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Southold files formal complaint on helicopter route extension

Scott Russell State of Town

Southold Town announced Tuesday that it has filed a formal complaint asking that the Federal Aviation Administration to reconsider and change its recent ruling extending the North Shore helicopter route for four years. The town argues in its petition that the agency did not give the public its right of notice and opportunity to be heard before extending the route, which has led to noise complaints from East End residents.

Southold will pursue its options in federal court if the FAA does not respond to the petition in 30 days, Supervisor Scott Russell said Wednesday.

“Nonetheless, by this petition, Southold offers the FAA something rarely found in life … a second chance,” the 66-page document, which was submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation, states. “Our Town urges the FAA to reconsider its ill-advised uninformed rule and, this time, do the right and proper thing with all deliberate speed.”

The petition, which can be found on the town’s website, calls the ruling “arbitrary and capricious.” The town also alleges the FAA violated federal law and executive order by failing to consult with Southold officials before ruling to extend the route through August 6, 2020.

“We expect this petition to result in a favorable outcome for the town,” Mr. Russell said.

Elected officials from across the East End have supported Southold’s action, including Congressman Lee Zeldin, a member of the House of Representatives’ transportation and infrastructure committee.

“Residents across the North Fork of Long Island have had their quality of life adversely impacted by aircraft noise summer after summer and their complaints have been ignored by the FAA.” Mr. Zeldin said in a statement Tuesday. “The extension of the route was done in an unacceptable and secretive fashion, bypassing requirements in federal law, which call for public hearings and a comment period through consultation with local governments. I will continue working closely with Southold Town to hold the FAA accountable, and seek a permanent solution to the aircraft noise challenges on the East End, which includes true all-water routes to the South Fork.”

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File photo: Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell. (Credit: Times Review)