Thursday, September 19, 2013

Nassau County, New York: Air noise complaints up – East Hills official

A liaison between the Village of East Hills and the Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday that even though residential complaints about airplanes flying through village airspace have increased, the FAA still has not taken action.

“Just to give a brief update on where we are with the aircraft issue, the FAA and Port Authority has been supplying data regularly on the flights coming into our area,” said Rob Liebowitz, one of the village’s representatives on FAA affairs.

Addressing the board of trustees during its Thursday meeting, Liebowitz said complaints about aircraft frequently flying through village airspace have risen since East Hills held a seminar outlining ways residents could voice their concerns to the FAA, Port Authority and state and federal elected officials.

“In June there were seven complaints from our general area, in July 219, and in August there were 638,” Liebowitz said.

But Liebowitz said little progress has been made to reduce the frequency of flights passing through East Hills to reach John F. Kennedy Airport’s 22L or 22R runways.

Liebowitz said the 22L and 22R runways account for half of all landings at JFK, and that landings remain constant throughout the day even though the Port Authority agreed in 2000 to only use those routes overnight for emergency purposes.

Liebowitz said planes pass over East Hills as low as 1,500 feet when they should be flying at nearly twice that altitude, increasing the volume of the aircraft noise.

Liebowitz also cited data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organization that states noise is considered safe at 55 or fewer decibels, though he said the FAA regulates noise safety at 65 decibels.

Planes passing East Hills, he said, have been recorded at 80-90 decibels.

Liebowitz said the village’s petition imploring the FAA and Port Authority to find alternative routes for planes has amassed 900 signatures.

But Village of East Hills Mayor Michael Koblenz said a petition may not make the kind of impact in lessening airplane noise that the urging of elected officials might.

“We all know that [U.S. Sen. Charles] Schumer has the power to turn it off. He’s a senior senator there. He can call and make a lot of noise to the FAA,” Koblenz said.

Last month, Schumer, along with fellow U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. representatives Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills), Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) and Grace Meng (D-Queens) in writing a letter to Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye and Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Michael P. Huerta. The officials called for the implementation of additional airplane noise monitors are needed to more accurately monitor airplane noise levels near JFK and LaGuardia.

“We understand that the Port Authority is in the process of upgrading the Airport Noise and Operations Monitoring System with the latest technology and creating a public Web site that will make data accessible within 24 hours,” the officials wrote. “We applaud the Port Authority for this effort. We believe that the next step should be adding additional noise monitors so that the affect of airplane noise can be understood in all communities.”

Liebowitz said he recently issued a letter to the FAA and Port Authority with questions and concerns the village has regarding airplane noise, adding he hopes to receive some answers.

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