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After no response to Southold’s petition regarding helicopter route, Zeldin issues stern rebuke to FAA

January 25, 2017
In The News

More than two months after Southold Town submitted a petition to the Federal Aviation Administration requesting the agency to reconsider its decision to extend the north shore helicopter route, Representative Lee Zeldin is asking the agency’s administrator for an “immediate response” to the petition.

If the FAA does not immediately respond, Zeldin said, he will renew his call in earnest for the immediate replacement of the FAA administrator.

“It has been well over two months since the Town of Southold filed an important petition with the FAA regarding the abrupt August 2016 extension of the New York North Shore Helicopter Route, which was done without public input or consultation with local leaders,” Zeldin said. The Town of Southold has not had any response from the FAA, he said.

“If this is not completed immediately, I will renew my call in earnest for the immediate replacement of the Administrator,” Zeldin warned in a letter sent to FAA administrator Michael Huerta today.

Southold Town filed a petition with the federal agency on November 14, claiming the FAA’s rulemaking in July violated the federal Administrative Procedure Act, depriving Southold Town and the public of their right to notice and opportunity to be heard.

The town also charged the agency with violating presidential executive order 13132, which the town says required the FAA to consult with Southold officials before extending the route. The rulemaking was also arbitrary and capricious, the town argues.

The town is prepared to take the federal agency to court, officials said in November, but decided to give the FAA the chance to remedy the wrong on its own.

“The FAA must respond immediately to Southold and reopen a docket on the NSR to address the nontransparent nature in which the four-year extension was issued last August,” Zeldin said. “The people of the North Fork of Long Island continue to have their quality of life, property values, and local economy impacted by aircraft noise and the actions of the FAA, and deserve a response.”

The FAA in July published its decision to summarily extend through 2020 the north shore helicopter route, which has been funneling virtually all NYC-Hamptons helicopter traffic over the North Fork since 2012. The rule was due to sunset Aug. 6.

The FAA published a final rule in the July 25 Federal Register extending the route for four years, surprising residents, local elected official and even the East End congressman, Rep. Lee Zeldin. It did not provide the 30-day public comment period prior to the rule adoption, as required by the Federal Administrative Procedure Act. The agency justified dispensing with the comment period by saying it did not want to confuse helicopter pilots mid-season.