Members of the Sanford Fire Department were recognized for Meritorious Service. Credit: City of Sanford
By Zendelle Bouchard
The Sanford City Council met Oct. 17, 2023. All members were present.
Mayor Becky Brink thanked the organizers and participants in this year’s Candidates Night forum.
Councilor Ayn Hanselmann reported on the Public Safety Subcommittee meeting held Oct. 10. See this story for details.
Councilor Bob Stackpole reported on the Oct. 10 Zoning Subcommittee meeting. The proposed ordinance on use of recreational vehicles for temporary living quarters was reviewed and a few changes made (see Old Business below). The Subcommittee also reviewed and discussed the proposed amendments to the ordinances pertaining to mineral extraction, which have been in development for more than a year.
City Manager’s Report
City Manager Steve Buck reported that he attended a York County Eggs and Issues event at which Sen. Susan Collins was the keynote speaker. She talked extensively about workforce development efforts in the region, but he noted that the success of those programs is impacted by the shortage of affordable housing.
The Planning Board is continuing its work on possible amendments to the zoning ordinances due to the passage of LD2003, the new state law that mandates municipalities allow greater density of housing development. Buck said the Board is looking at eliminating the Rural Residential zone and making it Rural Mixed Use.
Buck reported the Council will have a workshop on Mineral Extraction on Tuesday, Oct. 24, in which they will review all the proposed changes.
Buck said the Homeless Task Force didn’t meet the previous week due to Indigenous Peoples Day, but he reported the Task Force will hear from two harm reduction (needle exchange) providers at its next meeting. An update on the Lafayette School warming shelter/resource hub is also expected. He said the shelter has 20 zero gravity chairs rather than beds, and is seeking funding for 22 more.
The Sept. 28 stabbing incident that occurred on Heritage Crossing was summarized. An unhoused individual was riding his bike when he was accosted by two men who stabbed him in the back multiple times. Buck stressed that the alleged perpetrators, who were arrested by Sanford Police later that day, were NOT homeless. They have been charged with elevated aggravated assault and robbery. He said this case highlights the vulnerability of people living without housing.
The City continues to spend extensive time and resources on the issue of homelessness. “We struggle daily to balance the property owner rights, public safety, and the humanitarian response to people unhoused and unable to self-resolve this situation,” Buck said, adding that Sanford’s crime rate, and the crime rate by unhoused people is not higher than any other city. He said the Housing First program, being developed by Sanford Housing Authority with Maine State Housing, will be a 30-unit building with 24/7 case management services, and is the first step toward making the chronically homeless well and productive citizens again.
Communications / Presentations
SFD Awards: Fire Chief Scott Susi presented Awards for Meritorious Service to members of the Sanford Fire Department who responded to a medical emergency on August 17 that resulted in the saving of a life. FF/Paramedic Ryan Gaudreau, Lieutenant/Paramedic Jarrett Clarke, FF/EMT Wayne Ham, FF/EMT Kyle Lavoie and Lieutenant/Paramedic Steven Ouellette received certificates and applause. Thanks were also given to FF/EMT Christopher Gay who was also involved with the incident but was unable to attend the ceremony.
Planning Commission: City Manager Buck announced Governor Mills is establishing a 15-member Planning Commission for the state’s celebration of the 250th Anniversary of the founding of the United States in 2026. There is one seat on the commission for a local elected official, so Councilors are encouraged to apply if they are interested.
Lawrence Furbish of the Trails Committee provided an update on work that has been completed recently on the trails to get them back in shape now that ATVs are no longer allowed. The section of the Rail Trail between Oak Street and Hanson Ridge Road has been ditched, crowned, graveled and compacted by Stuart, Torno and Stuart of Lebanon. He said that section is now in the best shape it has been in for many years. The section from Oak Street to Main Street, which was in very bad shape due to a washout, was also done. (Mousam Way Land Trust also hired the same contractor to do the Vigue Trail between Deering Neighborhood Road and the Rail Trail.) Furbish said the Trails Committee would like to apply for grants to do more work, but that Sanford currently has open grants under both of the major programs that fund trail work, so they can’t apply again until those projects are completed. Those grants are for the loop trail behind Sanford High School, which is almost complete, and the Carpentier Park upgrades. (City Manager Buck said the Carpentier Park project has been delayed by what he called “social engineering” in the funding process – anti-texting and Buy American clauses.) Mayor Brink said she has received many positive emails and texts about the trail work being done.
Boiler House: A public hearing was held on the City’s proposal to take part of the International Woolen Mill property by eminent domain for the purpose of abating the blight, remediating environmental contamination and constructing a public parking facility. (See this story for more details.) The properties are owned by Regco Inc. of Florida. Ian Houseal, Director of Community Development, said the City must own the property to apply for an EPA cleanup grant. Once the boiler house building is demolished and the contaminated soil removed, the surface parking lot will function as a cap and might possibly serve as the foundation for a garage in the future. No members of the public spoke in favor or against the proposal.
Cleanup Grant: A separate public hearing was held on the draft application for the $4.7M cleanup grant. Charlie Springer, Brownfields program manager for TRC Environmental, who has been working with the City of Sanford for many years on various projects, said the application is due November 13. The award notification would be made in spring of 2024, with the funds available on October 1 of next year.
