The Sanford City Council met December 6, 2022. Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio was absent with notice; all others were present.
The minutes of the November 15 meeting were approved with one correction.
There was no Mayor’s report. Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy and Councilor Bob Stackpole gave a quick recap of the November 22 Subcommittee meetings. (See that story.)
City Manager’s Report
Sanford In The News: City Manager Steven Buck reported on recent articles in the media that featured Sanford. An article in Mainebiz is about the redevelopment of the former Nasson College dorms off Summer St. Read it here: https://www.mainebiz.biz/article/last-vacancies-on-former-nasson-college-campus-to-become-market-rate-apartments. A December 5 Press Herald article featured comments from two area gravel pit operations who say the City’s proposed mineral extraction ordinance will hurt their businesses. The proposed ordinance was developed by a task force that included representatives from the mineral extraction industry. It is still under review by the Planning Board. Mr. Buck said he was comfortable that the industry’s major concerns will be addressed in the ordinance.
State Economy: Mr. Buck reported that the State Revenue Forecasting Committee is projecting an additional $282.8 million in tax receipts for the current biennium ending in June 2023, and an additional $488.6 million for the 2023-25 biennium. The amount of revenue sharing that will come to Sanford has not yet been estimated, but “it will definitely have a positive impact on the City’s receipts,” he said.
Software Update: The City Clerk’s office will be closed on Thursday, December 15, for a long-awaited update to the City’s Munis accounting software. The update will continue on Friday the 16th, when the office is normally closed anyway. Unless your business can’t wait, residents might want to avoid coming in to the office on Monday the 19th, in case there are any issues with the update. Staff has already received training in the new format.
Opioid Settlement Update: The City has received a second settlement payment of $42,780.33 from the continuing opioid lawsuits, bringing the total to $80,579.23 received so far. 18 more payments from this first distributor are expected, but the total amount Sanford will receive has not been disclosed. A settlement of $135,482.85 from a second distributor is pending.
Fire Chief Hiring Process: Advertising for a new Fire Chief to replace retiring Chief Steve Benotti has yielded a strong field of candidates. A hiring committee has been appointed and is reviewing the applications. The first round of interviews is expected the week of December 19. A new Chief is expected to be hired by mid-February.
Main Street Memo: The City’s new e-newsletter is off to a strong start with 231 email subscribers. The City’s Facebook page has over 3,900 followers.
RAISE Grant Update: Mr. Buck said the November 17 open house and public hearing on the RAISE Grant projects were well attended. Deputy Mayor Herlihy disagreed, and said there were very few people there who weren’t City staff or City Councilors. She said the problem appeared to be with the system of notifying abutters. She received a notice at her home address the day of the hearing, and never received one at her business address, which is also an abutter. Mr. Buck said the City only received official notification the day of the meeting as well. A Major Projects page will be added to the City’s website in January, which will link to the MaineDOT’s pages for the RAISE Grant projects. A final public hearing is scheduled for November 2023.
Matthew Leggett, President of the Sanford ATV Club spoke for a few moments about the Council’s vote to bar ATVs from most of the Rail Trail at its last meeting. He said the vote took club members by surprise, as they expected the Council would just be discussing the issue, and not making a final decision. He talked about the progress that has been made by adoption of the Rail Trail policy this past spring, the training of police officers to patrol the Trail, and the work that has been done to suppress dust in one section. He said Club members understand that ATVs cause damage to the Trail and are prepared to spend money to maintain it. He has asked Club members who live in Sanford to attend the next Council meeting to talk about what the Rail Trail means to them and express their concerns in a positive way. He asked the Council to talk to equestrians and bicyclists and get their input as well.
The license application by the Wolves Club for games of chance (cribbage and Texas hold’em) was approved without objection.
Ordinance Amendments: The Council approved amendments to three existing ordinances, which were requested by the Police Department. Public hearings on these were held at the previous Council meeting.
- The Sanford Drug-Free Zone ordinance was amended to add Central Park, Blouin Field, Witham Fields and Memorial Gym to the Drug-Free Zone.
- The Smoking and Tobacco Use ordinance was amended to add those same locations to the list of places where smoking and tobacco use are prohibited.
- The Parks, Schools, Malls and Cemeteries ordinance was amended to prohibit erection or construction of permanent or temporary shelters including tents and tarps, except as a sunshade. Violators are subject to removal from the property and issued a criminal trespass notice.
Knox Boxes: The Council approved a new ordinance to require any building having three or more units to have a Knox box installed, and the keys made available to the Fire Department. (A Knox box is a small safe containing keys to the building and individual units.) Any apartment complex that has more than one building shall have a Knox box installed on each building. The Fire Department requested this ordinance to help them access buildings quickly and safely without damaging the building. Property owners have one year to comply with the new ordinance.
