UPDATED June 17
Haines residents now have until June 26th at 5 p.m. to weigh in on a recently completed helicopter noise study.
The original comment period ended this June 19, one week after the draft study was released. Borough manager Dave Sosa said in an email Wednesday that since the appendixes to the study were released after the rest of the study, he would extend the time residents have to comment on it.
The study was proposed as part of a settlement in a court case against the borough. Twenty-six Mile resident Jessica Plachta appealed an assembly decision to grant a permit to a local heliski company for a private heliport off Chilkat Lake Road. Several residents in that area opposed the permit, citing noise concerns.
The noise study was supposed to bring an end to the court case, but a settlement between the borough and Plachta fell through. The borough, however, continued with the study. It cost about $52,000.
The court case continues, although the borough has filed a motion to have it dismissed.
The noise study was done by Bridgenet International, an aviation and noise consulting company. Noise levels during nine helicopter takeoffs and landings were measured during one week in March. The borough selected four locations where consultants set up measuring equipment – including at the helipad site and at a nearby home.
Study authors say they used measurements accepted by the Federal Aviation Association or FAA in community and airport noise assessments. The results show that, except for at the helipad site, the other three sites registered noise levels average for wooded residential areas by FAA standards.
But Platcha and her partner, Nicholas Szatkowski have concerns with the study. First, they say the borough should allow more than a week for comments. Second, they say the study doesn’t account for usual quietness of the neighborhood. Szatkowski says that while study authors write the helicopter noise didn’t exceed any exceptional levels, they failed to consider that the base noise of the area is already very low.
However, the study points out that the FAA standards are all they had to go on because there aren’t any local noise regulations to compare the measurements to.
Comments to the study are due to the borough clerk by 5 p.m. Friday, June 26.