He detailed the process by which alternatives for the cleanup were analyzed. Demolition of the boiler house building and the hazardous materials inside – which include asbestos, lead paint and mercury – is the first component. Three alternatives were considered. The first is to do nothing. The second alternative is to abate the hazardous materials first, then demolish the building as a clean structure. The third alternative is to demolish the building with the hazardous waste inside and ship it all out as contaminated material. He said the third alternative was chosen because it meets all the objectives and is cheaper because each brick, part and screw doesn’t have to be decontaminated first.
The second component of the cleanup is dealing with what’s in the ground. Again, there are three alternatives, the first of which is to do nothing. The second alternative is to do hotspot excavation. Areas that have the highest levels of contamination get removed and shipped offsite, then the cap cover system (parking lot) is installed. Alternative three is to dig out all the soil and ship it off. Springer said #2 was chosen, because it limits costs while achieving the same objectives. He said this is the exact same process that was done several years ago when the Aerofab building was removed to create the parking lot that now serves the redeveloped Sanford Mill.
Councilor Pete Tranchemontagne asked what would happen to the stairs that lead down from Pioneer Avenue. Springer said the City’s intent is to maintain the stairs, but if the building is the only thing holding them up, they may have to do something else. Councilor Stackpole asked if future generations would ask why the contamination wasn’t completely removed rather than capped. Springer replied that if site conditions or technology change in the future, the City could revisit the parking lot to perhaps turn it into a buildable site.
Under a separate agenda item, the Council voted unanimously to finalize the draft Condemnation Order to take the property. There will be a second public hearing on November 8, when the Council will vote on the draft order for action.
RV Ordinance: The Council unanimously approved a new ordinance establishing regulations for recreational vehicles used as temporary living quarters. (See our previous story for more details.) Since the first reading earlier this month, language was added to prohibit the use of generators except during a power outage. Houseal clarified that if Code Enforcement issues a notice of violation of this ordinance, it could be appealed to the Board of Appeals. The ordinance could also be amended in the future if needed.
General Assistance: The Council voted to adopt ordinance amendments to reflect the updated state maximums for general assistance benefits. This amendment is done annually. GA Director Vicki Martin said most of the money her office pays out is going to housing and CMP bills.
Kiwanis 100th: Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy read a proclamation from the Council in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Sanford Kiwanis Club. Some of the programs and projects that Kiwanis has sponsored include the helipad at Goodall Hospital, the walkways and comfort station at Gateway Park, scholarships for high school students and more. This year the members have undertaken a major cleanup of Cobb Stadium.
Resignations: The Council voted to accept the resignation of Lori Hegarty from the Mousam Watershed Dam Coalition, and to appoint Nathan Sevigny as a new representative. The Council also voted to accept the resignation of Gina Sawtelle from the Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council Board of Directors. The Board is waiting to hear back from a potential replacement.
Demolition: The Council voted to accept the bid of $8,750 from Guillemette Bros. Inc. of Sanford for the demolition and removal of the structures and debris at 357 Sam Allen Rd. There will be an additional cost for disposal of the building materials, and the money will come from the Land Bank’s revolving fund. The property owner will be charged for all costs incurred; if it is not paid, the City will place a lien on the property. The property was declared a Dangerous Building by the Council in March. Houseal noted that there was a lower bid from an out-of-town contractor, but it was not accepted due to issues with past performance. He said the building is so dilapidated, the asbestos removal contractor was not willing to go in, but they will oversee the demolition and removal. Any asbestos will be set aside and disposed of separately.
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357 Sam Allen Rd.
Credit: City of Sanford
Extra Mile Day: Herlihy read a proclamation from the Council declaring November 1, 2023 as Extra Mile Day, to recognize people and organizations who are creating positive change in the community through extraordinary efforts in volunteerism and service. She said the Council specifically wanted to acknowledge the contributions of those who helped the City manage the sudden influx of asylum seekers earlier this year, including York County Community Action, Nasson Health Center, Sanford Housing Authority, York County Shelter Programs, the Sanford School Department, the General Assistance office, the City Manager’s office, Sanford Police and Fire Departments, the Codes Enforcement office, Calvary Baptist Church and other churches, the Sanford Backpack Program, Stuff the Bus, the Sanford-Springvale YMCA, Nasson Community Center, and the Maine Immigrant Rights Organization.
Councilor Nate Hitchcock congratulated Curtis Lake Church for their Party in the Park event on October 14, which he said was well done with a great turnout. He also suggested the City look into assistive devices for hearing-impaired citizens who want to attend Council meetings.
Councilor Pete Tranchemontagne encouraged homeless veterans to attend the Mobile Stand Down at 634 Main St. on October 18 to access a variety of services.
Councilor Jonathan Martell asked if the roundabout could be mowed before winter as it is getting unsightly. Brink replied that the Rotary Club has plans to put a flagpole there. Buck added that the artful landscape design presented to the Council back in February was too costly, but may be installed in the future if funds can be raised. For now, the plan is to remove the vegetation and replace it with hardscaping.
Councilor Hanselmann said she received a complaint about the audio at a recent Planning Board meeting. She noted that it is also difficult for people to hear Council members if they turn their heads to speak to each other. She suggested investigating a better microphone system. She also promoted the Friends of Downtown’s Selfies with Scarecrows event, which is going on through October 31. Lastly, she suggested inviting Andy Orazio, Executive Director of the Sanford-Springvale YMCA, to make a presentation to the Council at some point.
Councilor Stackpole thanked members of the Sanford Fire Department who responded to his home after a recent fall. He also referenced recent news events and reminded people about the detrimental effects on mental health of viewing too many negative images in the media.