Juneau group turns in signatures on flightseeing noise initiative

Posted: Friday, June 16, 2000

JUNEAU (AP) -- A group that wants to limit flightseeing noise turned in nearly 500 more signatures than necessary to put an aircraft noise initiative on the October ballot.

The Peace and Quiet Coalition submitted 2,643 Juneau voters' signatures endorsing its noise initiative to the city clerk Friday morning. To be certified, the petition must bear 2,165 valid signatures.

With certification, the measure would next be submitted to the Juneau assembly for consideration as an ordinance. If the assembly refuses to act on the measure, it will appear on the October ballot.

''We've been characterized as the gang of five,'' said coalition spokesman Ray Preston. ''I guess this means we're a gang of 2,643.''

The measure would ban commercial flightseeing tours before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. from May through September and ban them on Saturdays.

The measure also would allow new heliports only if developers showed they would not add to existing noise levels.

In addition, the assembly would be barred from expanding the number of areas where heliports could be built, and from spending money to study new heliports, including the noise they might cause. The initiative also requires that the city ask the U.S. Forest Service to cut back on the helicopter landings it permits on the Juneau Icefield.

Preston said he was not worried about warnings from Juneau City Attorney John Corso that passage of the initiative could affect federal grants.

Corso wrote Preston recently that Federal Aviation Administration grants to the city hang on the condition that the airport stay open without discrimination against any class of aircraft or air service.

''It is, of course, the whole point of the tourist flight initiative to discriminate against one kind of flight activity,'' Corso wrote.

''I would say that that's silly,'' Preston said. ''We're talking about enforcing reasonable rules. That's not discrimination.''

The board of directors of the Juneau Chamber of Commerce voted unanimously to oppose the initiative and warns of far-reaching adverse consequences if its approve. The chamber board said it would constitute discrimination against the aviation industry and undermine year-round air service.

The chamber's tourism committee was scheduled to meet Friday to discuss increasing voter registration with a view to defeating the initiative.

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