What started as a small group of Bayside activists who had heard enough of the rising airplane noise over their homes has since exploded into a boroughwide effort against the Federal Aviation Administration, and their efforts were further validated when Community Board 11 voted to stand behind them.
Janet McEneaney, president of Queens Quiet Skies, said the group was now working on establishing itself as an advocacy group for all of Queens, not just the northeast sector. The group has been growing organically since its inception last year and has surpassed all expectations, she said.
“We keep having more and more people coming to us from all over Queens. It’s caused us to really step back and think about what it is we’re doing,” McEneaney said. “Our goal now is to organize ourselves outside of just northeast Queens and help everyone affected by this.”
What she was referring to was an ongoing and drastic influx of jet noise overhead, which residents of the borough said was never the norm and has the potential to reduce property values. The fight against the FAA has virtually consumed Queens Quiet Skies and has several different facets, included one which CB 11 passed a resolution in favor of Monday night.
In their first meeting since returning from summer recess, CB 11 members passed a resolution urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill that would require the Port of Authority of New York and Jersey to conduct a noise and land use compatibility study, potentially shedding light on the increase in airliner noise.
“Any message to the governor that we’re out here wanting him to take care of his constituents will be helpful,” McEneaney said of the support. “That’s why we think everyone should write to the governor and explain that we voted. The airlines and the Port Authority do not vote — we do.”
The resolution was written in reaction to a categorical exclusion the FAA issued itself after changing its air traffic patterns over northeast Queens in accordance with the NextGen flight procedures, which create a more precise and predictable path for planes to follow. The move ultimately allowed the FAA to excuse itself from conducting a proper study of how any changes might affect residents.
The FAA took its practice of removing itself from environmental studies one step further last month when the agency tried to alter its environmental policy in implementing new flight paths throughout the country. The agency released a draft of order 1050.1F — Policies and Procedures for Considering Environmental Impacts, which includes a proposal to allow for a similar categorical exclusion to NextGen implementation nationwide. According to the proposal, studies would only be conducted if FAA administrators see fit without soliciting any public comment.
The FAA said there would be a public comment period for the draft order through Sept. 30, during which time residents can submit comments to the agency through regulations.gov docket number FAA-2013-0685. McEneaney said she and her group would be sure to speak up.
“Every other agency in America has to be subject to review under a federal statute, that if an action they take has an impact on the environment or the life of people living nearby, then there has to be some sort of environmental assessment of it,” McEneaney said. “For the NextGen procedures, there hasn’t been. The only judgment will be the judgment of the FAA.”
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2013 Community News Group
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