Tag Archive | "Southampton Town"

Southampton Opens Satellite Office

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Southampton Town earlier this month opened a satellite Land Management office at the Hampton Bays Community Center at 25 Ponquogue Ave in Hampton Bays in an effort to provide more convenient access to residents and members of the local building trades.

The office will be open on Mondays and Tuesdays only from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Employees will be on hand to accept properly completed applications for building permits, zoning, planning and environmental matters and other services handled through the department.

“Traffic alone creates major logistical hardships for residents and visitors to the East End,” said Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst in a release.  “The satellite office will significantly reduce travel time for residents and workers who live or have job sites west of the canal.”

Dinosaur Sighting in Bridgehampton

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Pastor Katrina Foster and daughter Zoya pose with the giant raptor statue in front of Bridgehampton’s Incarnation Lutheran Church. Photo by Mara Certic.

By Mara Certic

People driving through Bridgehampton may be searching for an explanation behind the newest lawn ornament at the Incarnation Lutheran Church this week.

But according to Pastor Katrina Foster, the 350-pound, nine-foot-tall raptor is spending the week in front of the church not to provide any sort of comment or message but simply to provide a little bit of comic relief.

Three years ago, as Pastor Foster drove past Yesterday’s Treasures—the statue store on County Road 39 in Southampton that often resembles a prehistoric, stationary zoo—she turned to her wife and asked “Wouldn’t it be funny if we put a dinosaur in front of the church?”

When her wife, Pamela, responded with laughter, Pastor Foster “knew she was onto something,” she said.

Larry Schaeffer, at Yesterday’s Treasures, agreed to loan out the dinosaur for free for one week a summer (“you can’t have it for long, it’ll lose its impact,” he reportedly warned Pastor Foster). The only condition: that the church cover the cost of insuring the dinosaur—which was paid after the church’s insurance company determined the dinosaur was worth the equivalent of a high-end photocopier.

This is the third year of “Dino Days” at the Bridgehampton Church, but the first year that Pastor Foster’s daughter, Zoya, has been home from sleep-away camp to see the dinosaur on the front lawn of the church.

Pastor Foster referred to Zoya as her “secret weapon” in this paleontological procurement; this year’s raptor is the biggest yet.

When Pastor Foster announced at a meeting on Monday morning that this week was “Dino Days,” a secular woman who she said would never step foot in a church, made a point of complimenting Pastor Foster on her dino-decision, and said: “It’s such a nice counter-weight to the hateful churches and all their hatefulness.”

 

 

Helicopter Noise at an Unbearable All-Time High, According to Sag Harbor CAC

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By Mara Certic

Helicopter noise dominated the discussion at the Sag Harbor Citizens Advisory Committee meeting last week.

Southampton Town Councilwomen Bridget Fleming and Christine Scalera attracted a small crowd of non-members to the CAC’s monthly meeting on Friday, July 18, in the Pierson High School Library.

Susan Baran, a member of the CAC, announced as she briskly walked into the meeting: “This is the worst day ever.” The helicopter noise over by Long Pond had started at 6 a.m. that morning and hadn’t stopped all day, she said. Those in the room agreed with Ms. Barren that it was “the worst it had ever been.”

Rosemary Caruso added that the “all-white helicopters are the worst,” and that she and her husband see them all the time from their North Haven home.

Bob Malafronte and Barry Holden explained the current situation with helicopter routes and answered questions. Both men are members of the CAC and are the only two Southampton representatives on East Hampton Town’s helicopter noise abatement committee. Mr. Malafronte explained that East Hampton has two airport advisory committees. One of the committees is made up of helicopter and airplane proponents, he said, and is “misleading at best.” The other committee that both Mr. Malafronte and Mr. Holden sit on and which is composed of those concerned with noise issues speaks “nothing but facts and the truth,” he said.

The current problem is exacerbated by the total lack of restrictions at the airport, Mr. Malafronte said. Pilots do not follow the designated routes, he said, adding that 83 percent of the helicopters that flew in and out of East Hampton Airport over July Fourth weekend did not comply with the altitude restrictions.

