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IBM Responds To Concerns About Helicopter Noise

YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y. – IBM’s helicopters will be no more noticeable than a dishwasher.

That’s what company officials told residents Monday night, in response to concerns about noise brought on its proposed helipad.

Presenting to the Yorktown Planning Board, engineer Don Snyder said noise studies showed any helicopter leaving and entering the Kitchawan Road property would be in the 70 decibel range.

“Certainly we’re not talking heavy noises that would hurt your ears or anything,” Snyder said.

Several residents, however, expressed skepticism at the studies during the public hearing. Elizabeth Becerra lives on Kitchawan Road and said current helicopter traffic sounds nothing like what IBM is proposing.

“What makes your helicopter different that anybody else’s helicopter?” Becerra said. “Because literally you feel the vibration in the house. It’s nothing like a dishwasher.”

Company pilot George Smiley said helicopters in the area now do not belong to IBM. He said IBM also uses the Fly Neighborly program, meaning the company’s helicopters fly slower and higher when entering residential areas.

“Not all helicopter pilots practice the Fly Neighborly program,” said Smiley, who estimates IBM would only use the property for one flight per month.

Bob DeAngelis, a manager of engineering and environmental services at IBM, offered Becerra a visit to the property to learn first-hand about the helipad site. He said IBM tried to pick a helipad location in the center of its site that would be as far away from its neighbors as possible.

“It’s really just a safe and stable place where we can land a helicopter or it can take off from,” DeAngelis said. “It’s not a place where we’re going to store, or re-fuel or do maintenance.”

The planning board closed the public hearing Monday night, but will leave a 10-day comment period open for people to submit further concerns and questions regarding this proposal. Planning Board member John Flynn said the proposal will return to the board at a future meeting.

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