LAWRENCEVILLE -- Two things were very clear by the end of Tuesday evening's Board of Commissioners meeting: The public outcry regarding any proposed commercialization or expansion of Lawrenceville's Briscoe Field isn't going anywhere, and many want the recently defunct citizens advisory committee brought back to life.
The vast majority of the 450-seat auditorium at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center was filled with anti-Briscoe expansion supporters sporting red shirts Tuesday evening. About two dozen took to the podium before the close of the meeting, most rehashing oft-heard arguments against commercialization.
Several, however, opined for the board to take some type of action to reactivate the Gwinnett airport citizens advisory committee, which recently disbanded.
"I want to appeal to you to not have the committee dissolved, and to have them study this proposal more," Dacula resident Rob Patterson said. "As a citizen I feel like the citizens are a little bit outgunned ... Let's keep this as viable input for the citizens."
Lawrenceville Mayor Judy Jordan Johnson also stepped to the podium.
"I do believe in the power of committee," Johnson said. "I would encourage the commission to reinstate the committee and let them finish their work."
Tony Powell, a member of the advisory committee, called the group's previous meetings a "very honest exchange." He asked the board to let them continue to work.
"We need the action of this commission to really give us the instruction that we can go back to work," Powell said. "We want to do it, we want to finish it, we want to make a good decision, we want real facts and real evidence."
The problem is, commission action may not be the way to make it happen. After Tuesday's meeting, Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said she thought the committee had a "very valuable role" in the process, but that it was up to them to come back together.
"My stance is the committee didn't have the ability to dissolve itself," Nash said. "So I think it's a matter of the committee themselves could decide to go back to work."
The citizens board disbanded in December, less than two months after being fully formed.
While all members seemed to agree on the need for the studies, the committee was tied on the issue of whether to dissolve. The tie was broken by the group's chairman, Tip Cape, who said he was willing to reconvene once the study results are in.