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Maui helicopter, air operations tied to noise, livestock issues in draft resolutions

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Public comment is being sought on an Air Tour Management Plan for Haleakalā National Park. PC: Haleakalā National Park February 2022 newsletter

Citing noise complaints and livestock disruptions, two Maui County Council draft resolutions are asking the federal government to better manage aircraft operations in Maui County. 

The proposed resolutions, each aimed at the Federal Aviation Administration, will be taken up during the council’s Infrastructure and Transportation Committee on March 22. 

Meanwhile, council members said a plan to manage air tours above Haleakalā National Park is also on their radar.  

“Definitely they will hear from us,” Council Member Yuki Lei Sugimura, whose residency seat covers Upcountry, told Maui Now. “No helicopters to spoil our environment.” 

The National Park Service and the FAA are seeking public comment on three options for Haleakalā National Park: Allowing the existing number of flights to continue; prohibiting tours; or set one flight plan and reduce the number of tours.  Currently, there are about 5,000 flights over Haleakalā National Park annually, a news release said.

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Deadline to submit comment is April 1. 

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“It’s super perfect timing” to discuss the Haleakalā survey, according to Council Vice Chairwoman Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, whose council draft resolution is being discussed soon.  

Introduced by Rawlins-Fernandez, Resolution 22-7 urges the FAA to more effectively regulate helicopter operations in Maui County.  

She said tours have negatively impacted Molokaʻi, and other places throughout the county, which led to the proposal.  

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Residents have reported low-flying helicopters over agricultural land, which scares herds. Also, excess aircraft noise has sparked increased stress and disrupted sleep for some people, the resolution said.

Separately, Resolution 22-74, introduced by Sugimura, chairwoman of council’s Infrastructure and Transportation Committee, asks the state congressional delegation to urge the FAA to create a community roundtable on aircraft noise, which would include the state Department of Transportation and the County of Maui mayor.  

In recent years, the council has heard from residents about the increase in aircraft noise above their properties.  

“These residents have raised concerns regarding property values, the ability to enjoy their properties and health and environmental impacts,” the resolution said. 

If approved, the resolution would ask Hawaiʻi’s congressional delegation to have the FAA hear the citizens’ concerns and work to address the noise complaints.

Resolutions, which usually state a position or policy of a municipality, do not have the force of law. 

Kehaulani Cerizo
Kehaulani Cerizo was born and raised on Maui and worked for nearly 15 years as a news reporter, copy editor and features editor at daily newspapers. She earned awards at The Maui News in Wailuku and at Today’s Local News in San Diego.
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