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Helicopter Wars on Centre Island

Centre Island Village officials are proposing a law to limit helicopter landings and takeoffs in the village to 15 per month, and to freeze the building of new helipads.

At the Wednesday April 17th meeting, village trustees introduced the law, which makes an exception for three of the helipads that are currently in use on Centre Island (there are others). There is currently a moratorium on new requests for helicopter helipads.

Centre Island Local Law 2-2018, (the moratorium) extended the provisions of Local Law 2-2017 for a six-month period with the option of an additional 90-days.

The Village has retained airport and aviation consultants to review how local helicopter activity impacts residents. The state requires owners of heliports to complete a number of steps, including local municipal approval, before they can get state approval (or get the FAA involved). As Centre Island’s village code doesn’t include regulations addressing helicopter use this has become a hot button issue.

The proposed law would prohibit helicopter landings and takeoffs from Centre Island (with some exceptions) and would grandfather in the three existing helipads, providing they comply with a number of regulations, including monthly limits on flights (15 take-offs and landings). The board could also issue permits for individual flight events. The village plans to hold a hearing on the proposed law on Wednesday, May 8th.

Some residents who use the helicopter frequently would be affected by the new law. Resident Clive Holmes who uses his helicopter to commute, strongly objected to the provision limiting the number of flights. He is considering legal action if the Village does adopt this new law.

Billy Joel, who owns a property on Centre Island with one of the three helipads that will be grandfathered, was represented at the meeting by his lawyer.

Most local villages already have laws that prohibit or restrict the use of aircraft, as well as the building of structures for said aircraft: Bayville, Brookville, Old Brookville, Upper Brookville, Oyster Bay Cove, Cove Neck, Mill Neck, Muttontown, Lattingtown and Matinecock.

Centre Island Mayor Lawrence Schmidlapp previously suggested that the helicopter issue is such a strongly divisive topic, that it has the potential to become a village election issue.

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