Congressman Lee Zeldin came out blasting Saturday night against a four-year extension of the Federal Aviation Administration’s current New York North Shore Helicopter Route, which he called “unresponsive bureaucracy at its best.”
Mr. Zeldin (R-Shirley) and other local public officials and residents had been calling on the FAA to either adopt a South Shore route or force helicopter pilots to fly as far east as Plum Island before making their way to the South Fork, the destination of most helicopter traffic over Long Island. Advocates have argued for years that noise from helicopters crossing over land in Southold and Riverhead towns as they approach airports on the South Fork has disrupted the quality of life for residents on the North Fork.
“The FAA’s announcement that they will be extending the North Shore route for four years is an unacceptable example of incompetence and arrogance on the part of faceless, unelected and unaccountable federal bureaucrats,” Mr. Zeldin said in a statement late Saturday night.
The extension of the current route will be published in the Federal Register Monday, according to the agency’s website.
Earlier Saturday Mr. Zeldin appeared before Southold Voice to discuss the helicopter noise issue. At the meeting, he called for a South Shore route.
After apparently later learning about the decision, he called for FAA administrator Michael Huerta to “immediately reconsider the decision.”
“If he is unwilling to respond to Congress, or to the concerns of the people whom we were elected to represent, then he should resign or be replaced,” the second-year Congressman said.
Mr. Zeldin also called for Democratic U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to join him in fighting the FAA’s decision.
Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said he’s “not surprised” by the extension.
“I know that Rep. Zeldin has been opposing the extension, but without the support of the New York delegation, it was bound to be a long-shot,” Mr. Russell said. “This is especially true when it was our U.S. Senator [Schumer] who created the ill-conceived route to begin with.”
An FAA spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday morning.
Caption: Congressman Lee Zeldin speaks to reporters and concerned members of the public at a press conference on helicopter noise at Southold Town Hall in March 2015. (Credit: Vera Chinese)