Settlement means no more landing helicopter in Calverton

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.”

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