News & Opinion | May 1, 2019 3:16 pm

Billy Joel’s Helicopter Is Annoying His Neighbors

Some members of a wealthy Long Island community want to ban personal helipads

Billy Joel in his pre-private helicopter days (Getty/Wally McNamee)
Billy Joel in his pre-private helicopter days (Getty/Wally McNamee)
Corbis via Getty Images

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As Long Island’s one-percenters know, you can cut your commute time in half by trading road and rail for helicopter. You can also annoy the hell out of your neighbors.

That’s why helipads have become a big topic of debate on Centre Island, a small, affluent community on Long Island’s North Shore. Four private helipads sit among the island’s 185 households, and have sparked significant debate among residents, theWall Street Journal reported.

The island’s helicopter commuters notably include Billy Joel, who’s been known to take a quick chopper flight from his waterfront estate to concerts at Madison Square Garden. According to the WSJ, the chopper commute to midtown Manhattan can take less than 15 minutes, as opposed to driving, which can take up to two hours.

The community’s chopper opponents, however, argue that noisy helicopters are a major disturbance, disrupting the area’s natural beauty and wildlife, cutting property values, and posing dangers to the public.

Mayor Lawrence Schmidlapp told the WSJ that complaints about helicopter takeoffs and landings are increasingly common amongst community residents. Since 2017, neighbors of helipads have reportedly filed approximately 15 formal noise complaints.

Last month, Schmidlapp proposed a new law in response to the community’s grievances. If approved, the law would limit each helipad to 15 landings per month and ban new helipads.

Naturally, the proposal wasn’t well received by the island’s more frequent helipad users. Clive and Reeta Holmes, co-founders of an investment management firm, hired a lawyer to protect their chopper commutes. According to the couples’ attorney, the restrictions imposed by the new proposal would amount to an “unconstitutional taking of their property rights without due process,” reported the WSJ.

Joel, for his part, will reportedly “support reasonable regulations,” but would ultimately like to keep his helipad, according to his attorney.

The proposed law will go to vote after a public hearing scheduled for May 8.