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From The Desk Of NY State Senator Jack Martins: August 22, 2013

Peace and Quiet  

I was recently speaking with one of my staff via cell phone as he walked his dog late in the evening. Unfortunately, we had to stop our conversation about a half dozen times as he waited for the noise from overhead aircraft to pass.  So to those who ask me about airplane noise, yes, I do understand how aggravating it is. To be sure, I live with it every day, like most of you.

The problem becomes especially clear as many of us spend time outdoors with family and friends during the summer.  Not that we don’t hear it when we’re in our homes. We do, but being outside just makes the problem that much more obvious. I guess you could call it par for the course when living next to three major airports, but it was never this bad, never this loud. That’s why I want you to know that I’m working to get something done about it.    

As I’ve written before, it’s a particularly difficult problem to tackle because airports fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration. State legislators like me don’t have much recourse as far as regulatory practices.  But we can work directly with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey that oversees the regional airports, so I’ve co-sponsored a bill in the New York State Senate that calls for a noise and land use compatibility survey to be conducted. Thus far it has not only passed the Senate but also passed the New York State Assembly. The bill needs only to be signed by Governor Cuomo and we’ll be half way home. Since the Port Authority is a bi-state authority, it must also pass the New Jersey State Legislature and be signed by Governor Christie. The companion bill was introduced in the New Jersey legislature on June 17 and I’ll be sure to keep you posted on its progress.

A noise and land use compatibility study would confirm what we already know – that our neighborhoods are being unfairly burdened by the frequent use of certain runways at the airports. With data like that in hand, the Port Authority can then focus on requiring actions to mitigate the impact to our communities. Ideally, that will include reconsidering approaches to the airports that direct airplanes further away from our homes.

I thank those who have been diligently calling attention to this problem. As you can see, changing the procedures involved is multi-faceted and difficult, but it all starts with an objective analysis of noise impacts at ground level and this legislation does that. Our persistent involvement is key to making sure our quality of life is not sacrificed solely to the convenience of air travel. And our patience will see to it that one does not necessarily stand at cross purposes to the other.

For now, please join me in urging Governor Cuomo to sign the bill we passed in New York and call your friends and relatives in New Jersey to encourage their state legislators to move on their version of the bill.