The Sanford City Council met February 21, 2023. Mayor Becky Brink was absent with notice, all other members were present. The minutes of the previous meeting were approved.
Mayor’s Report: Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy relayed a message from Rep. Anne-Marie Mastraccio that the state of Maine’s Unclaimed Property Division is holding a lot of unclaimed funds for Sanford and Springvale residents. Go to maineunclaimedproperty.gov to search by name or town. (Unclaimed funds often show up many years later, so search for deceased family members and defunct businesses as well.) Deputy Mayor Herlihy also encouraged residents to go to the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland Wednesday night to support the Sanford High School Girls Varsity basketball team in their semifinal game. Sanford supporters are asked to wear white as the Spartans are the home team.
Subcommittee Reports: Councilors Bob Stackpole and Ayn Hanselmann reported on last week’s Subcommittee meetings. See this story for the details.
Communications / Presentations
Trails Committee: Lawrence Furbish, Chair of the Trails Committee, presented its annual report. Among the highlights:
- Trails Committee members put in almost 700 volunteer hours of service working on the trails.
- The parking lot at the entrance to the Mousam Way Trail on Stanley Rd. was upgraded.
- New signage was installed in several locations.
- Sections of the trails were rebuilt or repaired.
- Trails around the dog park, the Armory and YMCA were upgraded.
- The Farm Trail north of Blanchard Rd. was upgraded in partnership with the Sno-Goers snowmobile club.
- A proposal by Randy White to create a bypass for beginning and intermediate mountain bikers between Holdsworth Park and the Leap, was approved, and it has been completed.
- Ongoing projects include the upgrade of the Mousam Way South and bike path trailhead on School St. and improvements to the trail connecting the Sanford Community Forest and the Rhododendron Preserve.
- The Committee is working with the Maine Department of Transportation on plans to add an underpass for foot and bicycle traffic to the proposed reconstruction of the Route 4 Bridge over the Mousam River. This would facilitate a major goal from the Committee’s master plan, to connect with the Eastern Trail which runs from Kennebunk to South Portland.
- The Committee is working with the Sanford Sewerage District on plans to connect the trails to the birding areas at the SSD.
Roundabout: Seth Kimball of Aceto Landscape Architects presented the conceptual plan for aesthetic improvements to the roundabout in South Sanford. See the February Subcommittee Report for details. The crown will be lowered a little bit, but some curvature needs to be retained so that motorists are not blinded by headlights from the opposite side. MaineDOT has seen the conceptual plan but there are many steps to go through before it is approved. Improved pedestrian crossings will also be addressed. The public will have an opportunity to comment before any final decisions are made. City Manager Steve Buck said the improvements will likely be done in two phases. Council members had no objection to the conceptual plan.
Public Participation: Dianne Connolly of Springvale asked if there was any plan to record and upload Subcommittee meetings for public viewing. Mr. Buck said Zoom files take up a lot of storage space, and the City is at its limit. They are looking at purchasing additional storage, which would allow them to upload the Subcommittee meetings and make them available for a month, then the files would be deleted to make room for the next month’s meetings. The proposal will come before the Municipal Operations and Property Subcommittee before approval.
Dangerous Buildings: The Council voted to extend the Dangerous Building hearing for the multi-family home at 11 Kimball St. once again, to March 21. The original hearing was held November 1, 2022. At this time only three of the building’s eight units are occupied, and the rest cannot be reoccupied until the violations have been corrected. There is an active building permit on several of the outstanding issues, which will expire July 31. The building owner, Alton Rollinsford, has appealed the City’s action. Mr. Rollinsford owns nine properties in Sanford.
Opioid Settlement: Mr. Buck provided an update on the opioid settlements. New lawsuits are being prosecuted against retailers Walgreens, Walmart and CVS, and manufacturers Allergan and Teva. The total settlement could reach $20 billion, to be distributed nationally. The City has until April 18 to sign on. Details are still being worked out, but the new settlement would be distributed in the same way as the previous settlement, with 50% to the state’s Opioid Recovery Fund, 30% to municipalities and 20% to the Attorney General’s Office. The allowable uses are also the same, which in Sanford would include the Mental Health Unit of the Sanford Police Department, Emergency Medical Services, evidence-based substance use programming, and more. Between the two settlements, Sanford will get an average of about $50,000 per year for several years. Initial disbursements from the first settlement will be included in this year’s budget. The Council authorized Mr. Buck to opt-in to legal representation for the new settlements.
