Thursday, August 01, 2013

East Hills, New York, to hold aircraft noise meeting

Up in the sky in East Hills is neither a bird nor Superman.

According to village officials, the skies are filled instead with airplanes, buzzing loudly overhead and flying too low for comfort.

The village has scheduled a meeting at its Village Theater on Aug. 5 at 7:30 p.m. in which it plans to discuss the problem with residents and devise a “plan of action” against the federal government, which regulates air traffic control.

The meeting is open to the first 100 residents who register online, but Village of East Hills Mayor Michael Koblenz said in an e-mail sent to residents on July 29 that he urges all residents to sign a petition “requesting the FAA and Port Authority equitably distribute the routes so that the burden is shared fairly by all communities.”

“It’s a nuisance and we’re going to do what we can do,” Koblenz said. “I’m not saying you can stop it, I’m just saying okay, let’s have equal distribution, don’t put everything over Long Island.”

On July 16, Koblenz met with Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills), officials from the Federal Aviation Administration and village officials from across the North Shore at Old Brookville’s Village Hall to discuss the flow of air traffic on Long Island.

“I am committed to working with the FAA and local mayors to continue the communication and see that we arrive at an acceptable resolution to this quality of life issue,” Israel said in a statement.

Koblenz has urged residents in attendance at board of trustees meetings in recent months to write letters voicing their discontent with the noise to Israel and state Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola), and the village created an aircraft noise abatement committee at its May 20 meeting to direct residents’ complaints.

Josh Peltz, who at the time had recently moved to the village, was appointed the committee’s chair.

“As mayor, I can’t really do anything,” Koblenz said. “I can rally the troops as much as I can rally troops, but I’ve already done that. Congressman Israel has been very helpful and he’s done all he can do.”

The village sent an e-mail to residents on July 23 signed by Koblenz in which he said 43 percent of John F. Kennedy Airport arrivals in June were rerouted to runway 22L, which has increased the amount of aircraft flying over East Hills.

Koblenz wrote the FAA had previously agreed that the runway would only be used as a last resort, and the action presents “an alarming pattern which is greatly increasing both noise and air pollution throughout our community.”

Koblenz suggested residents call the Port Authority directly to voice their dissatisfaction with the air traffic, rather than call the Town of North Hempstead’s 311 line, because large numbers of complaints would be noticed by FAA officials and action would be taken.

Efforts to reach the FAA Tuesday were unavailing.

Koblenz said he began writing letters to the FAA in 1999 about air traffic control, and while the noise has improved at times over the years, a permanent solution has not been found.

“We want our fair share of equitable landings,” Koblenz said. “I’m not saying don’t fly over us, because that’s stupid, but maybe don’t always fly over the same place.”

Koblenz last week returned from a family vacation to Europe in which he said his plane flew into John F. Kennedy Airport from over the Atlantic Ocean and did not pass over Long Island on its route.

“Maybe you do a few more of those instead of flying right over your house,” Koblenz said.