Southampton Village may restrict the number of landings at its helipad on Meadow Lane each week during summer.
A new proposed law would allow each helicopter to land only three times per week from July 1 through September 15. Currently, pilots can land and take off as many times as they like during the summer, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. In the winter months, the 7 p.m. cutoff is moved up to before dark. The new law would not apply to the winter months.
A public hearing on the law is scheduled for the Village Board meeting on Tuesday, June 23, at 6 p.m. The new restrictions would be effective immediately once the board adopts them.
If the restrictions are approved, the village will be alerted by Vector Airport Systems, the company that bills helipad users, if a helicopter exceeds three landings per week. Pilots who do not comply with the law could receive a fine of as much as $1,000 or as much as 15 days of jail time, or both, according to Village Administrator Stephen Funsch.
Village officials began looking into the use of the helipad in light of restrictions on helicopter landings East Hampton Town has attempted to implement at East Hampton Airport. The restrictions there would limit any single helicopter to one takeoff and landing per week during summer months—a rule designed to curb the number of flights by helicopter shuttle services that use East Hampton Airport to take people to and from Manhattan.
The town has agreed to put off enforcing the new restrictions so a federal judge can rule on an injunction sought by Friends of the East Hampton Airport, a group that represents aviation businesses. The group is challenging the new regulations in court.
In March, Southampton Village officials had expressed concern about increased use of the Meadow Lane helipad once East Hampton Town started to enforce its restrictions. Last month alone, Mr. Funsch said, there were 120 landings, up from 83 in May 2014. Landings at the helipad have increased so far this year, except in February and April, which saw slight decreases. There were 250 landings at the helipad last July, and 283 last August.
Mayor Mark Epley said at a Village Board meeting on Thursday, June 11, that the new proposal is a sound one, as he believes East Hampton Town’s new regulations are too strict. “I think three [landings] is a more reasonable number,” he said.
Village Attorney Richard DePetris said that having the public hearing on the law later this month will give the village the option of implementing the regulations by July, when helicopter traffic typically begins to increase. However, he said it would be helpful to know how East Hampton Town’s situation will pan out, because if the restrictions there go into effect, many helicopter pilots blocked from using East Hampton Airport might turn to Southampton Village’s helipad.
“It would be nice to know before we did something ourselves, but we might have to make that judgment in the dark as opposed to in the light,” Mr. DePetris said.