The city council approved creating a Project Advisory Committee to assist with Phase 2 of the Airport Master Plan update.

Economic Development Director Thomas Kittredge, who also serves as the Belfast Municipal Airport manager, asked councilors to approve the creation of the advisory committee Tuesday, May 20. The committee, which Kittredge envisioned would be comprised of eight to 12 members, would include representation from various stakeholders.

He said in addition to representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration and Maine Department of Transportation, the committee would include one city councilor, the city manager, the city planner or their designee, the economic development director, the chair of the airport advisory committee or their designee, two abutters or close neighbors of the airport, one representative from an aviation business located at the airport, one representative from a business in Belfast that uses the airport, and one pilot who is either an individual or a representative from a larger flight services company that uses the airport.

The Project Advisory Committee, as outlined by Kittredge, will serve a number of roles as the city works to update the master plan for the airport. Those roles include reviewing and commenting on draft study products; acting as a liaison to the agencies the membership represents, as well as to other constituencies; and expressing the interests of organizations and constituencies the membership represents.

In addition, the advisory committee will work with the city and the city's consultant, Airport Solutions Group, to explore existing and projected conditions, confer on potential development alternatives, and build consensus on recommended airport development plans.

The committee will also advise the city, the FAA and MDOT through two meetings and attend other scheduled public meetings associated with the project.

City Manager Joseph Slocum stressed the committee would only offer suggestions and it would not have the authority to make final decisions regarding the Phase 2 update.

"All they [Project Advisory Committee] do is make recommendations," Slocum said.

Slocum said officials are also working on clarifying the process for the work so that the public can be informed on how the project is proceeding and can then participate in the effort.

Councilor Eric Sanders said he was pleased to see there will be representation from neighbors on the advisory committee, but stated he would like to see as many neighbors and abutters on the committee as there are business representatives.

Councilors Mike Hurley and Mary Mortier agreed with the suggestion from Sanders, but Hurley offered a caveat that the city should be careful about "stacking" the committee with people who could be potentially opposed to the project.

Sanders said he hoped that concern would not be an issue and said boards with fewer people tend to be more effective.

"Big boards are unruly," he said. "The smaller the better."

Kittredge said he would adjust the membership of the board so that there would be representation from three neighbors or abutters.

Councilors approved the formation of the Project Advisory Committee. Kittredge said he will be the point of collection for applications from people interested in serving on the committee.