East Hampton Weekend Ban on Helicopters Off the Table, for Now

East Hampton Airport. Photo credit: Cully/EEFAS
East Hampton Airport. Photo credit: Cully/EEFAS

Having considered the feedback of a number of citizens, businesses and interest groups in East Hampton and elsewhere on the East End affected by helicopter traffic, East Hampton Town Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez is dropping consideration of a weekend ban on helicopter landings and takeoffs at East Hampton Airport.

If it was implemented, the seasonal restriction—from May 1 to September 30— would have affected helicopter operations between Thursdays at noon and Mondays at noon.

Burke-Gonzalez, the town board liaison to the municipal airport, plans to move forward with urging the town board to adopt three other proposals: prohibiting aircraft operations year-round between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., prohibiting noisy aircraft year-round between 8 p.m. and 9 a.m., and limiting noisy aircraft to a single landing and takeoff each week during the summer.

According to a town presentation, implementing these three restrictions would affect 23% of aircraft operations while addressing 60% of all complaints.

“When the Town Board considers these laws, we should not view it as the end of a process but rather the beginning of an on-going and productive commitment to balance the needs of airport users with the peaceful and rural lifestyle which makes East Hampton an attractive place to live, work and play,” Burke-Gonzalez said in a press release.

Burke-Gonzalez added that residents impacted by helicopter noise deserve relief, while the town board must also be concious of the potential that restrictions could move problems from one part of the East End to another. “Shifting the problem is not the answer, and has never been the answer, as we learned when the FAA’s revised helicopter routes simply moved noise and complaints from one neighborhood to another,” she said.

The town board will meet April 16, when the restrictions are expected to be put up for a vote.

“Like any balanced approach, the three laws will not make everyone happy,” Burke-Gonzalez admitted. “But I believe that the new package of curfews and a one trip limit on noisy aircraft is the most reasonable first step.”

She noted that further adjustments to airport regulations are planned to ensure the airport remains financially stable. For example, landing fees will increase and expiring leases at the airport will be raised to the market value.

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