Centre Island officials have proposed a law to generally prohibit helicopter landings and takeoffs in the village other than for emergencies.
The law, introduced by village trustees at their meeting Wednesday, would provide three existing helipads with a path to become permitted — including one on Billy Joel's property.
New York State requires owners of private airports or heliports to complete a number of steps, including local municipal approval, before they can get state approval. Centre Island’s village code doesn’t include regulations addressing helicopter use — something village officials said has created a nuisance in recent years.
The proposed law would prohibit helicopter landings and takeoffs from Centre Island with exceptions for governmental purposes or emergencies. It would grandfather in three existing helipads, providing they comply with a number of regulations including a limit of 15 flight events — a take off and landing — per month. The board could also issue permits for individual flight events. The village plans to hold a hearing on the proposed law in May.
John Chase, the Glen Cove-based attorney for village resident Clive Holmes, told trustees Wednesday the proposed law would deprive Holmes and his wife of their property rights.
“The board is well aware the Holmeses use that helicopter as a means of transportation on a daily basis to and from their place of employment,” Chase said. “You know that you’re intentionally taking his right to use that helicopter to go to and from work.”
Chase also objected to a provision to extinguish Holmes' right to keep the helipad if his property were subdivided.
Holmes, a founder and managing partner of Manhattan-based The Silverfern Group, a private equity firm, said in January he would sue the village if his helipad was taken away.
“If you proceed with adopting of this law in this form, the Holmeses intend to take every action possible to protect their rights,” Chase said at Wednesday night's meeting.
“We have a right to defend our actions and then a judge can decide who’s right and who’s wrong,” Deputy Mayor Michael Chalos said in response.
Trustee Peter Furniss, speaking during a break in the meeting, said the village needs regulations to either make helipads legal or ban them completely.
“I don’t necessarily believe the argument of 'taking' because your heliport is not legal in the first place,” Furniss said, referring to Chase’s comments. “We’re not taking anything.”
Joel’s attorney, Anthony Guardino of Uniondale, who attended the meeting, said he had not reviewed the language of the proposal with his client.
“I don’t believe you’ll have any real objections to the provisions of the law" from Joel, Guardino said. He suggested a change to the language that referred to individuals as homeowners rather than corporations that own property. Joel’s estate is owned by a limited liability company, property records show.