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Aug 16, 2010 12:22 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Helicopter foe girds for battle

Aug 16, 2010 12:22 PM

It’s hard to say when the last straw was for Frank Dalene. It might have been the evening a helicopter swooped down over a picture-perfect wedding he was attending and drowned out the couple’s wedding vows. Or maybe it was the time he heard the familiar shattering noise of a helicopter and looked up over his house and saw the belly of the aircraft just a few feet from his roof.

Whenever the moment was, and there have been hundreds of them, Mr. Dalene, a home builder, made up his mind that the East Hampton Town Airport should be closed to commercial flights.

“My preference is to eliminate the commercial operation at the airport that started 5 to 10 years ago. When I built my house 25 years ago, the airport was for private use only,” he said this week.

In the past month, with the help of volunteers, he rounded up neighbors who live within a mile or two of the airport and got 100 of them to sign a petition that says, in part, that the “noise impact of commercial operations of airplanes and helicopters violates the intent and spirit of the [noise] zoning laws.” The petition will be sent to the Town Board.

Mr. Dalene has also created a website, www.ehhelicopternoise.com, where he has the petition posted, along with letters and photos. He said he’s also received interest from a loose coalition of 138 people from Sag Harbor and Southampton.

“My whole idea is to form a coalition of different organizations who are united against this helicopter noise. If people can band together we have a better chance of making a difference,” he said in an interview last week.

Marie Zerilli, who lives on Bark Court near Mr. Dalene is the volunteer who has been taking the petition around her neighborhood. It has been easy to get people to sign, she said.

“The situation has gotten worse within the last five years, over the past three years, it’s gotten impossible,” she said.

Richard Myers, chairman of the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee, who lives on Ardley Road, just south of the airport, one block north of Montauk Highway, said the helicopters bother him, too, but, unlike Mr. Dalene, he doesn’t want them to be banned from the airport.

“Anyone who is near the airport is affected by the noise. Part of the problem is they let the pilots starts their engines and then they sit for several minutes waiting to take off. That generates a lot of noise. But nobody wants to prohibit the helicopters from using the airport,” he said.

The helicopter noise complaints, which are heaviest in the summer, are hardly new. Residents have been complaining, as Ms. Zerilli said, for the past three to five years, when chartering a helicopter from New York City to East Hampton became very popular, even though at about $3,000 one way, it’s an expensive ride. Residents who live near the airport have been complaining about airplane noise in general for years.

Traffic at the airport dropped off in 2009, due to the poor economy, and is now back on track at the peak levels of 2007, according to East Hampton Airport Manager Jim Bundrige.

“We work on noise abatement all the time,” he said. “As far as the helicopters, we’ve made it better by changing a route that used to come from the south and into the airport. We moved around a route so that it doesn’t affect hundreds of people, just tens of people.”

One of those people is Mr. Dalene, who uses his camera and a handheld decibel meter to measure the noise. In the last two years, he has recorded helicopter noise as high as 90 decibels. The town’s noise ordinance limit in general is 65 decibels during the day and 55 decibels between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. But the ordinance excludes aircraft, he said.

The FAA has studied the problem of helicopter noise with state and local officials on Long 
Island and come up with a proposal to require helicopters to steer clear of Long Island’s North Shore.

“The FAA’s proposal to require helicopter operators to use the North Shore Long Island route generated nearly 1,000 comments. Because the agency has to review and address each comment before issuing a final rule, the FAA will not be able to issue a final rule before the end of this summer,” said Arlene Salac, a spokeswoman for the FAA.

But Mr. Bundrige said that won’t help the East End “one iota” because once the copters come to Riverhead, they begin their descent into the Hamptons.

U.S. Representative Tim Bishop, a Democrat from Southampton, agrees.

“I’d like to see this FAA rule route the helicopters out over water the longest possible time,” he said. “I’d like to route them around Orient Point and keep them over Peconic Bay. And we want helicopters to maintain an altitude of 2,500 to 3,000 feet for the longest possible time. I also want there to be a southern route that approaches East Hampton and Westhampton.”

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I laud Frank's efforts to end the commercial flights at the East Hampton Airport. Can't use the lovely yard of my 24/7 Sag Harbor home because of the brutal noise attacks from the helicopters, jets and planes. I live 2.4 miles from the airport, yet every aircraft going overhead seems close enough to touch.

Councilman Dominick Stanzone's comment that "all efforts have been made to accommodate the concern of our citizens" is a joke. NOTHING has changed; the noise is worse this year than ...more
By SagHarborBob (91), Sag Harbor on Aug 11, 10 12:31 PM
3 members liked this comment
..........and it's NOT just helicopters. We live 2.5 miles from the airport and jets, airplanes, helicopters are going over and around our house constantly. We
can't enjoy gardening, reading or entertaining on our property. Quite frankly, I am tired of being polite, writing letters to no avail. I'd like to see about 200 people file a nuisance lawsuit again the airport, the FAA and the Town of East Hampton.
We've all paid plenty for property we can't use much of the year.
By lovesag (17), Sag Harbor on Aug 11, 10 12:45 PM
3 members liked this comment
Go Frank. Councilman Stanzone and his ilk are nothing but bought off stooges for the big money airport interests. The draft master plan for the airport provides EH with the blueprint for turning back the clock on the airport to its private days. We in Southampton who bear the brunt of the airport traffic are with you 100%. It's time to take back our air space.
By danrudan (40), Southampton on Aug 11, 10 12:48 PM
3 members liked this comment
We work on noise abatement all the time,” he said. “As far as the helicopters, we’ve made it better by changing a route that used to come from the south and into the airport. We moved around a route so that it doesn’t affect hundreds of people, just tens of people.”

