The Sanford City Council met February 7, 2023. Councilor Ayn Hanselman was absent with notice, all others were present.
Following the Pledge of Allegiance, Mayor Becky Brink asked for a moment of silence to remember the family of Polly Mapes, who passed away recently.
The minutes of the January 17 and 31 meetings were approved.
There was no Mayor’s Report or Subcommittee Reports. Mayor Brink made a short statement to explain that City administration is facing the same inflation that residents are experiencing, and that salaries have had to increase to retain employees and keep the City functioning. She said she wanted to let people know that property taxes “will probably go up some this year in order for us to maintain the City level that we have.”
There was no report from City Manager Steve Buck as he was away on vacation.
Sanford Police Department Promotion: Police Chief Craig Andersen came to the podium and asked Lt. Matthew Gagné to come up. Chief Andersen said Lt. Gagné is a 1998 graduate of Sanford High School with degrees in marine biology and kinesiology from Gordon College. He has served the SPD since 2004 and was promoted to Corporal in 2011 and to Sergeant (later converted to Lieutenant) in 2018. “Tonight we place special trust and confidence in Lt. Gagné, recognizing his dedication, professional excellence and service to our community. We are promoting Matt to the rank of Major and welcome his leadership in the support services division,” he said, to applause from audience, which included many family members and police officers. Major Gagné said it has been an honor to serve the citizens of Sanford for 19 years and that he is proud to be part of a team working together to accomplish the mission of providing excellent law enforcement service. He especially thanked his wife Rebecca who he said bears the daily sacrifices of his erratic work schedule and “not knowing if I will come home.” Major Gagné will be responsible for department logistics, and oversee the Support Services Division which includes the Criminal Investigations Division, Mental Health Unit, School Resource Officers, Court Officer and Animal Control Officer.
Growth Council Update: Keith McBride, Executive Director of the Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council presented his quarterly update. He outlined his agency’s mission statement “To pursue sustainable economic development growth and policy which diversifies and increases the city’s tax base, promotes business retention and expansion, fosters high quality jobs, and capitalizes on public-private partnerships to achieve these objectives.” He said diversifying the tax base means attracting commercial and industrial development to reduce the burden on residential taxpayers. He spoke about the local impact of three economic trends that are affecting the country right now, which are inflation, higher interest rates and high labor demand. He said he expects interest rates to come down fairly soon and thinks Sanford is “on the precipice of a really great year for new development and economic activity.”
Mr. McBride talked about four big projects which are in development now.
- 16 River St., which is the former Car Quest Auto Parts store, has been sold and the new owner plans to turn it into a restaurant. The building has been vacant for several years and needs a lot of repair.
- Stenton Trust mill building on River St. He said the site plan application by WynnDevelopment for the exterior work addresses clean up, surface parking and landscaping. He said the company is “very dedicated to moving forward” on the project.
- Austin Place: The apartment building now being built by TPD Construction near the South Sanford roundabout has been delayed due to a difficulty in getting electrical components, but plans are to start leasing on schedule.
- Nasson Dorms: The redevelopment of the former Nasson dormitories into an apartment complex will come before the Planning Board and City Council for the necessary zoning changes soon. “They are very anxious to get started” on the project, he said.
Warming Center: Alex Hammerle, Sanford’s Emergency Management Director, gave a presentation on the setup and operation of the warming center at Veterans Memorial Gym during the recent extreme cold weather. Preparation began with a meeting on January 30 to begin coordination. The SPD’s Mental Health Unit spearheaded the effort to enlist volunteers to staff and support the center. Mr. Hammerle moved all the cots, blankets and bedding to the gym and began setting up. Communications Coordinator Jordan Wilson put the word out to traditional media and social media about the warming center. By Thursday morning, February 2, they had enough volunteers lined up. A total of 18 cots were set up with two blankets each. York County Emergency Management delivered pet sheltering supplies in case those were needed. Friday morning, Officers Colleen Adams and Mike Gordon of the MHU delivered food items and warm clothing that shelter guests could take if needed. Volunteers from Curtis Lake Church prepared soup and brought puzzles and games. The shelter was open from noon on Friday, February 3 to noon on Sunday the 5th. In all, eleven people took advantage of the shelter in the 48 hour period that it was open. Council members and Mr. Hammerle discussed some of the minor issues that arose, but overall he said it was “a resounding success” thanks to the hard work of volunteers and City staff.
