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East Hampton logs airport noise complaints

The new seasonal control tower at East Hampton

The new seasonal control tower at East Hampton Airport. The control tower will take control of the airspace up to 2,500 feet above the runways, bringing the busy airport under FAA control for the first time. Town officials say noise complaints about the airport should drop dramatically. Credit: Handout

Someone in Sag Harbor is really bothered by the noise of helicopters and private aircraft landing at East Hampton Town Airport.

One person complained to the town about aircraft noise 551 times in July, an average of more than 14 times a day, every day, including weekends.

That person, along with someone else in the area who filed 188 noise complaints, make up nearly half of the 1,498 complaints last month about aircraft noise from outside East Hampton Town.

Their identities are not revealed in the July report, the first monthly profile released by East Hampton under a new system of logging and identifying where noise complaints about the town-owned airport come from.

The report does not differentiate between complaints called in to the town's aircraft noise hotline -- 631-537-LOUD -- or filed online by clicking the red "File Aircraft Noise Complaint" box on the East Hampton Airport website: town.east-hampton.ny.us/htmlpages/Airport/AirportHome.htm.

"This doesn't dilute the value of the complaints in any way," said East Hampton Supervisor Bill Wilkinson. "But it isn't as broad-based as one would have expected. Apparently, a [landing] route that protects 99 percent of East Hampton's residents needs to be looked at a little more."

There were a lot more complaints from outside East Hampton Town than from communities within it.

East Hampton Village residents filed 353 complaints, while sparsely populated Wainscott, where the airport is located, had 86 complaints in July, coming from just 13 households.

Even Sag Harbor showed an odd split. Those on the Southampton side of the village, including residents of neighboring Noyack, logged 1,120 complaints, while those on the East Hampton side had just six complaints.

A dozen households on Shelter Island made 34 complaints, and more than 160 came from the North Fork -- 92 from Mattituck, 40 from Laurel and 30 from Baiting Hollow.

"What surprises me is the relatively few number of households directly affected by airport noise," said Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione, who is liaison to the airport. "A significant amount of town management and financial resources has been dedicated to addressing the legitimate concerns of our community."

East Hampton has spent $600,000 building a seasonal control tower at the airport and will spend $365,000 a year for at least three years to operate it.

In addition, officials have created a noise committee and are working to create a multitown helicopter airport advisory committee.

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