By Zendelle Bouchard
The Sanford City Council met October 3, 2023. All members were present.
Mayor Becky Brink announced the details for Candidates Night, to be held in Council Chambers October 12 at 6 pm. See this story for more details. She said absentee ballots have been mailed, and in-person absentee voting has begun at City Hall.
City Manager’s Report
Personnel Policy: City Manager Steve Buck said the City’s Human Resources Department has begun a review of personnel policies, last updated in 2017. The update is expected to be finished in 2024.
Mineral Extraction Ordinance: Retiring Planning Director Beth Della Valle has completed the draft of the new proposed Mineral Extraction Ordinance. The Planning Board has reviewed it and recommends the Council pass it in its entirety. The Zoning Subcommittee will review it next week before it comes to the Council. The major change this ordinance proposes is a move from a five-year permit to an annual license.
Well Shutdown: Buck noted the recent shutdown of one of the Sanford Water District’s wells due to PFAS contamination. He said the SWD plans to put a treatment system in place, but that they believe the PFAS levels will drop to compliance levels once the rainy season ends. The City’s snow dump near the Cobb Well may be moved to a different location. PFAS is in road treatment chemicals as well as many household products. See this story for more on how SWD is addressing the issue.
Homelessness Update: The Sanford Police Department’s Mental Health Unit is currently tracking 107 unhoused individuals in our community. Of that number, 30 were displaced for economic reasons. The first two of those individuals have just been assigned an apartment. The warming shelter at the former Lafayette School, run by York County Shelter Programs, is on track to open October 15. They have funding to shelter 20 people overnight, but they are seeking funding to increase that to 42. The temporary resource hub for unhoused community members will stay in place near the York County Community Action offices on Spruce Street for another week. The full report will be posted on the City’s website here.
Needle Exchange: Maine Access Points, which ran the controversial mobile needle exchange program near the millyard, has found a permanent location at 840 Main St. The building was formerly Raz’n Cash Pawn Shop and was most recently leased to Fred’s Finds. The location will need to be licensed by the state before it opens. Buck said he is seeking to have the legislature return the program to a 1-to-1 needle exchange, rather than the 1-to-100 system that was put in place during the pandemic. Councilor Pete Tranchemontagne asked if there is another program that could be put in place instead of the needle exchange. Buck replied that since Maine Access Point’s mobile location was shut down, volunteers have been distributing needles all over the City. “It is going to happen whether you want it or not,” he said, and stressed that he will ensure MAP staff is doing as strong a job as possible encouraging alternatives to injection in order to reduce the volume of needle litter.
Communications / Presentations
Fire Department Awards: The planned presentation of awards for meritorious service was rescheduled for the next meeting.
Public Participation: none.
General Assistance: There was a public hearing held on the state’s annual update to the maximum allowances for General Assistance. No one spoke in favor or against. Under a separate agenda item, the Council heard the first reading of the ordinance amendments. The second reading will be held at the next Council meeting, before they vote to adopt.
Dangerous Buildings: The Council voted to confirm the findings and orders for 21 Grove St., Springvale; 144 Stanley Rd. and 217 Old Mill Rd. See this story for more details on these properties.
Council Meeting Date: The Council voted to change the date of its November 7 meeting, to Wednesday, November 8, to avoid conflicting with Election Day.
Memorial Gym Rental: The Council approved an application by St. Thomas School to use Veterans Memorial Gym for the cost of cleaning only for its Mingle Jingle event and Spring Fever Fair.
Community Paramedicine Program: see separate story.
Southern Maine Aviation: The Council approved an amendment to the lease between the Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport and Southern Maine Aviation to allow a temporary double-wide office trailer to be installed adjacent to the parking lot at 199 Airport Rd. Jim Knowles, owner of SMA, told the Council his company has outgrown its space and plans to add a new 5,000 square foot building on Presidential Lane to house the flight school. When the new building is done, the trailer will be removed.
Eminent Domain: see separate story.
Councilor Tranchemontagne announced the Homeless Veterans Mobile Standdown will take place at the Vet Center at 643 Main St. on October 18 from 10 am to 2 pm. Representatives of the Veterans Administration and other organizations will be on hand to connect veterans to needed services.
Councilor Nate Hitchcock suggested residents avoid Route 4 when possible due to the construction at the intersection of School Street.
Councilor Jonathan Martell said at the next Public Safety Subcommittee meeting there will be discussion about safety concerns near the Sanford Mill back entrance and parking lot.
Mayor Brink announced that Curtis Lake Church will be hosting a new Halloween event this year at Carpentier Park on October 14, open to the whole community. They will not be doing Trunk or Treat.
Councilor Ayn Hanselmann asked if the City needed to make any changes in light of recent “Zoom-bombing” incidents at Portland and Biddeford City Council meetings. Brink responded that Sanford’s setup enables Executive Administrator Lorisa Ricketts to immediately mute any Zoom participant and lock them out of the meeting if necessary.