The Bayside community has been making itself heard over airplane noise in recent months and has now recruited some CUNY law students to help get its legal battle off the ground.
Earlier this week, Community Board 11 member Janet McEneaney went to CUNY School of Law to speak with 21 students who will explore her community’s possible legal challenge to the Federal Aviation Administration as a spring project for the semester. The students will present their legal findings to the board at its meeting in either May or June, she said.
The students will work under the guidance of professor Rebecca Bratspies to consider whether or not the FAA has operated legally as it made changes to its flight patterns at LaGuardia Airport and if the agency had considered community input as required by law.
“The objective here is to find out what the law says, and whether or not we can find answers to our questions,” McEneaney said. “This is a very complex and interesting legal question and I think it really has pedagogical value for the law students.”
For months McEneaney led a local charge against the FAA to address a noticeable increase in airplane traffic and noise coming out of LaGuardia Airport in northeast Queens, but said it has been nearly impossible to get any responses of substance from the agency.
“The FAA seems to be accustomed to dealing with people in communities, and I think they have learned how to divide and conquer,” McEneaney said. “They are very good at not saying things.”
Outrage ensued as the borough learned more about the FAA’s changes in arrival and departure patterns over residential neighborhoods in northeast Queens, which were implemented in February 2012 initially for a six-month trial basis. The agency then announced it would make the changes permanent in December, according to elected officials.
The uproar garnered community support toward the end of 2012 as elected officials from the city, state and federal governments added their clout to the cause against air and noise pollution.
Most recently, U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and Steve Israel (D-Hauppauge) sent a joint letter to the FAA urging it to actively seek community input when considering changes to its flight patterns.
“While we acknowledge that there is no perfect solution to airspace congestion, we believe that our constituents have been unfairly and unexpectedly burdened,” Meng and Israel said in a letter to FAA Administrator Michel Huerta. “The new routes were implemented without the consultation of local elected officials and constituents, an oversight that Carmine Gallo, the FAA regional administrator, acknowledged at an FAA briefing for local officials Jan. 18. “We hope that the FAA is able to produce a more balanced plan that would alleviate the noise pollution for our constituents and restore the quality of life in our neighborhoods.”
CB 11 also passed a resolution in its February meeting in response to residents’ complaints requesting the FAA to conduct an environmental impact study and to hold a public meeting in northeast Queens.
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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