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Avella bill tackles plane noise

Photo by Christina Santucci
By Phil Corso

After a summer in which residents throughout northeast Queens raised their voices over growing airplane noise, one state senator has introduced legislation that would put more power in the hands — and ears — of the people.

A bill introduced by state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) would require the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to routinely conduct noise and land use compatibility surveys, as outlined under federal aviation regulations, and also host public hearings to oversee aircraft noise complaints.

“My office continues to hear from homeowners who are irate at this abrupt increase in air traffic over their homes, which is causing an intolerable amount of noise pollution,” Avella said. “Frankly, this is unfathomable that the PANYNJ, which controls three of the busiest airports in the world in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world, has not conducted a study assessing the impact of aircraft noise in residential areas.”

According to Avella, the Federal Aviation Administration started testing new approach and departure paths for the major metropolitan airports throughout the Northeast under what the FAA calls the NextGen Program. The increase in the number of flights, Avella said, has created a lot of noise in the community from more air traffic flying overhead.

In Bayside, a group had joined forces with neighbors in both Queens and Nassau counties to form a unified voice against what they said was an increasingly intolerable rise in aircraft noise flying over their homes. Janet McEneany, a member of Community Board 11, helped lead a charge in northeast Queens to push back against the FAA.

“We just want to know why we have this noise and all these vapor trails,” McEneany said. “People want to know what’s happening. There has not been enough information put out to the communities.”

Earlier this summer, Avella joined with several northeast Queens leaders to press the FAA for answers. State Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) said there has not been enough communication between the agency and the communities affected by more airliner noise.

“We can’t tolerate this,” Braunstein said. “They tried their tests and they didn’t work. Now tell us when it is going to stop.”

Avella said FAA regulations provide a mechanism allowing the agency to consider aircraft noise and how it affects communities, which has been implemented at major airports outside New York and New Jersey. The senator called on the FAA to pay closer attention to the metropolitan area and to heed the calls from both lawmakers and citizens in the northeast to remain part of the discussions.

“While I understand new flight patterns may need to be instituted, they need to be properly evaluated to determine the impact on the quality of life for residents,” Avella said. “I introduced this legislation to give these residents a voice in a decision-making process that will have such a profound effect on their daily lives.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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