton Town Board meeting Tuesday and was not immediately available for comment.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said he had also received a call from Mr. Stanzione, who said Mr. Fischetti was “stepping on a lot of toes” by pushing for the southern route. Mr. Russell said he had to ask Mr. Stanzione to send him a copy of a proposed town resolution to create a multi-town helicopter noise advisory committee that East Hampton had drafted for other towns to sign. When he did send it, Mr. Russell said he found the draft that did not take into consideration the issues other towns have had with helicopter noise.

“It’s the same thing we got when McGintee was there. We’re back in 2006,” said Mr. Russell, referring to former East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill McGintee, who resigned in 2009. “When push comes to shove, East Hampton takes care of themselves.”
Mr. Russell commented in an e-mail later that “the document simply showed a continued lack of understanding and cooperation from East Hampton on this issue. It was going well for a few months but, it is apparent that East Hampton is not ready to participate in anything that will not put its goals and priorities first.”

Mr. Russell said he believed he had support from Riverhead and Shelter Island officials to draft an alternative set of goals for reducing helicopter noise on the north shore.

“I wouldn’t do anything with East Hampton. I’d cut them out of everything,” said Councilman Chris Talbot.

Mr. Fischetti, who served as the airport noise abatement chairman at Gabreski Airport in Westhampton, said he couldn’t understand why all the airports on Long Island are on the south shore, but all the helicopter noise is on the north shore.

“We only have normal people here on the north shore. We don’t have power people here,” he said. “I have a feeling they left us out because I’m a loose cannon. They don’t want me there because I’m the only one who knows anything about aviation.

Everyone’s afraid of East Hampton. I’m not afraid of East Hampton.”

“Keep being a loose cannon,” Mr. Talbot advised.

[email protected]