Town of North Hempstead leads petition

North Hempstead joins state leaders to fight low-flying planes, deafening aircraft noise, air pollution and more

(Left to right) State Senator Jack Martins and Councilman Edward Scott joined North Hempstead Councilwoman Jennifer DeSena. (Photo courtesy of Councilwoman DeSena’s office)

Outside a Floral Park apartment building, North Hempstead Councilwoman Jennifer DeSena and Hempstead Councilwoman Don Clavin stood alongside government officials from across Nassau County to announce a joint petition against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on behalf of airport residents who suffer from low-flying aircraft, deafening aircraft noise, air pollution and other aviation disruptions. The petition calls on the FAA to study and explore alternative flight paths. If the FAA does not respond to the petition within 90 days, an official lawsuit will be filed against the government agency.

“Many neighbors ask me when we’re going to do something about the inevitable nuisance of airplane noise,” she said. “I’m happy to report that the time is now. We’re tired of having our outdoor gatherings with family and friends ruined. This summer should be the last one where we constantly look up and yell at each other. It’s time to hold the FAA accountable for their negligence.”

As the petition was announced, planes flew overhead, highlighting the officers’ goals. (Photo courtesy of Supervisor Clavin)

“I stand firmly in our call for action from the Federal Aviation Administration,” Assemblyman Ari Brown said in a recent Facebook post. “Our Long Island families deserve better than the constant noise and air pollution from air traffic, and it’s time for the FAA to stop ignoring its responsibilities. Despite numerous requests, the FAA has failed to conduct a comprehensive environmental review of the impacts on our residents. If the FAA continues to neglect the well-being of our communities, we are prepared to take legal action to protect our quality of life. Enough is enough.”

The weeks surrounding the Fourth of July are considered the busiest time of the year. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) estimates that a record 38 million people will fly across the United States. In fact, area residents will see a dramatic increase in flights overhead. On flight path 22 L/R, the usual flight path to JFK Airport, they can expect an average of one plane every 90 seconds. The planes on this flight path fly from Roslyn to JFK Airport at an altitude of less than 3,000 feet, eventually descending to below 2,000 feet over these neighborhoods. This causes deafening noise and dangerous air pollution over an area that is home to more than a million people. Officials pointed out that an environmental impact assessment for the area is long overdue, as the last one was conducted in 2017 and the number of flights over the area has increased by 50 percent since that time.

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2017 requires the FAA to conduct an environmental assessment or obtain a categorical exemption for continued use of the flight path. Officials stated that neither of these actions have been taken and the FAA’s negligence toward homeowners in the area has reached a boiling point. Given the unchecked increase in flights without regard to noise and pollution, Supervisor DeSena, along with other local politicians, has petitioned the FAA to study these impacts. In addition, officials urged the FAA to study alternative flight paths to reduce the negative impacts on local residents.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that aircraft flying at altitudes below 3,000 feet can cause air pollution. This pollution includes potentially dangerous toxins such as carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, sulfur dioxide and other trace pollutants – especially during takeoff and landing. Studies have shown that communities in and around this flight path – including Valley Stream, Hempstead, Inwood and West Hempstead – have higher than average rates of asthma, stomach cancer and prostate cancer, all of which are linked to exposure to aircraft exhaust. These sentiments have been echoed by officials and expressed numerous times over the years by the Town-Village Aircraft Safety & Noise Abatement Committee (TVASNEC), a comprehensive committee that identifies and refers aeronautical issues.

“I’ve been fighting this battle for nearly 15 years and it’s getting worse,” said State Senator Jack Martins. “I can tell you that the FAA has a long history of ignoring our community’s pleas for help. They don’t want to investigate the problem because they’re afraid of the consequences. They’d rather put our families at risk and turn a blind eye to the problem than find meaningful solutions.”

“The residents of our city deserve better,” said Supervisor DeSena. “The FAA has a responsibility to seriously consider a more equitable distribution of flight paths. We can no longer bear the brunt of this.”

Information provided by the Town of North Hempstead.