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Southold closer to introducing local helicopter legislation

Southold Town is continuing to develop a potential code change to address issues residents have with helicopter noise. 

The town’s helicopter noise steering committee, Town Board liaison Bob Ghosio and local pilots are expected to meet Friday to get closer to developing a comprehensive and balanced draft law, Mr. Ghosio said at Tuesday’s Town Board work session.

Steering committee member Teresa McCaskie said there should be concerns on how the air industry is expanding, bringing increased air traffic, and the effects that has on the community.

The discussion is all in an effort to protect the local quality of life, limit noise, ensure safety and avoid potential environmental issues, Ms. McCaskie said.

“It all can be discussed. It all can be worked out, and it can be done respectfully, but they’re coming,” Ms. McCaskie said. “They’re at our doors.”

One concern raised is helicopter companies that promote wine tours which bring customers from Manhattan to the East End. Wings Air Helicopters is currently promoting a North Fork winery tour that will fly from Manhattan and land at the Mattituck airport, where a sedan would be waiting to take them to wineries. Town Supervisor Scott Russell said he notified airport owner Paul Pawlowski, who told him that tours are not permitted and that he would contact the company.

Seaplane trips are also being promoted and have been noticed increasingly, Ms. McCaskie said. Mr. Ghosio said he has been looking through existing codes of other East End towns on how they address helicopters and seaplanes.

Ms. McCaskie suggested that one approach the town could look into is to have an understanding with companies that quieter aircraft be used or permits be issued to helicopters. She and Mr. Ghosio mentioned that East Hampton Town is asking that Stage 3 helicopters, which have noise reduction designs, be used.

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