The two men said that they are in the minority on the committee. “We had to force our way on,” said Mr. Malafronte. He even suggested that airport manager Jim Brundige was “targeting” Southampton Town residents. “This man Brundige has to go,” he said.

Councilwoman Scalera interjected to tell the members of the CAC that they were “very, very, very well represented” by their two Southampton reps. “Without you behind us,” Mr. Malafronte said to her, “we’d be nowhere.”

Mr. Holden said that the new East Hampton Town Board does actually seem to want to solve the problem caused by helicopter noise, unlike the previous administration. He mentioned that East Hampton Town Board member Kathee Burke-Gonzalez sits on both airport advisory committees, and Councilwoman Scalera sits on the noise abatement committee, too.

Recently, the men said, the committees have been working on letter-writing campaigns. They emphasized the importance of documenting complaints about helicopter and aircraft noise, by calling the complaint hotline or writing letters to the editor in local papers.

Their new focus, however, “is to go after the FAA not just to ask for changes but to start demanding answers.” Mr. Malafronte said. “We’re going to focus on Huerta, the man has to produce answers.”

Michael Huerta is the administrator of the FAA, who Mr. Malafronte says “has been hiding.” Mr. Malafronte’s new tactic, he said, is to go after Mr. Huerta “more aggressively.”

A meeting with Congressman Tim Bishop scheduled to take place on August 12 is the next big step, he said. The committee members hope to have at least a representative from the FAA, if not Mr. Huerta himself, present to answer questions.

The meeting will take place at the Bridgehampton Nutrition Center  at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 12.

To register an airport noise complaint call 1-800-376-4817 or visit planenoise.com/khto/

Issues of dumping on Town Line Road continue to trouble members of the Sag Harbor CAC. Several members discussed the problems, mentioning that tires and have piled up and that some people have even gone as far as to dump their mattresses there. “They go out of their way to dump there,” said CAC member Steve Schuman.

“What’s the solution, besides setting up snipers in the woods?” asked CAC member Judah Mahay. He suggested that the CAC look into the feasibility of setting up security cameras, or even looking into getting police to do surveillance at the site once a month.

“If you report it to the public, this could be enough to mitigate it,” he said.

 

Taking It to the Streets

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Members of Save Bridgehampton Main Street, an organization that was founded in large measure to fight the possibility of a CVS Pharmacy moving to the hamlet will gather again at 10 .m. on Saturday, July 19, to protest the possible development.

As they did at their first demonstration, on Thursday, July 10, protesters will gather in front of a vacant lot at the intersection of Montauk Highway and the Bridgehampton Turnpike.

The property, the site of the former Bridgehampton Beverage store, is owned by BNB Ventures, which has agreed to a lease with CVS for a 9,000-square-foot building it plans to erect at the site. The development would require a special exception permit from the Southampton Town Planning Board because current zoning limits individual uses to no larger than 4,500 square feet. An application has not yet been filed.

Senator LaValle and Assemblyman Thiele Address Concerns in Noyac

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President of the Noyac Civic Council Elena Loreta, left, and New York State Senator Ken LaValle in a meeting on Tuesday, July 8. Photo by Mara Certic

By Mara Certic

New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle and Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. were special guests at the monthly meeting of the Noyac Civic Council on Tuesday, July 8, where they spoke to their East End constituents about local concerns.

“I have a slogan,” began the senator, who arrived wearing his trademark baseball cap. “First district first,” he said. “If you look at the legislation that Fred and I have introduced, easily 50 percent of it deals with local issues and local problems.”

Both the senator and the assemblyman said they were pleased to see so many other elected officials at the Old Noyac Schoolhouse that night; Southampton Town Board members Bridget Fleming, Christine Scalera and Brad Bender were present, as well as newly elected North Haven Village Trustee Thomas J. Schiavoni.

“We spend a lot of time talking to people and listening to people,” the senator said as he mentioned one of his mother’s favorite sayings: God gave you two ears and one mouth and he did that for a reason: so listen!”

Senator LaValle and Assemblyman Thiele answered questions about topics ranging from gas prices to speed cameras, but most of the meeting was spent discussing taxes, education and water quality.

“One of the things I felt is that taxes are too high, property taxes in particular,” said Senator LaValle. “So we passed a multi-year plan,” he said in reference to the state-mandated two-percent tax levy cap that went into effect three years ago.

