Story by Geoff Walter:
Local and state representatives detailed the next steps that are needed to quiet local airplane noise during a press conference Wednesday at the New Hyde Park Village Hall.
Wednesday's conference came on the heels of the passage of a bill last week in the New York State Legislature to address the concerns of aircraft noise in local communities in western Nassau County and Queens over which airplanes pass on their way to and from JFK and LaGuardia airports.
“This decision was made without any community input whatsoever, Assemblyman Edward Braunstein, D-Bayside, said “and no environmental impact study. In fact, the FAA for our area in northeast Queens, issued a categorical exclusion that said that their change would have no significant impact on the surrounding communities so they could go ahead with it; basically self-certifying that everything’s going to be fine.”
Airplane safety regulations require planes to land into the wind, which has been coming from the southwest for the past 19 months, placing their patterns directly over residential neighborhoods.
The various municipalities affected by the low-flying aircraft had formed a group TVASNAC (Town-Village Aircraft Safety & Noise Abatement Committee), which is dedicated to reducing such air traffic and noise over the residential areas in its members’ municipalities.
The bill requires the Port Authority to enter into the “Part 150 Program” that allows for mitigation efforts at the local level.
In order to qualify for federal funding, a Part 150 study has to be conducted by the airport, in this case JFK, LaGuardia and Newark, “and it would allow us to study the noise concerns that have become far to common in our local communities and helpfully move us towards broader conversation of addressing this issue,” Assemblyman Edward Ra, R-Franklin Square, said.
The legislation was introduced in the senate by Sen. Jack Martins, R-Mineola, and Sen. Kemp Hannon, R-Garden City, and in the assembly by Braunstein and Michele Titus, D-Far Rockaway. It must now be signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The study would most likely be conducted by an environmental consultant or outside contracting firm. Federal funding for the program is available, though exactly how much remains unclear due to governmental sequestration.
Ra stated that such studies have been conducted at other airports in New York State including Albany and Buffalo, as well as 470 across the country and that more than $5 billion has been spent on the Part 150 program since its inception.
The bill would also provide for annual hearings where residents of the counties around the airports could address Port Authority commissioners directly with noise complaints.
Any legislation having to deal with the Port Authority, a multi-state agency, must be passed by both the state governments of New York and New Jersey in order to become binding.
Ra stated that bill (S.2876) has already been introduced in the New Jersey State Legislature, but that the bill does not have a timeline in which it must be passed. The bill does specify a date for the study to be conducted.
“If that becomes an unrealistic end date because New Jersey hasn’t passed it yet, obviously we’d have to explore a chapter amendment or something like that to move the date forward because we certainly want the study done," Ra said. "But we do want it done right, we don’t want it rushed."