Town of Hempstead, North Hempstead threatens FAA lawsuit over noise and pollution concerns


Standing in front of a residential Floral Park home on July 3 and alongside governmental leaders from across Nassau County, Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin announced a joint petition against the Federal Aviation Administration on behalf of the residents living near airports who are contending with low-flying planes, air traffic noise, air pollution and other aeronautical disturbances.

With both John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport abutting residential neighborhoods, the constant air traffic has been a longstanding headache for local homeowners.

The Town of Hempstead, North Hempstead and local elected officials from Nassau County have filed a petition urging the FAA to study and explore alternative air routes.

If the FAA does not respond to the petition within 90 days, an official lawsuit will be filed against the government agency. Led by Clavin and North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jen DeSena, officials expressed their stance against the FAA’s long-standing.

“Every 90 seconds, we get the pleasure of having planes flying anywhere from 3,000 to 2,000 feet over our heads,” Clavin said. “The FAA has taken the towns of North Hempstead and Hempstead for granted. Over a million residents are suffering the burden of constant flights coming over the area.”

The problem, according to Clavin and DeSena, is not just about noise but also significant health risks. Clavin detailed how the frequent low-flying planes contribute to increased levels of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and sulfur dioxide in the air, exacerbating health issues for the community.

Clavin cited studies showing a 50 percent increase in flights since 2017 and pointed out that the FAA has not conducted the necessary environmental reviews mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act.
County officials have retained legal counsel to draft a petition to the FAA, demanding compliance with existing regulations and a thorough environmental review. Attorney Nick Rigano of Rigano LLC is spearheading the legal effort.

“The FAA is directing low-flying jets over our towns because that’s what’s easiest for them to do,” Rigano said. “But the law requires consideration of impacts to all citizens. If the FAA does not respond within 90 days, we will commence litigation.”

In a statement regarding the news conference, the FAA said it would not comment on potential litigation but addressed local officials' concerns.

"The FAA is committed to meaningful dialogue with communities," the statement read. "The agency continuously works to help reduce the number of people exposed to aviation noise in communities around airports. Addressing this concern requires collaboration among the FAA, air carriers, airports, aircraft manufacturers, research universities, local communities and elected officials. If a community is concerned about aircraft noise, the best course of action is to contact their local aviation community roundtable or airport operator. The FAA can then work with airport operators to determine if the aircraft noise can be mitigated through changes in air traffic procedures."

The news conference was attended by several government officials from the federal state and local levels, who support the litigation.

Congressman Anthony D'Esposito highlighted his legislative efforts to address the issue, including co-sponsoring bills aimed at mitigating air traffic noise and pollution.

“The FAA has been ignoring community concerns for far too long,” D'Esposito said. “We are working on legislative solutions, but the FAA has been non-responsive on the federal level as well. We need change, and we need it now.

Floral Park resident Don Monroe, whose home is where the news conference took place, noted how the air traffic noise impacts his life.

“Sometimes I have to stop mid-conversation because the planes are so loud,” Monroe said.

While the issue is longstanding, the official's message is clear, the time for patience has passed. With over 315,000 noise complaints recorded this year alone, residents and officials are demanding immediate action.

The proposed petition seeks to hold the FAA accountable to its legal obligations and ensure that the health and well-being of Hempstead and North Hempstead residents are prioritized.

“People expect this when they live near an airport, but not to this extent,” Clavin said. “The FAA must follow the rules and regulations. Enough is enough.”