“You’re all familiar with the property tax cap and quite frankly it’s not perfect,” Assemblyman Thiele said. “But I think it’s worked very well.”

The tax cap was coupled with a tax freeze for the next two years, he explained, and residents of Sag Harbor will receive a tax rebate check this year. In future years, he explained, a tax credit will be given to those who live in a school district that does not pierce the tax cap.

Next year not only will the town, the school district and the county all have to meet the cap, but they will also have to submit a government efficiency plan to reduce the tax levy by 1 percent over the following two years. These plans will have to be approved by the state, the assemblyman said.

“Southampton and Tuckahoe are exploring the idea of consolidation,” he said of the neighboring school districts. “That might qualify for a government efficiency plan.”

“All of us agree that our schools should seek to have higher standards, we have to compete in a global economy now,” he said. That being said, Mr. Thiele quoted a colleague of his in the Assembly who said that “the Titanic had a better roll-out than Common Core.”

Mr. Thiele went on to say that he believed that the implementation of the Common Core this year was “a failure.”

“It was implemented from an ivory tower in a top-down fashion that didn’t take into account parents or teachers,” he said, adding that it should have been put in place “from the ground up.”

“The last thing that both Fred and I were very, very busy with,” Mr. LaValle said, “is the protection of our groundwater and surface water.”

The two men have spent the past year working on legislation called the “Long Island Water Quality Control Act.”

“In spite of all our best efforts we’re still seeing a decline in water quality,” said the assemblyman, who is in part responsible for the creation of the Peconic Estuary Program.

Previous legislation, he said, had focused on regulations for “future land use” when town land was split evenly in three: vacant, occupied and protected.

Today, he said, less than 10 percent of the land in Southampton and East Hampton is unspoken for. “If we’re going to change the issue, we need to change how we treat existing land uses. That’s how we’re going to make a difference and that’s what this legislation seeks to do.”

The two men lauded Southampton Town for the leadership role it has taken regarding research into new technology and alternative septic systems. The two state officials had a meeting organized for the following day at Stony Brook University about creating such new technology.

“We all want to see clean drinking water, but if you tell people they’re going to have to pay $25,000 to $30,000, people can’t afford that expenditure. The technology has to be evolved,” Mr. Thiele said. “Clean water is not just an issue on Long Island, it’s an issue globally.” He said he hopes that Suffolk County can become an incubator for water-quality technology, which would also create high-paying jobs, he said.

Mr. Thiele heard from the DEC, he said, that Governor Cuomo plans to release his own report on water quality in the next two to three weeks. “When he wants to do something, he’s going to take center stage. Nobody preempts the governor.”

Mr. Thiele encouraged Noyackers to write to the DEC about wells that monitor water quality near sand mines, such as Sand Land off Millstone Road in Noyac. In light of a recent ruling that instilled home-rule powers in upstate New York over hydrofracking, Mr. Thiele suggested that local officials might have an existing authority to mandate the monitoring by local law.

The Noyac Civic Council meets next on Tuesday, August 12, at the Bridgehampton Nutrition Center when Congressman Tim Bishop will attend to answer questions about the Federal Aviation Administration. Elena Loreto, president of the council, reminded residents to report disruptive aircraft noise and to send letters to the FAA in the next week to ensure that helicopters continue to follow the North Shore over-the-water route. Senator LaValle and Assemblyman Thiele said that they, too, would contact the FAA.

“We wrote to them before and we’ll be happy to do it again,” said Mr. Thiele. “We have supported this for quite a while.”

 

 

Suffolk County to Spray for Mosquitos in Southampton and East Hampton

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Salt marshes throughout Suffolk County will be sprayed with pesticides by helicopter to control mosquito larvae on Tuesday, July 8.

The Suffolk County Department of Public Works’ Division of Vector Control plan to use large droplet, low altitude application of BTI and Methoprene between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. tomorrow. A press release from the Suffolk County Department of Health named the marshes that will be sprayed tomorrow. In Southampton Town: Stokes Poges, Jagger Lane, Moneybogue Bay, Westhampton Dunes, Meadow Lane, Iron Point and North Sea.