Trails Committee Bylaws: The Council approved the following proposed changes to the Trails Committee’s Bylaws:
- Trails Committee members must be registered voters in Sanford / Springvale.
- The Committee will request the Council remove a member who has missed three consecutive meetings without notice.
- Amendments to the Committee’s Bylaws must be approved by the City Council.
Financial Reports: Mr. Buck went over the latest report from Finance Director Ronni Lynn Champlin, covering the first 32 weeks of the 2022-2023 municipal budget. Mr. Buck detailed the accounts that were over budget and explained each one. Several were just due to timing, for example, the line item for County Taxes is paid all at once in August rather than a percentage each week. Overtime salaries are significantly over, but are balanced by the regular salaries line items which are under budget. At this point in the fiscal year, 61.5% is the target for expenses. Expenses are currently at 65%, but that includes encumbrances for future expenses. Without the encumbrances, they are at 58.5%. Ms. Champlin’s report concludes that the 2022/23 budget has proven to be an accurate reflection of the City’s costs of providing service. Revenues are at 58.6%. Excise taxes are below projections, but Mr. Buck said those mostly come in the spring. He commended Treasurer Erin McMann on her placement of the City’s investments. He also noted that with the state’s economy doing well, he anticipates a favorable increase in revenues from the state.
Contractor Bags: The Council approved a price of $5 for contractor bags to be accepted at the Transfer Station. It was emphasized that these are NOT the orange bags that residents use for household trash, this is for contractors only. Mr. Hill said the price for a 55-gallon contractor bag has been $2 as long as anyone can remember. Bulk materials are charged at $25/yard, and a 55-gallon bag is about a quarter of a yard, so $5 would capture most of the cost and account for various sizes of contractor bags. Leaves in contractor bags can be deposited for free but you have to empty them out of the bag and take the bag with you.
Airport Land Lease: The Council approved a lease for an unused portion of the Airport to be used by Northern Maine Community College / York County Community College for a commercial driver’s license course. Mr. Buck said several City employees are enrolled in the course to upgrade their licenses, and he extended his appreciation to the Community College System for being responsive to the community’s needs for workforce development.
Council Member Comments
Councilor Stackpole reported on his visit to the SRTC Café and encourage everyone to make a reservation for a nice, affordable meal there.
Councilor Hanselmann extended her condolences to the family of Craig McLeod, who recently lost his battle with cancer. She also reported on the community food distribution at SHS last week, where about 150,000 pounds of food was distributed to approximately 1,200 families. She spoke about the Friends of Downtown’s Passport to Your Heart event to promote local businesses (see this story).
Councilor Pete Tranchemontagne encouraged people to attend the Toss For a Cause Cornhole Tournament at the Nasson Gym March 4. The event raises money for kids to play sports who otherwise could not afford to.
Deputy Mayor Herlihy asked for information on the upcoming transition of Mayflower Place Assisted Living to independent senior apartments. She said she had concerns about the loss of assisted living options in the community.
Future Agenda Items
Councilor Jonathan Martell said he had a constituent reach out to him about a parking issue in Springvale which he would like to bring to Subcommittee.
Councilor Tranchemontagne said he has been fielding calls about tiny houses being constructed on Sam Allen Rd. and wanted to know if they were allowed on regular house lots. Mr. Buck said they are now allowed in residential zones since amendments were made to the state building code to adopt standards for them. He said the Code Enforcement Department could come to the Zoning Subcommittee to explain the standards.
Councilor Hanselmann asked if the City is taking advantage of grant funding opportunities provided to communities in transition under LD 2003, a state law which expanded housing limits in residential zones. Mr. Buck replied that they are.