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Southold Town passes helicopter legislation

The Southold Town Board fortified its helicopter regulations Tuesday night to help limit overhead noise that has been a longtime nuisance to residents.

The code change would prohibit helicopters and seaplanes from landing in or taking off from all zoning districts in the town. The town had been working on the code change in response to the expanding air industry that is bringing more air traffic. In October 2017, for example, an on-demand helicopter app had advertised a trip to a Mattituck vineyard, which raised concerns among officials. That event was ultimately canceled.

Exceptions to the code change, which Town Board members unanimously approved Tuesday, include military operations, medical or police emergencies and agricultural uses. This rule also doesn’t apply to Mattituck Airfield, Elizabeth Airfield on Fishers Island, Gardiners Island and Rose Airfield in Orient.

Adam Irving, member of the town’s helicopter noise steering committee, said he is happy with the legislation.

“It can allow the existing operators here in Southold to continue to do what they do,” Mr. Irving said. “At the same time, it can help protect residents in Southold from essentially an air taxi business that has proliferated primarily on the South Fork.”

Steve Marsh asked on behalf of Mattituck Airport that the airport be specifically mentioned in the code so they can continue to use it as they have in the past.

Supervisor Scott Russell said the Mattituck Airport would be considered a pre-existing nonconforming use, so it would not be affected by the new regulations, He added that the airport’s owners have been cooperative and he is confident there would be no issues regarding the facility.

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