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Riverhead Town forming helicopter noise task force

06/23/2016 2:24 PM |

Riverhead Town officials are seeking volunteers to serve on a helicopter and seaplane noise task force.

Councilman Tim Hubbard said a public meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Town Hall to appoint about seven people to the task force.

“I’m on a cell phone with somebody out in the Jamesport area and I can’t even hear them on the cell phone because the noise is so loud from the helicopters,” Mr. Hubbard said. “We’ve had people that are soundproofing the house for thousands of dollars — and that’s not helping.”

An FAA rule approved in 2012 and commonly referred to as the mandated “North Shore route” requires helicopters to fly over the water across Long Island Sound — one mile offshore — and to go around Orient Point rather than fly over houses.

But the rule allows pilots to deviate from the route when required for safety reasons, weather conditions or to transition.

[Related story: Will these new routes help solve Southold’s helicopter noise problem?]

Local officials have said this only makes the situation worse, since it allows helicopters to cut across the North Fork on their way to East Hampton Airport in Wainscott as they transition south.

“Originally, they were using the point of the Northville tanks to start cutting it,” Mr. Hubbard said. “Instead, they’re coming in as far west as Miller Place and starting to come across in the vicinity of Aquebogue and Jamesport. They’re not following the guidelines put out by the FAA.”

Riverhead is the only East End town without a helicopter noise task force, he added.

Supervisor Sean Walter suggested a political solution: “mass picketing” the offices of U.S. senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Mr. Hubbard said he reached out to both elected officials and is still waiting for a response.

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