In East Hampton Town Napeague, Beach Hampton and Accabonac Harbor will all be sprayed with larvicides.

The Suffolk County Department of Health wrote that no precautions were recommended for this spray, as the helicopters will be flying low and avoiding inhabited areas: “Human exposure from this operation is unlikely and the products involved have no significant human toxicity,” according to the release.

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman introduced a bill last year that would restrict the use of Methoprene, a larvicide that has been linked to killing lobsters. Mr. Schneiderman continues to seek support for this bill; similar laws have been passed in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Sag Harbor CAC Hosts Sustainability Co-Chairman

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By Stephen J. Kotz

Members of the Sag Harbor Citizens Advisory Committee on Friday were briefed on everything from the Sandy Hollow affordable housing complex to prospects for a townwide ban on plastic shopping bags.

Dieter von Lehsten, the co-chairman of the Southampton Town Sustainability Committee, told the small gathering that opposition to the 28-unit Sandy Hollow affordable housing complex, was “more emotional than factual.”

The Southampton Town Board on Thursday, June 12, approved a Planned Development District allowing the apartments to be built after months of contentious hearings that saw widespread opposition to the development from neighbors.

Mr. von Lehsten said the sustainabilty committee supported the project but added that housing it would provide was a small drop in the bucket considering  the vast shortage of affordable housing in Southampton.

The town board’s unanimous decision in support “was not a political decision, but an essential one,” he said.

“You can never ever have a project where everyone is happy,” said Mr. von Lehsten. “The town council, I can say without reservation, put a lot of work into making sure everything was covered.”

CAC members said they were interested in learning about the Sandy Hollow project because of the need for affordable housing Sag Harbor.

“This is something that could be placed in Sag Harbor,” said John Lindner, the CAC’s co-chairman. “We have $2 million from Bulova. If we had a direction for that, we could say here is a builder, here’s something that worked. We can do the same thing.”

Committee members also queried Mr. von Lehsten on the status of Sand Land, a sand mine and mulching operation on Millstone Road in Noyac, which has come into the crosshairs of the Noyac Civic Council because of concerns that its operations could be polluting the groundwater.

Mr. von Lehsten said a court decision ordering the company to curtail much of its operations had been overturned and it is now operating legally. He said at this point, it is up to the state Department of Environmental Conservation to make sure that the operation does not violate the terms of its permits.

Mr. von Lehsten also explained that the sustainability committee is working on a climate action plan for the town that would recognize the threat of global warming and offer ideas for combating it and working on ways to lessen groundwater pollution from septic systems.

He praised East Hampton Town’s recently enacted goal to provide 100 percent of the community’s electricity need with renewable sources by 2020, even if he did think it ambitious.
“If they could get 50 percent by 2020, it would be a fantastic success,” he said.

Mr. von Lehsten also said the sustainability committee was working on getting the town to ban the use of plastic shopping bags, as East Hampton and Southampton villages have already done.

An estimated 23 million plastic bags are used in town each year, he said, with only a fraction being recycled. The committee agreed it would throw its support behind a plastic bag ban. “It’s a foregone conclusion,” Mr. von Lehsten said. “Why can’t we be on the forefront and not behind?”

 

Southampton Town Trustees State Their Case at Public Forum

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The Southampton Town Trustees at a public forum at Hampton Bays High School on Tuesday.

By Stephen J. Kotz

The Southampton Town Trustees, who are sometimes confused with either the town board or any number of village boards, held a well-attended forum at Hampton Bays High School on Tuesday night to explain their role as the longest standing elective body in town government and outline some of the critical challenges facing them.

First and foremost among those challenges are a series of lawsuits that have been filed by property owners seeking to challenge the Trustees’ authority to regulate construction of things like revetments and retaining walls along the shoreline, maintain regulatory control over public beaches, protect the health of bays and streams, and even control their own purse strings.

As if to drive the point home that the Trustees are under siege, President Eric Shultz, who presided over the meeting, pointed out that a court reporter, seated at the front of the auditorium, was transcribing the event for plaintiffs in one of those suits.

