Wiscasset Municipal Airport

Subleasing hangar ban sputters in committee

Posted:  Friday, November 17, 2017 - 8:00am

A would-be ban on subleasing hangars may not fly with the panel drafting rules for Wiscasset Municipal Airport.

Airport Advisory Committee Chairman and hangar owner Steve Williams told fellow committee members Nov. 15, it’s a hot issue. The committee was reviewing a draft Williams said Frank Costa submitted while airport manager. Costa resigned late summer.

About 30 hangars are privately owned, Williams said. Owners lease the land they sit on and pay taxes and insurance, he said.

With the costs of keeping a hangar, member Ray Soule, also a hangar owner, said banning subleasing would be “like a double whammy.”

“It’s important for the town to not put this in, because it affects the value of these hangars,” Williams said. He saw no competitive basis for the change, since, he said, the town-owned hangars are fully leased, so hangar owners’ subleasing of theirs is not taking tenants from the town. He added later, airplanes in Wiscasset on subleases add to the airport’s fuel sales.

The committee makes recommendations to selectmen. When the board gets the proposed rules, it can accept, reject or alter them, Williams said.

The committee recently nixed a second document from Costa, a set of minimum standards Williams said were overly restricting. Neither document is required, but the federal government may be going to require airport rules, so the committee is continuing to work on them, members have said.

Among other changes members eyed for the draft, “town” would replace “airport manager” for some duties Costa outlined, including denying rule-breakers use of the airport and taking requests to temporarily alter leases. Members determined those duties should not be confined to one person.

The committee got halfway through the draft and planned to continue reviewing it at 5 p.m. Dec. 20 at the airport.

Interim airport manager Rick Tetrev is on vacation most of November, according to Oct. 18 minutes the committee approved. Public Works Director Doug Fowler will handle any “critical issues” such as an aircraft accident, the minutes state.