Zendelle Bouchard spoke to clarify what she called some misconceptions regarding the keeping of residential chickens voiced by Council members at the January 17 meeting. She said the Urban Zone is not all in the downtown area, and that decentralizing the food supply by keeping chickens in small, isolated flocks helps prevent the spread of avian flu if precautionary measures are taken. She asked that residents who have sufficient space to meet setback requirements be allowed to keep chickens regardless of what zone they live in. [Ms. Bouchard is the Editor and Publisher of the Sanford Springvale News.]
Bobette Gordy, a resident of the Sanford Mill, said the new property management company there is talking about a ten percent rent increase. She asked the Council to pass a rent control ordinance that would limit increases to three percent to help working people and retirees.
Lawrence Furbish, Chair of the Trails Committee said he was concerned that the Council and City leaders may not appreciate the work of the volunteers who make up the Committee. He submitted his annual report detailing the accomplishments of the previous year and goals for the future, but got no response or even acknowledgement from the Council. He said the Committee members put in about 700 hours of work on the trails in each of the past two years. Although Council members typically do not respond during public participation, Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy apologized and said she had just found the report, and she really appreciates the Committee’s work. Mayor Brink said she had not seen it at all, and said she would like to have the Trails Committee present its report to the Council in person rather than just send the info in writing.
Cannabis Licenses: Public hearings were held for renewals of medical cannabis grower/cultivator licenses for the following businesses:
- Westbrook Creek LLC, 72 Emery St., Unit 405-1
- Westbrook Creek LLC, 72 Emery St., Unit 405-2
- Captains Cannabis LLC, 168 Country Club Rd., Unit E
- Grown East LLC, 12 Smada Dr., Unit A
- High Noon Farms LLC, 12 Smada Dr., Unit A
No one spoke in favor or against the renewals. Code Enforcement Officer Jamie Cole said his office is doing 7 or 8 inspections a week for annual relicensing. Renewals do not come before the Council until they have passed inspection. There will be several more renewals on the next few Council agendas. The licenses were all approved.
Credit Enhancement Agreement: Allison Navia, Manager of the Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport, said this hearing is required whenever the TIF district at the Airport is modified, as part of the legal requirements to move forward. The Council approved the Credit Enhancement Agreement with HB8 LLC at Hangar W61 under a separate line item.
Consent Agenda: A renewal of the license for games of chance (cribbage) at the Layfayette Social Club was approved without comment.
Airport Sealcoating: The Council approved a contract with McFarland Johnson to perform design, bidding, construction and grant administration for the sealcoating project at the Airport. Ms. Navia said the project will sealcoat and paint approximately 34,000 square yards of pavement at the Airport. A grant offer will probably not be received until too late in the season, so the work might have to wait until the spring of 2024.
Demolition: The Council accepted a bid of $4,500 from Alex D. Cyr Excavation to demolish the home at 2 Oscar Ave., which was taken by the City in a tax foreclosure. Ian Houseal, Director of Community Development, said the Land Bank had hoped to salvage the home but it was too far gone due to a badly leaking roof.
Council Goals: The Council unanimously voted to approve the its Goals for 2023. Mayor Brink said they did the final review in Executive Session after two recent workshops. The Council’s mission is “To provide responsive representation to the residents of Sanford while working to continually improve the community by establishing policy and ordinances, and by voting appropriations through the budget that are focused on council-developed and resident-supported goals for the City.” She said all the goals are focused on that mission and invited the public to view the goals online at https://www.sanfordmaine.org/government/city_council/index.php.
Councilor Comments: Deputy Mayor Herlihy mentioned that, in addition to Ms. Mapes, two other well-loved community members recently passed away, Leon Tanguay and Tom Jagger. Councilor Pete Tranchemontagne added his condolences to Peter Wentworth’s family on the loss of their son and the family of Larry Crocker who recently passed away also. On a positive note, he encouraged everyone to support the Culinary Arts students at SRTC by making a reservation for breakfast or lunch at the Café.
Future Agenda Items: Councilor Bob Stackpole asked to have the Trails Committee’s report at an upcoming Council meeting.
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