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Anti-helicopter group forming in Greenport Village


A Greenport Village homeowner and attorney has decided to form a group called “Citizens of Greenport Against the Helipad” in order to fight an attempt to allow helicopter landings in the village.

Michael Solomon, who lives on Bay Avenue near the proposed helipad site, told The Suffolk Times on Friday he’s creating the group because he believes helicopter noise will negatively affect the area’s quality of life and property values.

“The citizens are going to mobilize against this on a major level,” he said. “This is a maritime village — not a village that needs to have helicopters landing and taking off.”

Last week, the Village Board discussed STIDD Systems owner Walter Gezari’s plan to demolish the old Cooper Seafood Dock building and replace it with a smaller building that would leave enough space for a helicopter to land. He said the helicopter would only be for private use and would land about three times a week.

Once the village begins holdings formal public hearings and discussions on the proposal, Mr. Solomon said he’ll launch a petition drive, starting with local businesses and then moving on to residential neighborhoods. He said a lawsuit is not out of the question if the village should approve the helicopter proposal.

STIDD Systems has been in the village for 25 years and makes ergonomic marina seats for recreational and military uses, and military submersible boats. The company has about 50 employees, at least 40 based in Greenport, and most of them live in Greenport Village or Southold Town, Mr. Gezari said.

“I was in Burlington, Vt. yesterday picking up critical components for a military shipment we made parts for,” Mr. Gezari said in an interview last week. “To go there by helicopter would be 45 minutes each way. To go by car would be two days, and to use commercial airlines you’d be on a plane all day.”

The helicopter approaches and departures would be made over the water, not over homes, he said. Police helicopters occasionally land at nearby Eastern Long Island Hospital and the Greenport High School grounds, he added.

Village Board members said Thursday they’ve already received tons of feedback on Mr. Gezari’s proposal — mostly in opposition the the helipad plan.

“I’ve had two people that work for STIDD Systems say that it was a good idea because they don’t want to have their jobs to move somewhere else,” Mayor George Hubbard Jr. said. “Everybody else said they aren’t happy about the idea.

“Most of them were from up west, Aquebogue, Jamesport, Mattituck. Most of the opposition has been coming from those people that have been fighting helicopters for a couple years.”

Mr. Hubbard said he has also gotten feedback from village residents, including two who live on Bay Avenue and Facebook messages.

Trustees Mary Bess Phillips and Julia Robins said they have heard overwhelming opposition to the Mr. Gezari’s proposal mostly from village residents.

“Basically nobody wants it — that’s what they keep telling me,” Ms. Robins said.

Trustees Jack Martilotta and Doug Roberts both said they’ve heard opposition mostly from people who don’t live in the village, although Mr. Roberts said he has heard  “a few people” in support as well.

“The people who are describing these pastoral scenes of Greenport don’t live in the village,” Mr. Roberts said. “They don’t realize that it is loud and smelly and industrial.”

Mr. Martilotta said he is neither for or against helipads and believes people are exaggerating how quiet the village is.

“People say they want a working waterfront,” Mr. Martilotta said. “This is what a working waterfront looks like in 2016.”

He said his own house is within earshot of the train station, the Hampton Jitney and the ferry.

Mr. Solomon said he disagrees with Mr. Roberts and Mr. Martilotta’s description and since his neighborhood is very quiet. He’s recruiting local people to join the fight the against the helicopter proposal, and said anyone interested can email him at [email protected].

Photo Caption: A view of the dock that would be rebuilt to clear room for a helicopter to land. (Credit: Rachel Young) 

[email protected]

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