A bill requiring the Federal Aviation Administration to re-evaluate the North Shore helicopter route — which North Fork residents said has created noise around the area — is heading to President Donald Trump’s desk and could be signed into law after the Senate passed the bill Wednesday on a 93-6 vote.
The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, passed by both the House and Senate, contains legislation that will require the FAA to reassess the North Shore helicopter route and address the noise impact on affected communities, improve altitude enforcement and consider alternatives such as an all-water route over the Atlantic Ocean. The agency would have 30 days to start the route’s formal review upon the bill’s signage into law.
The FAA would also be required to hold a public hearing on the helicopter route in impacted communities and open a public comment period, both of which must take place within 30 days of the signing of the bill. The public comment period must last for at least 60 days.
FAA spokesman Jim Peters said Thursday the agency could not comment.
“For years, the FAA has ignored the concerns of residents, from the North Shore route’s planning to its continued use, while day-to-day quality of life has suffered due to the persistent issue of helicopter noise on the East End,” Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) said Wednesday in a statement. “Finally, the FAA is forced to listen. I urge the president to sign this important proposal into law.”
John Cullen, 58, a homeowner in the Northville Beach section of Riverhead, said the legislation was a “step in the right direction” in providing relief to both him and his neighbors, who have dealt with noise generated from helicopters flying above their properties at low altitudes because of the North Shore route.
“This last summer was ‘the summer of hell,’” said Cullen, a member of the Northville Beach Civic Association, noting double-engine helicopters have sometimes flown over his house around 11 a.m., which he said “sounded like there was a train coming down the road.”
“I’m looking for some peace and quiet when I bought my house [in 2003]. I don’t have that anymore,” Cullen said.
Cullen said he was hoping the agency would conduct a “fair” study of the route and consider an all-water helicopter route oriented through the South Shore, or other kinds of all-water options.
Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said Wednesday she urged President Trump “to sign this bill into law, and I hope that this finally leads to relief for us in Riverhead.”
"The East End has had enough. The endless parade of helicopters flying right over our heads is completely eroding our quality of life and threatens our health, safety and welfare," Southold Supervisor Scott Russell said Thursday.