Pilot, neighbors clash over proposed Rosendale helicopter law

Part-time Rosendale resident Daniel Preston exchanged heated words with some of his neighbors at a public hearing held by the Rosendale Town Board at its October 3 workshop meeting. The hearing was set to elicit community input on a proposed local law amending Chapter 75 of the Town Code to outlaw the launch or landing of “any airplane or helicopter” within the town, except for emergencies or by special permit. The new legal language would stipulate that “no property owner, occupant or tenant shall allow any aircraft to take off from or land on lands under his or her control, or allow for the embarkment or disembarkment of persons, or the delivery of products on or over lands under his or her control.”

Several residents of Burrs Crossing, a road that adjoins Preston’s property at 617 Route 213, petitioned the town to enact legislation that would prohibit his use of his land, or the bed of the Rondout Creek, as launch or landing sites for helicopters that he owns and operates. According to the complainants, Preston’s aircraft activity has been noisy and disruptive to the peaceful enjoyment of their own nearby homesites for several years. “I was mowing my lawn with music on my earphones,” recounted Denise Dehardt of one such incident. “When that helicopter flew over, I literally thought I was being shot at. When he’s flying that helicopter, it’s low.”

Preston responded angrily to Dehardt’s allegation, demanding that she produce the identification number on the helicopter that she had observed on that occasion. He admitted to the board that “I own helicopters and make them for my living,” but protested that he had “an eight-year track record of coming and going, and nobody said anything until recently.” He then accused one of the neighbors of deciding to try to outlaw helicopters out of frustration over having lost a battle to outlaw the keeping of chickens in Rosendale.

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Preston went on to “challenge the police to bring a decibel meter” to measure the noise level of his aircraft. “I will take off and land,” he said. “I guarantee that it will not violate any noise ordinance.” He argued that, according to Federal Aviation Administration policy, the proposed law itself would be unenforceable: “Small helicopter traffic — you cannot regulate it or have it upheld… It would be completely unlawful to even put the law on the books.”

Another petitioner to enact the law, Ron Schade, claimed that he and his wife Barbara had been “served with legal papers when we walked in” — papers alleging that they and another resident whose name they did not recognize had “made defamatory statements about Mr. Preston” and demanding that they immediately delete Facebook posts to that effect. “I’m not on Facebook,” Schade pointed out. “This is an attempt to intimidate us.”

The Town Board closed the verbal portion of the public hearing, but agreed to continue accepting written comments on the helicopter law from the public for an additional two weeks. Town supervisor Jeanne Walsh noted that no further action could be taken on passage of the law until they had received comments back from both the Rosendale and Ulster County Planning Boards.

There are 6 comments

  1. John Gillerman

    Daniel Preston regularly threatens people with lawyers. He said I would be arrested if I swam in the Rondout near his land because he owned the river. He told me he has spend $100,000 on lawyers to make sure he got ownership of the river. He doesn’t own the river. It is navigable so the state of NY owns it.

  2. Denise

    Try living next to him, since he moved here it’s been gun shots, shooting exploding targets that knock your teeth out. Never knowing where his bullets were flying. He claims to have only chickens however his roosters crow all hours of the night. It’s never ending, we live on the creek across from him. So all summer long he’s been back and forth over our home with these helicopters! This is not an airport 😡

  3. Arnold Palmer

    I remember hitting golf balls accross the creek. When you use a 9 iron the ball flies very high. I remember knocking the golf balls so high I thought I could almost reach aircraft.
    I hope all parties can come to terms.

  4. Sick of It

    Well…then you folks had better get real busy regulating and legistlating against the Accord Raceway!!!
    If we’re going to deny people’s “right” (right) to be loud and obnoxious and sh#t on the neighborhoods of
    Rosendale-Accord-Marbletown- Rochester with excessive noise – the Accord Raceway is the NUMBER ONE
    OFFENDER IN THIS AREA!!!

  5. Peter

    I live on Burrs Crossing Road, across the river from Mr Preston’s property and the sound of the helicopters is definitely disturbing. I would hate to live as close as some of my neighbors who live along the river and put up with the noise. Why can’t Mr Preston keep his helicopter at a nearby airfield like any airplane owner would do? There is no reason to subject the residents to the the disturbance created by the noise of the helicopters coming and going.

  6. Nancy

    The harassment has to stop against Mr. and Mrs. Preston. How much tax payer money is being spent on taking this family to court? He’s NOT breaking any laws. Yes, he has a helicopter, good for him. There are more private planes flying around constantly than his helicopter, which is heard maybe once a week.

    This seems like a personal attack on a family who too is trying to enjoy our peaceful, beautiful hamlet of Rosendale. I’m glad to have him on our tax roll. Enough is enough. Leave his chickens alone, water access alone, his helicopter alone…..leave them alone!!!!

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