Planning Board Resignations: The Council accepted with regret the resignations of Dianne Connolly and Joseph Hanslip from the Planning Board. Ms. Connolly indicated in her letter that she may consider applying again in the future if her family and health issues resolve. Mr. Buck noted that the Planning Board will have five open positions to fill, with the expiring terms of three other active members. Ms. Herlihy said the Planning Board is a good position for people who want to know what is happening in town. It meets on Wednesday nights twice a month. See this page for more info on applying to Boards and Committees: https://www.sanfordmaine.org/news_detail_T10_R45.php.
Airport Pickup Truck: The Council approved amending the bid from Arundel Ford for a pickup truck with plow and sander. The previously approved amount was $69,150 for a 2022 model; the new amount is $72,150 for a 2023 model. Arundel Ford was unable to get the 2022 truck. Airport Manager Allison Navia said the Airport’s budget can absorb the increase. The new truck is urgently needed to replace the 22-year-old truck currently in service.
Orioles Way: The Council approved accepting Orioles Way as a City street, which means the City will take over maintenance and provide trash pickup. The homes on the street have all been built and are fully occupied, bringing in more than $75,000 in total tax revenue each year. Ms. Herlihy noted that this subdivision was the last one that was approved with City acceptance planned, and that developers are now instructed to assume a homeowner’s association will be required to take over maintenance.
Overnight Parking: There was lengthy discussion on proposed amendments to the Unlawful Parking ordinance that would prohibit commercial vehicles, tractors, trailers, boats, campers/recreational vehicles, ATVs, snowmobiles, or unregistered vehicles from parking all-night on any public way. Amendments to this effect have been debated by City Council Subcommittees on multiple occasions, but members have not been able to come to consensus. Mr. Buck said there was new urgency to pass an amendment following an issue with a camper that was parked on North St. this summer with people living in it. It was only able to be addressed because it was unregistered for six months. (If it was properly registered, it might still be there.) The proposed amendments include the following:
- No motor vehicle or towed unit may be parked on a public way or City owned property unless it is registered.
- The prohibition against sleeping for more than four hours in a vehicle is clarified to include campers, trailers, other types of towed units or combinations thereof.
- Campers, trailers and towed units may not park overnight on a public way or City property without a permit from the Police Department. Overnight is defined as four or more consecutive hours between 11:00 pm and 5:00 am.
- Commercial vehicles (which are already prohibited from overnight parking, but not defined) are defined as those having a gross weight of more than 10,000 lbs, or 26,001 lbs with a towed unit; buses; or used for transporting hazardous materials.
Mr. Buck, Deputy Mayor Herlihy and Councilor Brink advocated passage of the amendments, saying that City streets are meant for transportation, but that too many people are using them for free storage of recreational vehicles. Councilor Stackpole agreed, adding that the cost of ownership also includes responsibility to take care of and store the vehicles. The damage done to City streets by oversized vehicles, and safety are other concerns.
Councilors Termath and Martell were opposed to the amendments, saying that people should not have to get permission for occasional overnight parking of trailers or RVs, and that the process for obtaining permission was not well enough defined. Councilor Termath would like to see more exceptions for people who have no other place to park their trailers or commercial vehicles.
Councilor Hanselmann was initially opposed, but after hearing arguments from each side, was leaning more toward approval.
After some further discussion, it was decided to hold a public hearing at the second Council meeting in January to get input from residents, then tweak the proposed amendments if necessary before bringing it back to the Council for a vote.
Councilor Termath announced that the VFW Post 9935 would be hosting a free community meal on Christmas Day from noon to 4:00 pm, and all are welcome. He also announced that there would be a Pearl Harbor Day observance December 7 at Number One Pond.
Councilor Hanselmann thanked those in the community who helped put together and distribute almost 200 Boxes of Joy to families in need, and Parks and Recreation for the very successful Holly Daze events.
Councilor Brink said she recently heard of the passing of Dr. Paul Basko, a local chiropractor for over 40 years. She said Dr. Basko and his wife were the reason she and her husband established Brink Chiropractic in Sanford.
Councilor Stackpole encouraged everyone to enjoy the holiday season.
Deputy Mayor Herlihy thanked Councilor Hanselmann and Councilor-Elect Pete Tranchemontagne for helping her put up the Council’s entry in the Spree of Trees. She thanked the Patterson family for donating the tree for Central Park. She spoke of the recent passing of Springvale farmer Jerry Rivard (see this story).
Future Agenda Items
Councilor Hanselmann asked if the Council could consider waiving or reducing the rental fees for Veterans Memorial Gym for events like the Spree of Trees that benefit the City.
Subscribe to our weekly email newsletter and never miss a story! Visit sanfordspringvalenews.com/subscribe/ to sign up.