North Fork residents to FAA: Keep choppers over water

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JAMESPORT -

North Fork residents are hoping a series of meetings this week with the Federal Aviation Administration will be a breakthrough after years of complaining about overhead helicopter noise.

Residents in places such as Northville and Mattituck say some aircraft have been ignoring requests to fly a longer northern route completely over the Long Island Sound or a southern route over the Atlantic Ocean that avoids flying over North Fork homes.

"Finally, the FAA is forced to listen," U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, who helped get the meetings approved, said in a statement. "The best path forward is an all water route over the Atlantic Ocean."

Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith agrees.

"People that want to take a helicopter to come out or seaplane to get to where they need to be is fine but it shouldn't have such an impact on everybody else's daily lives," she says.

The first of three meetings was held Tuesday night at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City. The next will be held Wednesday at Riverhead Middle School, with the final meeting coming on Thursday in Flushing, Queens.

The meetings are not public hearings; more of a workshop-like meeting during which the FAA says residents can meet with aircraft experts and have their complaints officially recorded with the agency.

Residents say it's not exactly the type of meeting they wanted, but they call it a good first step.

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