By lovesag (17), Sag Harbor on Aug 11, 10 12:49 PM
3 members liked this comment
Whatever I can do to help bring about chane and relieve aircraft noise stress from our lives, COUNT ME IN, Frank. Willing to demonstrate, collect signatures, join in a lawsuit---whatever it takes. Our elected officials have done little over 10 years to help residents. Southampton Town Supervisor Throne-Holst's recent comment reported in WSJ, "....that noise is part of the fabric of life in the Hamptons..." says it all. Enough of this and lets get active to help ourselves.
By Trish (91), Sag Harbor on Aug 11, 10 1:34 PM
2 members liked this comment
I'm with Trish and Sag Harbor Bob -- whatever it takes. There are more and more of us banding together. And yes, what an intelligent remark by Southampton Town Supervisor - maybe Sarah Palin should join the Southampton Board too.
By lovesag (17), Sag Harbor on Aug 11, 10 1:48 PM
Forget 2500ft! its still rattles th ehouse how about 5000ft! If the helo's went around Orient Pt then over Barecelona Pt that has the fewest homes. Now they cut in over Little Peconic Bay and Impact North Sea and Noyac. Flying over many homes and communiites. South they have a stright route over Georgica Pond then down the beach. I like Franks idea growing up it was always a local small airport with no commercial operations, perhaps due to the abusive nature of it, the commercial side should end. ...more
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Aug 11, 10 8:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
The situation is insufferable. We are not talking about a slight disturbance of our peace and quiet. We can no longer sit outside in the late afternoon or early evening, as the helicopters fly one after another directly over our house, mostly at tree top level. You cannot hear what the other person is saying. Everyone has to stop talking until the helicopter passes. Since they fly over our house at a rate of about one every ten minutes, there is no conversation to be had. And then there are the ...more
By LZerilli (3), Wainscott on Aug 12, 10 2:32 AM
2 members liked this comment
heres an idea dont buy a house near an airport.the air port was there first and now you want to get rid of it, why so your house goes up in value,you did get it at a good price didnt you?
By banjack (45), port jeff on Aug 12, 10 11:13 AM
1 member liked this comment
The credibility of those posting complaints about the noise from the airport is highly suspect, in my opinion. Sagharbor bob says" he can't use his lovely yard 24/7". Really Bob? Love Sag says that "jets, airplanes and helicopters constantly fly over my house" Really? Constantly? Obviously neither of these two responders been anywhere near East Hampton airport the months of September, October, November, December, January, February, March, April, May. As most know, there is virtually nothing going ...more
By The Dark Side (8), Westhampton on Aug 12, 10 1:43 PM
1 member liked this comment
Dark side a/k/a Copterboy: Many of us live several miles from the airport and have our conversations interrupted and walls rattled by flights from the airport.
What about noise complaints from Riverhead and Shelter Island, among others who have had it with East Hampton and its airport? Should they also move or shut up?
If you had any knowledege of the facts, you would know it has only been the last several years that the airport has become out of control with the growth of commercial ...more
By danrudan (40), Southampton on Aug 12, 10 4:48 PM
1 member liked this comment
FYI: Dark Side is passing judgment and grandstanding from 26 MILES away from the noise epicenter.
By SagHarborBob (91), Sag Harbor on Aug 12, 10 7:54 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By The Dark Side (8), Westhampton on Aug 13, 10 10:35 AM
Actually, I have lived for the last 29 years 1.6 miles from the approach end of runway 6/24 of Gabreski airport. Like Mr. Dalene, I can read the tail numnbers as the airplanes pass over my house.
By The Dark Side (8), Westhampton on Aug 13, 10 10:35 AM
I live in Noyac, about .6 miles from the LIPA right-of-way these helicopters use. It is worse on Friday and Sunday afternoons. My family owns a home in Wainscott south where the problem is business jets going over on their approach to the airport.

The airport has been there since the 1930's but the helicopter traffic has gotten worse in the past 3 years. If a law is in effect mandating a minimum altitude, then that should be enforced!
By BruceB (142), Sag Harbor on Aug 15, 10 8:47 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Bilge Water (131), East Hampton on Aug 16, 10 10:12 AM
These are the same type of people who built their homes near the bridghampton race course years ago and then complained of the noise. This caused the failure of the race course. In Mr. daleen's case, he bought his home long before the airport was opened to conmmercial use. My question is where were all these existing home owners when the airport was changed from private to commercial use? did they object at that time?
By Walt (292), Southampton on Aug 19, 10 4:38 PM
The 'copters fly over North Sea at times, OK, maybe alot of times, and the reverb literally shakes the walls.

The house is almost forty years old, and I'd swear the "bass" from the rotors is banging the nails out of the walls..

I'd think it would have "settled" by now...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 22, 10 8:49 PM
~ the LIPA line route directs helicopter traffic directly through the most ecologically sensitive area / nature preserve in NYS - the Long Pond Greenbelt

~ call 631-537-LOUD (5683) to log noise complaints
By bambi (76), bridgehampton on Aug 24, 10 7:46 AM
I would like something done about the pile driving machine and earth moving machine noise coming from Wainscott Sand & Gravel. The hammering noise and beeping noise starts at 6 am and goes on all day. The helicopters and planes can get very loud, but at least usually that is noise that comes and goes. The noise from the gravel plant goes on continuously and a noise impact study should be conducted on that to see how it is affecting the lives of Wainscott residents.
By Barbara Wainscott (5), Wainscott on Sep 15, 10 9:08 AM