When the Federal Aviation Administration extended its North Shore Helicopter Route in 2016 for four more years, we argued in this space that it was another example of government sticking with the status quo rather than addressing a problem.
At the time, we argued the FAA had failed to take into account any public input before making its decision.
Fast forward two years, and thanks to legislation from Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), the FAA has been forced to listen to residents’ concerns at three public workshops, including one held in Riverhead earlier this month.
Of course, nothing comes easy, and so the workshops failed to live up to the mandated public hearing format that the legislation required. Many who attended the Riverhead workshop said the FAA was failing to take them seriously by not sending any administrators who were prepared to answer questions or allowing people to publicly speak in front of the group.
Mr. Zeldin said the forums failed to comply with the law. “On the heels of these ‘workshops,’ Senator [Chuck] Schumer and myself each just sent a letter to the FAA Eastern Region regional administrator underscoring the fact that these forums fail to comply with federal law and demanding the FAA hold a public hearing immediately,” he said.
Now we wait to see if that happens. In the meantime, there’s plenty that can be done to get the FAA’s attention. The agency is accepting online comments through January 2, 2019. That’s ample time for East End residents who are fed up with the constant buzz overhead to outline their concerns in written format. It’s imperative that people take the time to do so.
Comments can be sent not only through the online form, but through regular mail, fax or hand delivered in Washington, D.C. Road trip, anyone?
Here’s how to contact the FAA:
* Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for sending your comments electronically.
* Mail: Send comments to Docket Operations, M-30; U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Room W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
* Hand Delivery or Courier: Take comments to Docket Operations in Room W12-140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
* Fax comments to Docket Operations at (202) 493-2251.