Northeast Queens airplane noise: community board wants a say in transit study

Both technical advisory committees assembled by Port Authority to study airplane noise are made up largely of government agencies and airline industry professionals.
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Northeast Queens residents want their voices heard loud and clear regarding airplane noise in their skies.

Community Board 7 (CB 7)of Flushing, Whitestone, and College Point is requesting that Borough President Melinda Katz push for more community stakeholder inclusion in advisory committees tasked with reducing airport noise pollution.

The technical advisory committees were created as part of Federal Airport Noise Compatibility Planning Part 150 Study undertaken by Port Authority at the request of Governor Andrew Cuomo. Both LaGuardia and Kennedy Airports are being studied by separate advisory groups as part of a larger roundtable discussion on the general issue of airplane noise.

Both committees are made up largely of government agencies and airline industry professionals, including representatives from various commercial airlines, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Town of Hempstead, the Queens borough president and the city Department of Environmental Protection. The community is represented in one seat of each group by a member of NY Community Aviation Roundtable.

Community members are allowed to sit and listen to information presented in the open meetings, but they are barred from having any input during committee discussion and are instead relegated to speaking one at a time during a public participation session.

According to Warren Schreiber of the CB 7 Aviation Committee, the board will submit a letter to Katz asking her to request an increase of committee seats for community groups.

Schreiber disputed claims by Port Authority that community members will not be able to give meaningful input because they lack the technical knowledge of the other committee members. He said that the lived experience of those residing near airports were a valuable addition to the ongoing study.

“When we hear noise, we know what it is,” Schreiber said.

CB 7 Chair Eugene Kelty that it would increase transparency for all residents if there would more community stakeholders in the technical advisory committee. He believed that these representatives should be chosen from community boards to enable the efficient sharing of information with residents and other boards affected by the issue.

“We have a foothold in the area and we should have some type of access to the committee,” Kelty said, “and then we can communicate.”

Susan Carroll — a community activist who has been following the issue of airplane noise for years and participates as a representative of NY Community Aviation Roundtable — said that the advisory committee should have members personally familiar with different levels of noise caused by planes throughout the years. She says that as a longtime Flushing resident, she can notice a noise increase since a rerouting of low flying planes in 2012 dubbed “the Tennis Climb.”

“They need the community input because we’re the ones living with this noise,” Carroll said.