Juneau resident seeks flightseeing noise relief via initiative

Posted: Tuesday, May 02, 2000

JUNEAU (AP) -- A Juneau resident is turning to the citizen initiative process as a means of bypassing the Juneau Assembly and limiting flightseeing.

Ray Preston submitted an initiative to the city clerk Monday that would severely limit Juneau flightseeing operations and additional heliports.

The measure would ban flightseeing before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. from May through September. The initiative also would ground flightseeing on Saturdays and reduce the number of landings allowed on the Juneau Ice Field.

Preston told the Juneau Empire that the assembly and city hall officials have a ''company-town mentality.'' Preston regularly attends city meetings dealing with flightseeing and objects to what he calls incessant aircraft noise over his home and elsewhere.

Assemblyman Tom Garrett said initiative backers believe government officials are not doing their jobs. But the city's policy and planning committee, which he chairs, has taken a lot of time to address the issue, Garrett said.

''They clearly feel we're being ineffective, since we don't do what they want,'' Garrett said.

Garrett said Preston's initiative probably will make it to the ballot.

Bob Engelbrecht, President of NorthStar Trekking, a helicopter flightseeing operation, said the city is doing a good job gathering information on flightseeing impacts.

''It's frustrating that the people (who are fielding initiatives) are opting out of the process,'' Engelbrecht said.

Dennis Harris, another critic of the city's handling of tourism impacts, said other initiatives are coming.

''They deal with a Saturday port closing, reclassifying (city) land for disposal, and one that would result in better neighborhood representation in elections,'' Harris said.

Bob Jacobsen, president of air taxi Wings of Alaska, said most Juneau residents do not support the limits.

''We have surveyed the community over the years,'' Jacobsen said, ''and it's our sense that a small percentage of the population is driving this issue.''

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