North Shore towns urge FAA to reduce air traffic noise

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North Shore towns urge FAA to reduce air traffic noise
Bill Cutrone, president of the Lakeville Estates Civic Association. (Photo by Noah Manskar)

Municipalities across the North Shore are banding together to decry high air traffic noise, fighting for the Federal Aviation Administration to reroute plane arrivals at JFK and LaGuardia airports away from local towns and instead over water.

Overhead airplane noise is nothing new in Nassau County. It has been an ongoing battle for local government leaders, a battle that has lasted around 15 years, according to state Sen. Jack Martins, who oversees the 7th District, including New Hyde Park, Roslyn and East Williston.

Martins is well-aware of residents’ frustration. Most recently, Bill Cutrone, president of the New Hyde Park-based Lakeville Estates civic, sent a letter to Martins March 25 imploring him to address the issue of plane noise.

In the past, the FAA had agreed to help mitigate air traffic noise by mandating planes be at an altitude of 3,000 feet around 15 miles out from JFK before they begin their descent, Cutrone said.

“Experiencing several years of the FAA’s formula, it is clear FAA’s formula is flawed and actually does very little to alleviate the worst noise problems,” Cutrone wrote. “The 3,000 ft, 15 mile out is terribly insufficient and must be revised.”

He suggested the FAA rework the order of takeoffs and landings so landings approach the runway from the south side over the ocean instead of from the north side.

Cutrone pointed out that the FAA formula for allowable plane noise does not take into account jet size. He claimed that plane size makes “a big difference” in noise and demanded that any new plane noise formula take into account jet size.

The air noise decibel readings above New Hyde Park, Garden City Park, Herricks, Mineola and Floral Park are unacceptable levels for personal health and safety, Cutrone claimed.

“FAA must do better because plane noise is impacting communities, schools, businesses, long term, day and night,” Cutrone wrote.

When asked whether he would reach out to the FAA and demand changes, Martins said it is not just the FAA who should shoulder the blame.

“We do have to continue to put pressure on the FAA, but I do think that the Port Authority has some jurisdiction here as well with regard to their responsibility to ensure that their routing of airplanes in airports does not affect the health and safety of communities like ours,” Martins told Alb Media.

Martins was unable to give a timeline for when residents could expect changes from the FAA. He acknowledged it is “slow going, certainly, dealing with the FAA as a federal agent.”

Martins attended a meeting hosted by East Hills Mayor Michael Koblenz March 21 to discuss the issue of air traffic noise. Koblenz has long advocated for changes to be made to FAA regulations to mitigate noise over the village.

Most attendees at the meeting were local officials, though some residents were present.

“I think the consensus between the various mayors, supervisor, and other stakeholders and civic leaders that were at the meeting would attest to [changes being needed],” Martins said, “that the FAA has to be pushed, forced, into taking action.”

But it is not so easy to force a federal agency into action. A study was commissioned to gauge the exact noise levels from planes over local towns and its findings were supposed to be made available on Sunday, according to Martins. The state senator said he had not yet received that report as of Monday evening.

“The FAA is supposed to be enforcing the rules. They’re flying too low before landing. And they’re flying the wrong route,” East Williston Mayor Bonnie Parente said. “But they’re getting away with it because nobody’s challenging them.”

In East Williston, newly sworn-in Trustee Rushi Vaidya will act as the liaison for air traffic noise issues.

Parente acknowledged that while air traffic noise is a problem in East Williston, noise levels in town are not nearly as bad as they are in East Hills.

One option Koblenz discussed during the air traffic noise meeting March 21 was a possible lawsuit, Parente said. Other municipalities, including a town in Arizona, have sued the FAA over noise levels and won their cases; however, the rules are still not being enforced in that Arizona town, Parente said.

Another village in Illinois filed a lawsuit against the FAA to compel the agency to review alternatives that would deliver relief from overnight airplane noise in October 2023, according to the Village of Elk Grove website. But the village dismissed the lawsuit in December.

It is unclear whether local municipalities will move forward with the lawsuit. The suit would require a number of local villages to participate, since it would cost around $1 million, Parente said.

But from New Hyde Park to East Hills to East Williston and beyond, local mayors and government leaders agree that overhead air traffic noise is an issue worth tackling.

“I don’t know what’s going to come of this, but I think we owe it to our neighbors in East Hills and to ourselves because [air traffic noise] does affect us at times to pay attention to it,” Parente said.

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1 COMMENT

  1. It’s about time. The FAA and Port Authority of NY NJ both need to be held accountable. Noise abatement needs to be held to a higher priority than efficiency and that is the biggest problem. These planes in East Hills and Herricks are every 30-60 seconds when both 22L and 22R are used for arrivals into JFK. And they fly as low as 1600 fr AGL

    Thank you Senator Martins. But we also need Congressman Tom Suozzi to act as well as Schumer and Gillibrandt.

    The time to act is now!

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