The first month of the summer season and the July 4 holiday weekend saw substantial increases in aircraft traffic at East Hampton Airport—and soaring numbers of complaints, both calls and online complaints, about noise from residents across the region.
While the total number of flights in and out of the airport through the end of June actually was down slightly compared to the first half of 2014, both Memorial Day weekend and the July 4 weekend saw big leaps in traffic, despite new nighttime curfews that shouldered traffic into a narrower window of operations at the airport.
According to a report to the Town Board this week by Airport Manager Jemille Charlton, Memorial Day weekend saw total flights into and out of the airport climb by 28 percent over 2014, with more than 1,000 flights over the three days. July 4 weekend saw an even larger jump, up 52 percent from last year.
Even more dramatic, however, was the number of complaints about traffic to the airport—and even about some aircraft not going to the South Fork airport—generated from residents around the region.
Complaints, Mr. Charlton’s report showed, more than tripled over the Memorial Day weekend compared to 2014, particularly complaints about helicopter noise. For the July 4 holiday, the number of complaints was up, but by less, 42 percent, largely because the number of complaints on July 4 weekend in 2014 were so much higher than Memorial Day 2014.
But the report also shows that substantial portions of the complaints received were coming from the same sources.
While the total number of complaints over Memorial Day weekend climbed by more than 800 complaints over 2014, the number of different complainants climbed by only 46. Mr. Charlton’s report details the average number of complaints logged per household—the breakdown over Memorial Day climbed from 4.8 complaints per household in 2014 to 9.5 in 2015, and from 7 to 9.8 per household over the July 4 weekend.
The total complaints over the July 4 weekend went up by 351 but came from only three more sources compared to 2014.