East Hampton Village Preservationists Ask Board To Support Their Airport Noise Plan

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The East Hampton Village Preservation Society recently created a plan to reduce plane and helicopter noise stemming from the East Hampton Airport, which is owned and managed by East Hampton Town. Peter Wolf, the preservation society’s chairman, presented the plan’s recommendations to East Hampton Village Board members on Friday, asking for their support.

The plan outlines four points. The first asks for the town to stop accepting Federal Aviation Administration funds, saying that accepting them would “doom any chance” of local control over the airport’s scale and intensity of operations. Mr. Wolf said that the airport already runs at a “modest surplus” and can function without federal money and control, since the town can increase landing fees and start charging for parking.

The plan also suggests keeping flights from going over inland water bodies, such as Georgica and Hook ponds in East Hampton Village. It says that they enhance sound, which affects the surrounding areas.

The group also believes that by limiting the hours of operation to between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., the “onerous” noise impact of aircraft would be reduced during most residents’ “peaceful hours.” The airport is open 24/7.

“Unlike construction and garden maintenance, aircraft noise is not invited by residents, paid for by residents, or generated to benefit the needs of residents,” Mr. Wolf said. “Nor does it take place on a discrete site, or provide jobs for large numbers of local people.”

Finally, limiting the frequency of operations at the airport would lessen “intense clusters of disruptive flights,” which occur as often as every two or three minutes, according to the group.

Mr. Wolf said air use is the same as water and land use and having the village on board with the preservation society plan would greatly influence members of the East Hampton Town Board.

“This is dealing with the majority interest of the public realm,” he said. “We implore you to try and think about a way to be influential. Your silence on this issue is approval of the status quo,” Mr. Wolf told the Village Board.

Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. said the Village Board is very sensitive to the issue of airport noise and that it is a hot-button issue at the town level. He asked if the East Hampton Village Preservation Society had approached the Town Board yet with its proposal. Mr. Wolf said his group would go to the Town Board next.

“As a planner I’ve dealt with land use planning in communities for many years,” Mr. Wolf said. “I know this is a ticklish issue and I know by requesting you pay attention and consider this proposal is outside out your boundary, jurisdiction and maybe your comfort zone,” he said. “The VPS is so closely aligned with the village that we wanted to come here first.”

The mayor said while the board is supportive of what the group is trying to do, it will be up to the town to tackle the noise issue.

“With respect to the posture of Town Board, I don’t see any resolution of some of these issues in the immediate future,” Mr. Rickenbach said. “In the long term, remediation will take place, but will take place at the Town Board level. If there is sunlight at the end of this tunnel, this board would like to be a part of that as it is applicable to all town residents.”Village Adopts BudgetThe Village Board adopted a $19.7 million operating budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year. The spending plan reflects a $714,394 increase above the current budget of $19 million.

The village will collect $11.986 million through property taxes—a 1.9-percent increase over this year’s tax levy. Under the plan, the village tax rate would increase from $27 to $27.62 per $100 of assessed value, a 2.29-percent jump. An average taxpayer, living in a house valued at $1 million with an assessed value of $10,000, would see a tax bill increase of $62, from $2,700 to $2,762.

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