The Record, Thursday, January 25, 2001, Local News Section
Legislators: Take airport case to Bush
By LISA GOODNIGHT
TETERBORO -- Convinced that allowing Boeing business jets to land at Teterboro Airport will diminish the quality of life for thousands of people, leading legislators Wednesday urged residents to write to President Bush and the Federal Aviation Administration to voice their opposition.
"We want our new president to hear from the people," declared Rep. Steve Rothman, D-Fair Lawn, standing with nearly two dozen local, county, and state officials. "We do not want the Boeing business jet at Teterboro, and we will do everything in our power to stop it from coming here."
Rothman said the jet, a variation of the 737, represents a serious safety hazard because the airport is not designed or equipped to handle aircraft weighing more than 100,000 pounds. Rothman said the situation should be brought to the attention of the new president and his staff.
"The president's philosophies and priorities have a great impact on the administration's regulatory agencies," Rothman said.
Boeing officials disagree that their proposal presents a problem.
For two years, officials from Boeing and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates Teterboro and the three major metropolitan airports, have held meetings to discuss Teterboro's ban on planes weighing more than 100,000 pounds.
Boeing officials maintain that their business jets -- which can weigh up to 170,000 pounds -- can land safely and without extra noise. The Port Authority has not granted Boeing a waiver of the weight limit that has been in place since 1967. The two sides met again Wednesday.
"We are in the middle of the [waiver permit] process," said Steve Barlage, a regional sales director for Boeing Business Jets.
Now, the FAA will make a decision that could take several weeks to render based on a technical analysis of the runway, said an FAA spokesman.
Barlage said the weight-limit issue "is the No. 1 airport issue that we're having in the world."
He said the perception that a heavier plane is noisier or more dangerous is wrong.
"Some of the very, very small planes that operate out there generate most of your noise problem," he said. "It [the jets] has no impact to the airport. It's like another car on the road."
That's not how the politicians gathered Wednesday outside Teterboro Borough Hall see it.
"This is a quality of life issue. . . . The bigger it is, the worse for our residents," said County Executive William "Pat" Schuber.
Paul Griffo, Rutherford's representative to the Teterboro Aircraft Noise Abatement Advisors Committee (TANAAC), spoke about the Boeing jets and other Teterboro issues.
"We are concerned about the jet emissions that cover our homes with black residue and cover our swimming pools with an oily film," said Griffo. "The thought of 170,000 pounds of flying steel over our homes is unacceptable. . . . We're asking over and over again when is enough enough."
Griffo said that 5,000 planes per day fly over the 500,000 residents of southern Bergen County and that the low-flying jets interrupt conversations, interfere with children's learning, and disturb patients at Hackensack University Medical Center.
A Moonachie resident who asked not to be identified said in a telephone interview: "I wouldn't like to have big jets arriving. It's too much noise. Once I called up and complained, but I guess I'm used to it."
Not everyone is up in arms . . . at least for now.
"Right now, I have no complaints," said Lyndhurst resident Stanley Kaminski, a member of his town's taxpayers association. "I can see a plane right now. If it's going to be bigger, that could be a problem."
In recent weeks, politicans have been vocal in their frustration about the noise and pollution coming from Teterboro, one of the nation's busiest small airports.
Officials said they need to keep up the pressure.
"The moment we let our guard down, we lose," said South Hackensack Mayor Nick Brando. "We have to pursue the fight. . . . We can no longer stand the noise and air pollution."