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East Hampton Residents Complain Of Incessant Helicopter Noise During Summer Months

EAST HAMPTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - Resident say they can't take the noise of helicopters humming through East Hampton at all hours of the day and night in the summer months and they want something done about it.

The ritzy town wants to ban summer helicopter traffic five days a week, CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported.

The board proposed the ban after taking more than 22,000 complaints from residents, WCBS 880's Sophia Hall reported.

East Hampton Residents Complain Of Incessant Helicopter Noise During Summer Months

Choppers would be banned in and out of the airport from Thursday until Monday, Gusoff reported; noisy planes like jets and sea planes would be limited to one trip per week.

"Create a mandatory nighttime curfew. And of course there's always an exception for emergencies and when this perhaps gets the most attention is the weekend ban on helicopters during the summer season," Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said.

Cantwell told 1010 WINS the ban would reduce the operation of jets and helicopters at the airport by about 30 percent.

"People are entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of their homes and the quiet of the open space that we have in East Hampton and throughout the east end. We've fought many years to protect that open space and this is a fundamental reason why people want to live here and it's the basis of our local economy," Cantwell said.

"It's like being in a war zone. It's very much like being in Apocalypse Now," Kathleen Cunningham with the  Quiet Skies Coalition said.

Aviation company owner Cindy Herbst calls the ban drastic. She said the 45-minute chopper trip from Manhattan shuttles well-healed patrons that local businesses count on.

"People buy and rent houses for a lot of money out here, not so they can sit on the highway for five hours to get here," Herbst said.

Town officials said they aren't rolling up the welcome mat for the rich and famous, they just want them to find another way to get there.

Cantwell also said that based on a noise analysis that was done, the restrictions would have an impact of reducing the number of complaints by about 60 percent.

However, Friends of the East Hampton Airport told Hall if the ban was enacted, the town would essentially shut down the airport during the summer and put pilots out of work.

In 2012, the Town of North Hempstead voiced the same issue, saying the helicopter noise carrying passengers from Manhattan to Long Island was too much.

Sen. Charles Schumer said back then that new FAA rules would soon be in effect that would mandate the helicopters fly over the water, not over land.

CBS2 reported 25,000 chopper flights went in and out of East Hampton airport last summer.

East Hampton took over the airport last month; the FAA previously had jurisdiction.  Opponents are now suing  the FAA and the town over the flight ban.

A public hearing on the ban is scheduled for March 5.

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