The Sanford City Council met December 20, 2022. Councilor Michael Termath was absent, all others were present.
The minutes of the December 6 meeting were approved with one spelling correction.
There was no Mayor’s Report. Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy and Mayor-Elect Becky Brink presented Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio with a Maine flag pin as a token of appreciation for her two years of leadership. Ms. Herlihy read a proclamation recognizing Mayor Mastraccio for her years of service to the community on many boards and committees.
Councilors Ayn Hanselmann and Bob Stackpole, and Deputy Mayor Herlihy reported on the previous week’s Subcommittee meetings. See that story.
City Manager’s Report
GIS Orthophotography: City Manager Steven Buck reported that the delivery of orthophotography for Sanford’s Geographic Information System (GIS) will be delayed for a month, with delivery expected January 31, 2023. (Orthophotography is aerial photography that has been corrected for topographic features and distortions due to the camera lens and angle, to provide a geometrically accurate map.) The new information should be online by March 2023. GIS records have been updated periodically since 2005, to track the City’s progression of land use. The public can access the Sanford GIS at https://www.axisgis.com/sanfordme/ or by clicking on the green icon at the top of the City’s website at https://www.sanfordmaine.org/.
Fire Chief Hiring Process: Mr. Buck reported that the first round of oral interviews should be complete this week, and the pool of well-qualified applicants will be narrowed down to three or four before moving on to a second round. He expects to have selected a new Fire Chief by the time Chief Steve Benotti retires January 12; but anticipates possibly needing to appoint an interim Chief for a period of time before the new Chief can start work.
Snowstorm: Mr. Buck said Public Works crews worked diligently from Thursday night through Sunday night to clear the roads of the heavy, wet snow. Unfortunately the City had to deal with many vehicles, trailers, dumpsters and other impediments which were parked on the City’s streets despite the parking ban. Police officers knocked on doors overnight to try to locate owners to move the vehicles before ticketing. He said the next storm will result in immediate towing of any illegally parked vehicles, which would include a $50 fine in addition to towing and impoundment fees. He urged all residents to sign up for email and text notifications of winter parking bans and other notices from the City. To do so, go to the City’s website at sanfordmaine.org and click E-Notify Alerts (on a smartphone, tap the arrow to the right of Public Notices to see it).
Twenty members of the public spoke to ask the Council to reconsider its decision to ban motorized vehicles from the section of the Rail Trail from Pleasant St. to the Lebanon line. Many said riding ATVs is their family’s favorite activity and that the hobby brings money into local businesses. Newly elected State Representative AnnMarie Fredericks asked for a hold on the ban while a focus group of stakeholders comes to a compromise on environmental issues and noise problems. “This action is something we can do better with,” she said. Samantha Hurley, Jeff Doiron and Aaron Hunter all said that ATVs are the only way for their family members with disabilities to access the trail. Matt Leggett, President of the Sanford ATV Club, pointed out that the Rail Trail Task Force came up with a policy that the Council approved in April, but there wasn’t sufficient time for the Club to get grants to do maintenance work or for the Police Department to get the equipment and training needed to enforce the policy before the season ended. He asked the Council to give the policy another chance so the City and the Club could work together to resolve issues. (Council discussion on the issue was held later in the meeting, see below.)
Pine Tree Maine 2: A public hearing was held on the license renewal application for the adult-use cannabis retail store at 22 Smada Dr. Owner Lindsay Holden said things at the store are going well with no issues. No one else spoke in favor or against.
Consent Agenda: The Pine Tree Maine 2 license renewal was approved with no objection. Applications from the Sanford Elks for Games of Chance and Beano were also approved.
Dangerous Building: The Council voted to extend the continuation of the Dangerous Building hearing for 11 Kimball St. to January 17, 2023, pending finalization and pending a compliance plan. Five of the building’s eight units have been vacated, and can not be occupied until deemed habitable by the Code Enforcement Officer.
Goal Setting: The Council voted to table discussion of goal-setting until January 17.
Registrar of Voters: The Council reappointed City Clerk Sue Cote as Registrar of Voters for another two-year term, through December 31, 2024.
Police Department Historian: The Council voted to appoint Paul Auger as Police Department Historian. This is a volunteer position. In addition to responding to requests for information on past members of the Police Department, he will be collecting information on current and new officers to create a “family tree” that can be kept updated. Police Chief Craig Andersen said the Department was recently contacted by the family of someone who served the SPD in the 1950s, and Mr. Auger did some research and was able to supply the family with documents and newspaper articles from the period. Mr. Auger is a former police officer who now works as a history teacher at Sanford High School.
River St. Reconstruction: The Council voted to accept the bid from Levesque Excavation of Sanford for the reconstruction of River St. in 2023, which will be the eastern half of the Mousam Promenade Project. Public Works Director Matt Hill said Levesque’s bid was the lowest of the seven submitted at $2,260,000. He said the company has an excellent history with his department and he sincerely recommends them. Mayor Mastraccio agreed, saying they did a great job on the reconstruction of Berwick Ave. in the Westside Village project.
Inspector: The Council voted to create an Engineering Field Inspector/Resident Engineer position within the Public Works Department. Mr. Hill stressed that the $40 million investment in Sanford roads over the next five years will require consistent and additional oversight. Mr. Buck added that hiring an inspector will cost less than contracting for outside inspection. The position will also include engineering duties that will benefit the city year-round.
Rail Trail: The Council discussed revising its decision to ban motorized vehicles from a portion of the Rail Trail. Councilor Jonathan Martell asked to reconsider the decision altogether. That motion failed 2-4, with Councilor Hanselmann joining him. She agreed with statements made by Mr. Leggett during Public Participation that the City didn’t give the Rail Trail policy enough of a chance. After lengthy discussion, the Council voted unanimously to revise the ban to apply to ATVs as defined by state law only, rather than all motorized vehicles. However, Councilors Brink and Stackpole indicated they felt the issue warranted further consideration. Councilor Brink suggested having an environmental study done, as well as an engineer’s report on what it would cost to make the Trail more resistant to ATV damage. She said perhaps a weight limit on vehicles, or limiting the hours they can use the trail could be potential compromises. Mr. Buck clarified that, under state law, dirt bikes are ATVs, but snowmobiles are not.
Snowmobiles: Under a separate line item, the Council voted to establish the dates that snowmobiles are allowed on the Rail Trail between Pleasant St. and the Lebanon line as December 1 to April 1. ATVs with tracks can use the Trail during those dates if they are registered as snowmobiles.
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