Following the advice of its Airport Commission, the Leesburg Town Council has paused consideration of changes to the panel’s structure and responsibilities to allow a study committee to conduct a thorough review.
On Monday night, Councilman Neil Steinberg asked that a discussion item on the proposal to immediately add representatives of the airport’s fixed-base operators as non-voting members to the commission be removed from the agenda. Steinberg had received support two weeks prior to have that discussion at the council’s work session.
Steinberg was in attendance at a recent Airport Commission meeting where commissioners criticized his haste in having the discussion when days earlier the council had supported the creation of an ad hoc committee to conduct a broad study of the commission’s membership structure, mission, responsibilities and oversight. Mayor Kelly Burk had proposed a series of sweeping changes to the commission at the council’s first meeting in January that would have added FBO representatives to the commission, at the request of the FBOs, among other changes. Burk defended her proposed changes as moving the Leesburg Executive Airport to more of a business-focused entity. Commissioners pushed back on her proposal, and instead advocated for the creation of an ad hoc committee to report back to the council on any recommended changes.
On Monday night, Steinberg said he was comfortable to push discussion on the additional seats to allow the ad hoc committee to conduct its work. He was supported by all council members in removing the agenda item, save for Burk.
Ahead of the work session, the Airport Commission sent council members another memo, where, in addition to asking the council to postpone the discussion on the addition of FBO representatives, they noted some changes it has made to its meetings. Among them is a new FBO comments section on its monthly agenda, where FBO representatives would have an opportunity to share any concerns or feedback during meetings. The commission has also formed an airport business operators subcommittee, which will feature representatives from all 11 airport-based businesses, including the two FBOS and four flight schools. Commissioners will also consider the addition of a public comment section at the end of its agenda.
“We understand that some of the businesses feel their voice is not being heard. The commission has listened and believes that these items will address the concerns. In doing this we believe that this will take pressure off the ad hoc committee and will provide them time to do their work and make a permanent recommendation for changes and membership,” the memo read.