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Supervisor discourages local businesses to work with helicopter app

Update: Shinn Estate Vineyards canceled the event Tuesday afternoon, letting the public know through a Facebook post that shared a Patch story on the update. “To our neighbors: we hear you loud and clear. You have always and will always remain our priority,” the post said. The vineyard’s owners did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell spoke out against an on-demand helicopter app that’s advertising a scheduled trip to Shinn Estate Vineyards in Mattituck on Sunday and its attempt to use the town as “a doormat for its customers.”

Blade’s website features an ad for a “beautiful trip to Shinn Vineyard on the North Fork” for the upcoming weekend with flights going for $345 per seat. The 10 a.m. flight leaves West 30th Street and lands at Mattituck Airport at 10:40 a.m., according to the listing.

Mr. Russell, speaking at Tuesday’s Town Board work session, called it “unmitigated gall” by the business to pair with a local business to bring helicopters into Southold Town.

The supervisor said he asks that all local businesses, agricultural or not, do avoid business with Blade.

“That is not being considerate or respectful of the community around you, the community that supports you every day,” he said.

Mr. Russell said he contacted Paul Pawlowski, who represents the airport owner, who the told Blade they are not allowed to land there. Mr. Russell said that about a month ago the company released a map showing a landing site in Southold other than the airbase. There was a report of a landing on a site owned by a local vineyard, he said.

“We need to take any action necessary to make sure that no helicopter lands on any farmland in this town unless it’s a crop duster,” Mr. Russell said.

Councilman Bob Ghosio, who is the Town Board liaison to the Helicopter Noise Steering Committee, said whether the town allows such landings is a land-use issue.

“We just can’t let it happen,” Mr. Ghosio said. “We have enough trouble with helicopter noise.”

The supervisor said he thinks it could be a use violation because there is no reference to helicopters or airfields in the on A-C or R-80 zoning code. Town attorney Bill Duffy said he believes landing in those zones is not allowed under current code, but that he’d further give his opinion in executive session.

The helicopter listed in the advertisement is an Augusta 119, which can seat eight people and is a “favorite of the Los Angeles SWAT team,” the description says.

Residents complained about Blade earlier this year when the company advertised a partnership with Corcoran Real Estate to offer a “free one-day, round-trip helicopter ride to the Hamptons” for a customer searching for Hamptons real estate.

Most of the services currently offered by Blade to the East End are Friday afternoon flights to East Hampton Airport, which are listed as $795.

Photo credit: Kelly Zegers

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