The suits include one filed by residents of West Hampton Dunes over whether sand that has built up on the beach belongs to the homeowners or the town; a related suit by the homeowners that is seeking to take away the Trustees’ rights to control their own finances; a suit by the Trustees challenging the state Department of Environmental Conservation over revetments in Southampton Village; a suit over a Quogue resident’s placement of geotubes in front of their home without a permit; and a suit brought by Brookhaven Town baymen over fishing rights in town waters.

“Every suit is completely paid for out of Trustee money,” said Mr. Shultz. “The sale of sand out of Mecox Bay has allowed us to pursue them.”

Tuesday’s meeting was also attended by members of the town board, who sat in the front, but did not participate until pressed to do so by Bill Stubelek of Hampton Bays, who questioned whether town board members supported the Trustees in their mission.

After both Councilman Brad Bender and Councilwoman Brigid Fleming made brief comments, Supervisor Anna Throne Holst closed the meeting by reassuring the public the town board was in fact in Trustees’ corner.

“There is a recognition of a staggering amount of issues facing us with a staggering dollar amount attached to them,” said Ms. Throne-Holst. “We support the Trustees. We support the important work that needs to happen. We support the fact that one of the most important things we need to do is work together at every level of government.”

In an interview on Wednesday morning, Mr. Shultz said he was pleased by the show of support from the town board, but he added, “We’ll see it in deeds” and said the Trustees especially need the board’s support in getting the State Legislature to reaffirm their status.

Mr. Shultz said the Trustees typically send their members out in the community discuss their work with various civic groups but had decided the time was ripe to hold a more formal forum.

“The Trustees control the economic engine of this town,” he said of their authority to protect the public easement over the beaches. “There are more and more people out here who don’t know who the Trustees are. We want to educate them so when we need them to come out and support us they are up to speed.”

The crowd was largely sympathetic. “You guys are understaffed and terribly, terribly, terribly underfunded,” said Tom White, an 11th generation Southampton resident. He offered a litany of problems affecting the health of the groundwater and the bays, from leaching septic systems, to town highway department catch basins that drain harmful road runoff back into the aquifer. He added that a sharp increase in irrigation was further affecting the quality of the groundwater.

“You are doing a great job,” he concluded. “Ask us for our help and we’ll try to get you more money.”

George Lynch of Quiogue said the Trustees were in a “situation akin to war” and called for residents who were concerned about everything from beach access to preventing pollution need “to give not just our cooperation but the kind of loyalty you’d give in a war situation.”

He urged the Trustees to hold more such forums to promote their causes. “If you need the help of citizens, I believe it will be there,” he said.

Another speaker, Scott Lewis, said the town should hire a “water superintendent,” whose duties, he suggested, would be to keep the waters clean, similar to how the highway superintendent is responsible for keeping the roads clear in the winter.

On Wednesday, Mr. Shultz who had spent his morning at a meeting to discuss dredging projects with county officials and planned to spend his evening at a meeting on duck hunting regulations, said the Trustees were a decidedly grassroots form of government. “We have a lot of responsibility,” he said, “and we don’t have any staff. We do it all ourselves.”

Early in Tuesday’s forum, Mr. Schultz reviewed some of the major legal decisions that have affected the Trustees’ authority. An 1818 decision gave the proprietors, who were literally the original owners of the town, authority over common lands, and the Trustees authority over the waters. The proprietors were eventually able to claim the beaches as common land, but when they disbanded in 890 after selling off all of their assets, court ruled that the Trustees still controlled an easement over thee beaches below the high water mark, a situation that largely remains in place today.

“We’re not gunslingers. We are going after cases that are really important,” Mr. Shultz said of the Trustees’ legal battles. “But were under increased pressure and with these lawsuits, we feel we haven’t been getting coverage and people don’t know the importance of what’s at stake with their beach rights.”

Sagg Bridge Stalemate Continues

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Sagg Bridge

 

By Stephen J. Kotz

The Village of Sagaponack and Southampton Town remain at a stalemate over Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor’s plan to forge ahead with a controversial plan to replace the Sagg Bridge.

The village has objected to a plan to install modified guardrails offered by Mr. Gregor, and he says he has no intention of allowing the village to annex the bridge, which village officials have raised as a possible solution.

