08/31/14 8:00am
08/31/2014 8:00 AM
A seaplane flies over Mattituck Aug. 22, one of several aircraft observed over a three-hour period. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)

A seaplane flies over Mattituck Aug. 22, one of several aircraft observed over a three-hour period that night. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)

Three hours into an exhaustive stakeout to document the greatest threat to North Fork life — helicopter noise — I reached an inauspicious conclusion: On this night in Mattituck, the loudest noise was neither helicopter, seaplane, nor any other flying craft that pollutes our precious skies.  (more…)

08/28/14 12:42pm
08/28/2014 12:42 PM
Residents from East End communities packed a Wainscott TV studio for a special meeting on aircraft noise Wednesday evening. (Credit: Ambrose Clancy)

Residents from East End communities packed a Wainscott TV studio for a special meeting on aircraft noise Wednesday evening. (Credit: Ambrose Clancy)

Too low, too loud, too many.

That was the consensus from nearly 50 residents from East End communities who spoke at a packed public meeting Wednesday evening about a record number of aircraft — mostly helicopters — buzzing their homes this summer.  (more…)

08/16/14 10:00am
08/16/2014 10:00 AM
Teresa McCaskie, of Mattituck, called for the shut down of East Hampton airport if a solution to noise couldn't be reached. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson)

Teresa McCaskie, of Mattituck, called for the shut down of East Hampton airport if a solution to noise couldn’t be reached. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson)

There’s much to love about the North Fork as a place to live and visit. Its close-knit communities, wineries and farms stands, forests, creeks and bays all quickly come to mind. Living in what sounds like a war zone isn’t on that list.  (more…)

08/14/14 1:00pm
More than 200 North Fork residents upset by helicopter noise over their homes turned out Monday night for a forum in Southold. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson)

More than 200 North Fork residents upset by helicopter noise over their homes turned out Monday night for a forum in Southold. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson)

Residents from three East End communities voted with their feet Monday and Tuesday, when more than 500 people attended three public meetings to stop low-flying aircraft from buzzing over their homes.

In Southold Monday night, 200 people chastised Federal Aviation Administration officials about the barrage of noise this summer — up more than 40 percent over last year, according to several reports. On Tuesday afternoon, the Shelter Island Town Board held a standing-room-only work session to hear audience members complain bitterly about the racket they’ve been forced to endure.  (more…)

06/24/14 9:06am
06/24/2014 9:06 AM

east end helicopter noise long islandA mandate for helicopters to stay off Long Island’s north shore that was set to expire in August has been renewed by the federal government — though a loophole will still permit aircraft heading to the Hamptons to fly over the North Fork, and local representatives are still working to close it and force pilots to detour around Orient Point.

The goal of the renewed route, implemented by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2012, has been to reduce noise in residential areas that helicopters fly over on their ways to other locales on Long Island — namely, the Hamptons. The only way pilots can deviate from the route is for safety reasons, weather conditions, or if transitioning to or from a destination or point of landing.

But Southold Supervisor Scott Russell has said the last excuse to deviate from the plan hasn’t brought the expected results to Southold he was hoping for. And after U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Tim Bishop issued a joint statement last week announcing that the current route was extended — and not expanded to require flights to head around Orient Point — Mr. Russell called the oversight of Southold residents “deplorable.”

“Quite candidly, our federally-elected representatives just sold us out for the interests of western Long Island,” he said. “This is a disaster for Southold.”

Mr. Schumer and Mr. Bishop said last week that the current route — which towns to the west of Southold have embraced — has been extended for another two years, and the two are working to make it permanent. The announcement came weeks after the two stated that they were attempting to get an extension on the current route requirements, while also pushing for an expansion to require flights to go around Orient Point.

The route requires every helicopter operating along Long Island between Visual Point Lloyd Harbor (VPLYD), located 20 miles north of LaGuardia Airport, and Orient Point to fly one mile off the north shore.

If pilots do not follow the route, they may face fines or have their pilots’ license revoked.

“Luckily for Long Island residents, the beginning of August will not also mean the return of onerous helicopter noise that once interrupted dinners, disrupted people enjoying their backyards and had an effect on quality of life and on property values,” Mr. Schumer said in a release.

Mr. Russell said on Tuesday that last week’s announcement was indeed good news for those on the western part of Long Island, and shrugged off any suggestion that it might have anything to do with the political make-up of Southold’s Town Board — which has no elected Democrats on it.

“This isn’t a partisan issue. This is an East versus West issue,” he said. “The lesser populated East End simply has less clout at the voting booth.”

While expressing satisfaction for the current route’s extension, both Mr. Schumer and Mr. Bishop stated that they hope to see further results and relief for Southold residents.

“It is my sincere hope that FAA will continue to review ways to minimize the reach of noise pollution,” he stated.

Mr. Russell said he would be reaching out to Mr. Bishop’s office this week to try to remedy the issue for Southold residents.

05/28/14 4:05pm
05/28/2014 4:05 PM

east-end-helicopter-noise-long-island

A temporary Federal Aviation Administration requirement that helicopters fly over Long Island Sound rather than homes on the North Fork is set to expire on Aug. 6, according to Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton). Mr. Bishop and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-Brooklyn) are now working on a bill to make that requirement permanent and to also extend the area where helicopters must stay over the water.  (more…)

07/31/12 5:56pm
07/31/2012 5:56 PM

MIKE CUEVLAS FILE PHOTO | A photo taken from a video recording by Mr. Cuevas of the helicopter landing in a field behind his house in Baiting Hollow.

A Calverton man who Riverhead officials took to court in 2008 for illegally using his property to land and launch his private helicopter has agreed not to do so unless he gets a special permit from the town, which is not possible under the site’s current zoning.

Walter Gezari, his wife, Debbie Ma, and his company, Inter-Archipelago Airways, agreed in a July 2 settlement with Riverhead Town not to use their property on Deep Hole Road in Calverton for helicopter takeoffs and landings unless they get a special permit from the Town Board allowing that use.

The settlement also calls for Mr. Gezari to plead guilty to a charge of operating an airport without a permit and to pay a $350 fine, in exchange for a conditional discharge of the code violations for which the town cited him.

Mr. Gezari said Tuesday that he has not been landing or taking off from his Calverton property since the town obtained a preliminary injunction in 2008 barring him from doing so. As for applying for a special permit, he said he has not decided what he will do.

“I haven’t really thought about it yet,” he said. “I basically am flying in my normal way and not landing in Calverton. I’m functioning perfectly well without this capability.”

Richard Craven, who lives near the area where Mr. Gezari had been landing his helicopter, said he hasn’t noticed the helicopter since the injunction was issued.

“Apparently he has adhered to it,” Mr. Craven said.

The town took Mr. Gezari to court in 2008 following complaints from neighbors about the helicopter.

The settlement bars Mr. Gezari from using his property for helicopter landings or takeoffs unless he obtains a special permit from the Town Board and site plan approval from the Planning Board. The settlement also prohibits further appeals of the court case.

Despite the language of the settlement, it was unclear if Mr. Gezari could even get a special permit if he applied for one without amendments being made to the zoning.

The town had defined the landing of a helicopter as an “airport” use and maintained that the property’s zoning, Agricultural Protection zone, doesn’t allow airports as a permitted, special permit or accessory use.

The code also states that “no airport facility or accessory building, structure or use shall be constructed, expanded, installed, used, maintained, arranged or designed to be used, erected, reconstructed or altered in any use district except when authorized by special permit from the Town Board.”

tgannon@timesreview.com