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Architect's rendering of how the upper Mid Town Mall might look in the future with further development. The square building in the center is not actually there yet.

Councilor Jonathan Martell led the Pledge of Allegiance and the moment of silence.

A Commendation was awarded to Public Works Department employee Aaron Downs on behalf of the City, for his service to the country. In the letter of Commendation, Public Works Director Matt Hill wrote “After being called to mobilize by Maine Army National Guard, A. Downs responded and performed duties required to protect Democracy, following an insurrection, ensuring a peaceful transition of power in our nation’s capital.” A letter from Brigadier General Dean A. Preston called Sergeant Downs a vital member of the Guard, and thanked the Public Works Department: “We acknowledge that when a Soldier serves, so does their Family and their Employer…we would like to recognize you and your organization for your relentless support of your Soldier and the Maine Army National Guard.” Council members congratulated Sgt. Downs and thanked him for his service.

In the Public Participation segment of the meeting, Colby Vezina asked how long the Council would be meeting on Zoom. Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio responded that she expects the Zoom format to continue for awhile until it’s safe for everyone to meet in public.

Twenty-one separate public hearings were held on license renewals for marijuana grower/cultivators and manufacturers. In one hearing, Code Enforcement Officer Jamie Cole commented that, in recent months, he had twice caught Nicholas Wyman, who does business under the name GSG Consulting, processing marijuana in a location for which he does not have an occupancy permit. He later met with Mr. Wyman and his attorney, and the location has since been cleared. All processing is now being done in the location for which Mr. Wyman does possess a permit. Mr. Cole said he was not opposed to renewing the license, but just wanted to make the Council aware. The rest of the license renewal hearings were uneventful. The Council approved all license renewals.

A public hearing on a proposed amendment to the Solid Waste Fees, which would raise the price of the Pay-As-You-Throw trash bags from $13.50 to $14.50 per sleeve, was also held. City Manager Steve Buck went over the history of the PAYT program and described how the rising cost of disposing of our recyclables has made the increase necessary. He said if a household uses one large bag per week, the overall increase would cost them an extra 20 cents per week. Councilor Luke Lanigan asked whether the bag price could remain the same and instead raise the increase through taxation. Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy pointed out that businesses and multi-family dwellings don’t get trash pickup, and through their property taxes are subsidizing the pickup service for single family homeowners. “We need to be very cautious about…asking them to further subsidize. The bags are the fairest way,” she said.

A few residents added their thoughts. Colby Vezina suggested doing away with trash pickup altogether, and have everyone take their own trash to the transfer station instead. Dianne Connolly said the quality of the bags has been an issue for seven years, and recommended finding a different manufacturer. She also asked why the bags are packaged in a non-recyclable wrapper.

Mr. Buck also talked about the use tax that the city pays to the state for the PAYT bags, nearly $60,000 per year, which he called unjust. Councilor John Tuttle, who is one of Sanford’s State Representatives, is introducing a bill to change this. He said Maine is the only state in the country that has this specific tax.

This was the first reading of the proposed amendment. A second reading will be held at the next City Council meeting on April 6.

In his City Manager’s report, Mr. Buck went over the fact sheet for Maine’s part of the American Rescue Plan. The City of Sanford is expected to receive $2.12 million and the School District will receive approximately $8 million. 50% of the funds will be delivered within 60 days of the Plan’s enactment, and the remainder within a year. Under federal guidelines, the money can be used to respond to the Covid-19 emergency and address its economic effects, including through aid to households, small businesses and nonprofits. Investments in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure are also allowed. The City is not allowed to use the funds to offset taxation. He said he “will find any and all avenues” to use the Rescue Plan funds for Sanford’s benefit.

The Council unanimously approved a Construction Management Contract for improvements to the Mid Town Mall parking lot. Community Development Director Ian Houseal described the improvements, which will include a pedestrian walkway from Main St. (next to Partners Bank) across the parking lot to the stairway that leads to the lower mall area. New lighting, benches, trees and other plantings are also in the plan. The project will be paid for by a Community Development Block Grant, with matching funds for other improvements being contributed by the mall owner. Partners Bank may also contribute funds to upgrade the walkway paving material. The work will be done this summer.

The Council accepted Anita Harris’ resignation from the Airport Advisory Committee, and thanked her for her work. The vacancy will be posted to solicit applications.

The Public Works Department’s requests for purchases of a regenerative air street sweeper with catch basic vacuum, and 10-wheel truck with plow, wing and sander, were unanimously approved.

The sales of two parcels of land at the airport, which are not needed for aviation purposes, were also approved. Sale of .82 acres to Rubb, Inc. and 5.25 acres to Flemish Master Weavers will enable both of those businesses to expand. Funds from the sale will help offset the cost of maintenance equipment for the solar project.

The Council unanimously approved revisions to the Land Bank Authority Commission’s establishing order. The revisions include adding ex officio members to provide input on the Land Bank Authority’s projects. Sanford Housing Authority Director Diane Gerry and Realtor John Caramihalis are serving in those positions. The LBA also gets input from Officer Eric Small who works with Sanford’s homeless population. Mr. Houseal told the Council that he is working with a group to authorize a state land bank, following the model that Sanford has very successfully put in place.

The Council unanimously approved an updated Disaster Aid Mutual Agreement for York County. Nothing has been changed in the agreement, but York County Emergency Management Director Art Cleaves had asked for a renewed approval as the original was very old.

Video of the full meeting can be viewed here: youtube.com/watch?v=L7VWfwYwQwA.

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