The dispute over the tiny span, from which Bridgehampton derives its name, erupted in December when Mr. Gregor unveiled plans for a new bridge that included larger guardrails that meet the state highway safety code, but which Sagaponack residents say would cut off the view of the pond.

As an alternative, in February, the village offered to reimburse the town $500,000 for the federal grant money Mr. Gregor was planning to use for the project and help pay for future upkeep if the highway superintendent would cancel plans for installing the new guardrails.

But Mr. Gregor has refused. “I’m simply trying to make the bridge safe right now,” Mr. Gregor said on Tuesday.

As a compromise, Mr. Gregor said he offered to use a more historic-looking type of guardrail that he saw on numerous bridges on the Pacific Coast Highway during a recent vacation in California. The new railings would add about $22,000 to the coat of the project, but village officials have rejected his suggestion, he said.

Sagaponack Mayor Donald Louchheim said on Wednesday the village was stumped by the town’s refusal to accept its offer to pay for the bridge work or annex the structure.

“We thought we were giving the town a gift,” he said of the offer to pay for the work. That would free the town to use the grant money on another deserving road project, he added.

He suggested the board was unwilling to move forward with the village’s offer because it did not want to ruffle Mr. Gregor’s feathers.

On Tuesday, Mr. Gregor said he was growing tired of the delays. The highway superintendent said he had informed Sagaponack officials that was going to replace the bridge shortly after he took office in 2010 and delivered a complete set of plans for the new span last summer.

“I didn’t hear boo from them until I had my public information session late last year,” he said.

Mr. Gregor said he was hoping to go out to bid on the project this month, but he cannot do so until the town board votes on a resolution to accept the $500,000 construction grant that was procured by U.S. Representative Tim Bishop but is administered by the state Department of Transportation.

Mr. Gregor added that he had the authority to stop the village from annexing the bridge, which lies partly in the village and partly in town.

“According to the New York State Department of Transportation I own and am responsible to maintain the bridge and approaches to it,” Mr. Gregor said, referring to the town Highway Department.

But Mr. Louchheim rejected that notion. “Mr. Gregor has no authority over it,” he said. “The town owns the bridge. The town board can do it if it wants to do it.”

Even if the village were able to gain control of the bridge, Mr. Gregor said it was unlikely they would be able to get what they wanted.

“They must think they are going to be able to go to the DOT and have them tell them they can put in something that is less than standard,” he said.

Not true, again, said Mr. Louchheim who insisted the state could not force the village to bring the bridge up to code if it was not paying for the work.

East Hampton Plans Airport Noise Study

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By Stephen J. Kotz

East Hampton Town Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez announced on Tuesday that the town would undertake a noise study this summer with an eye toward developing use restrictions at East Hampton Airport.

Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said the town would take a somewhat novel approach that would seek to use both “noise averaging” data, which is typically required by the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as try to determine whether aircraft operations violate town law, which limits noise to 65 decibels during the daytime and 50 at night.

The town wants to have a consultant hired by early June, Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said.

The dual-pronged approach represents a compromise between two separate noise subcommittees the town board established earlier this year to advise it on airport issues. One of those subcommittees is made up exclusively of members of the aviation community and the other is made up of people who want the town to reduce noise coming from the airport.

Noise subcommittee members did not want the traditional noise averaging study done, which was recommended by DY Consultants, the town’s aviation engineering consultants, because it would take too long, cost too much, and not provide completely accurate information, Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said.

The town has a number of software programs that track not only the number of flights but the type of aircraft, whether it be a Sikorsky helicopter, a Gulfstream corporate jet or a Cessna single-engine plane, Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said. In addition, Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said, whoever conducts the study will be able to obtain detailed operating decibel information from aircraft manufacturers to help them generate an accurate computer modeling to map noise as an aircraft leaves or approaches the airport.

Ms. Burke-Gonzalez cautioned that the study would be preliminary in nature but stressed that it could be used to help determine what types of restrictions the town could consider imposing once some F.A.A. grant restrictions expire at the end of the year.

Separately, Southampton Town Councilwoman Christine Scalera has been appointed to the noise subcommittee. Ms. Scalera announced her appointment at Tuesday night’s Noyac Civic Council meeting just as a helicopter passed overhead, drowning out her words.