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Amendment in House bill aimed at reducing helicopter noise

The House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday with an amendment that would require the Federal Aviation Administration to reassess the North Shore Helicopter Route that North Fork residents have said brings frequent and unwanted noise.

Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) introduced the amendment earlier this week for it to be considered part of the FAA Reauthorization Act, which the House passed Friday, 393 to 13.

“Summer after summer, North Fork residents’ quality of life has suffered due to the persistent issue of helicopter noise on the East End,” Mr. Zeldin said in a statement. “The FAA and Department of Transportation have sole jurisdiction over the aircraft routes that have impacted these communities, but from the route’s planning to its continued use, they have continued to flat out ignore the residents directly affected. Congress must hold their feet to the fire, and with the passage of this amendment to require the FAA to assess an all water route and alternatives to mitigate the impact on residents, those who call the North Shore home are finally being heard.”

The amendment was co-sponsored by Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Queens) and Congressman Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove).

In addition to reassessing helicopter routes, the amendment calls for improvement of altitude enforcement and for alternative routes to be considered, including an all-water route over the Atlantic Ocean.

Both Southold and Riverhead Towns have citizen committees tasked with finding solutions to reduce helicopter traffic and noise over homes.

“The ever-increasing number of helicopters over Southold has devastated the quality of life for our residents,” Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said in a statement Friday. “Southold has become a doormat to the helicopter operators as they head to and from the Hamptons. Rep. Zeldin’s amendment is a common sense approach that will provide immediate relief to our community. I urge the FAA to follow the congressman’s lead and help him restore the quality of life of the people of Southold.”

Riverhead Town Supervisor Laura-Jens Smith also noted on the nuisance of frequent helicopter traffic during busy summer months. It’s increased over the past several years, she said in a statement.

While flight patterns are meant to circumvent land, “in practice that is not what takes place,” she said.

“In addition these helicopters tend to fly the same routes when traversing overland resulting in helicopters passing overhead every five to 10 minutes,” Ms. Jens-Smith said. “The noise level created by these helicopters passing is so loud and disturbing that it can drown out TV sound at a moderate volume if you are inside. And outside is even worse requiring you to stop your conversations until after the helicopters pass overhead.”

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