Landing fees go up at East Hampton's airport

A helicopter lands at East Hampton Airport on A helicopter lands at East Hampton Airport on Aug. 22, 2012. Photo Credit: John Roca

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The East Hampton Town Board has unanimously approved a proposal to allow landing fees to be raised at the town-owned airport.

The board voted 5-0 Thursday to increase rates in 15 different categories, including hiking the fee for light single-engine prop planes from $7 to $10. Fees for multi-engine turbine planes of 50,000 pounds or more will rise from $500 to $600. And fees for large helicopters went from $350 to $500.

In total, the changes are expected to increase airport landing fees from $1,197,500 to $1,269,038, assuming the volume of traffic is the same.

While no residents publicly opposed raising landing fees, about a dozen addressed the hearing, with many insisting the town come up with a new financial plan, so the airport does not have to take funds from the Federal Aviation Administration for improvements, which they said allows the FAA to set rules about airport use.

John Kirrane, who lives on the Southampton Town side of Sag Harbor Village -- the town line splits the village -- complained that he has to live with constant noise from planes departing and landing at the airport in Wainscott. "I've had your trash thrown in my back yard for the last 10 months," since one of the helicopter approach routes was changed, he said.

After the airport discussion, the meeting degenerated into booing and catcalls, after more than a dozen audience members repeatedly complained that town leaders ignore the problems in their community of Springs, with one unidentified resident suggesting the airport noise was getting more attention.

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Another, Neil Zelenetz, who said he has lived in Springs for 35 years, sparred verbally with Supervisor Bill Wilkinson. "I don't get paid enough for this," Wilkinson said.

"Then quit," Zelenetz replied, adding a loud, "boo."

Zelenetz said he did not just blame Wilkinson, and that he was angry because no one on the town board has helped solve his community's problems of noise, overcrowded housing, absentee landlords and high taxes. "They've ignored The Springs for two administrations," he said.

The meeting ended with no further action after a 90-minute public comment period.

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