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Dec 15, 2009 5:04 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Questions still unanswered on airport plan

Dec 15, 2009 5:04 PM

The noise issues in a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for a Master Plan for the East Hampton Airport will not be addressed until a new Town Board takes office in January.

Questions raised at a September public hearing on the plan will need to be addressed by the town’s airport consultants, Young Environmental Sciences of Manhasset, despite the fact that the Town Board had initially planned to have the Planning Department prepare responses to the questions.

The town’s planning director, Marguerite Wolffsohn, said this week that the issues addressed at the public hearing required detailed technical analysis that should be conducted by Henry Young, who is an expert in airport issues. Mr. Young is expected to present a formal proposal for the added work to the Town Board before the end of the year, and to present the work to the new Town Board that convenes in January when it is finished. Young Environmental Sciences prepared the initial DEIS, which was presented to the town late in the summer.

The plan calls for the closing of crosswind runway 16-34 and the reopening of another crosswind runway, 4-22, which is currently in disrepair. It also calls for a seasonal control tower, which the town hopes to have in place by next summer and which many believe will help to limit the noise generated by aircraft, particularly helicopters, as they approach the airport, by enforcing what are currently just suggested guidelines for altitude and flight paths on the approach to the airport.

Also, last Thursday, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Representative Tim Bishop met with Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Randy Babbitt in Senator Schumer’s Washington, D.C., office to ask the FAA to draft regulations to stop helicopters from flying low over Long Island. Both legislators’ attorneys are meeting with the FAA’s attorneys this week to discuss possible regulations.

“These low-flying helicopters have tortured and tormented Long Island communities for far too long,” Mr. Schumer said in a release. “The bottom line is the only entity that can rein these rogue choppers in once and for all is the FAA. We appreciate Administrator Babbitt’s attention to this critical issue and look forward to working with him to get these new regulations in place as soon as possible.”

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