Written by Rich Forestano, firstname.lastname@example.org Tuesday, 02 July 2013 14:40
Kurt Langjahr of New Hyde Park is on a mission to plant trees, yet not for the visual aesthetic, but to buffer the rumblings of airplanes flying overhead.
His next-door neighbors cut trees down in their backyard a few years ago, and that’s when he first noticed the noise. This was also after the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) changed flight patterns to JFK, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International airports.
“I told my wife ‘We moved to LaGuardia,’” he said. “We need more trees to serve as noise barriers.”
Langjahr happens to be Town Village Aircraft Noice Abatement Committee (TVASNAC) community liaison, an appointed position he has held since 1993. If the success of a New York bill spawns a sibling in New Jersey, Langjahr will have hard data to make his case for noise abatement--and the ears of top airtraffic offiicials.
In the 11th hour of the 2013 legislative session, New York State passed a bill that requires the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey (PA) to conduct a study examining land use compatibility with the rise in aircraft noise over Long Island. On Wednesday, June 26, Assemblyman Ed Ra held a press conference outside New Hyde Park’s Village Hall calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign the bill into law. The media event provided a demonstration, with deafening aircraft drowning out speakers every five minutes.
Ra, along with Assemblyman Edward Braunstein and Senators Jack Martins and Kemp Hannon, sponsored the bill. It passed in the senate on May 20.
The New Jersey Legislature would need to sign a similar bill into law in order for the study, part of the federal “Part 150” program for evaluating airports nationwide, to move forward. It has been introduced in the New Jersey senate.
Federal airport improvement grants would fund the study, which would include the three main airports. The bill would also provide for annual hearings with PA commissioners for residents affected by airplane noise. According to Ra, the FAA has spent more than $5 billion on Part 150 since its inception.
“[The study] would allow us to study noise concerns that are becoming far too common in our local communities,” Ra. “Hopefully it will move use toward broader conversations in addressing aircraft noise.”
Ra called New Jersey’s timeline on getting the bill through both houses “difficult to predict.”
Plane noise complaints have become the norm at New Hyde Park Village Board meetings. While Mayor Robert Lofaro realizes the town is near an airport, the village wants “fair distribution” of flight patterns. “Surrounding communities get frustrated, [too],” he added.
“We did not ask the control tower to operate [runway 22L] today to have planes fly over [village hall] for [dramatic] effect,” he said, as aircraft repeatedly interrupted his speech. “This is a natural occurrence in the village. It’s a great place to live, but on a Saturday afternoon, when the atmosphere is in the right conditions and the planes are coming over every minute, it’s challenging.”
Langjahr, who also serves in the volunteer post of director of environmental control for New Hyde Park, objects to the FAA’s high-handed decision-making.
“The community had no input on this air traffic redesign,” he said. “We made a push to have a seat at the table, so to speak.”
Martins said in a statement that, “this bill protects our families impacted by airplane noise by requiring the Port Authority to conduct studies and hold public hearings and then take steps to fix the problem.”
Braunstein felt this is the first step to addressing noise reduction efforts. “We’re confident that if we get this Part 150 study done, it will prove that there is a significant impact on our communities,” he said. “[Then] the FAA and the Port Authority will be required to find measures to remediate this problem.”
Runway patterns are influenced by wind, weather, noise-abatement procedures and construction projects, according to officials.
Seeking less aircraft noise, residents and activists have advocated a range of fixes: whether it be flight distribution during runway approaches, a ban on low-flying planes or fewer flights between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
“While safety is of course paramount, federal aviation regulations do provide a mechanism for considering the issue of aircraft noise and developing a plan to address noise issues that impact the surrounding neighborhoods,” Hannon said in a statement.
Kendall Lampkin, 17-year TVASNAC executive director, feels three things need to be addressed by the FAA. He also serves as executive assistant to Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray.
“First is safety,” he said. “Another significant issue the FAA knows all too well is operational efficiency. A third issue is environmental concerns and noise. It is a bipartisan issue that transcends the political parties and geographical boundaries.”