The Sanford City Council met April 5, 2022 via Zoom. All members were present. Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy led the Pledge of Allegiance and asked for a moment of silence.
The minutes of some previous meetings were approved with corrections.
There were no Subcommittee reports. Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio said the Charter Review Committee is looking for citizen input. The text of the Charter and a link to submit comments are on the City’s website. The next meeting of the Charter Review Committee will be Monday, April 11 at 10:15 a.m. The meetings are streamed on YouTube and televised on Channel 26, and the public may also participate by Zoom, or attend in person.
City Manager’s Report
Workforce Development Partnership: City Manager Steve Buck said the City is entering into an agreement with the Harold Alfond Center for the Advancement of Maine’s Workforce. Funding from the Alfond Center will allow the City to offer scholarships to community colleges, frontline worker training and other benefits to any City employee.
Mineral Extraction Task Force: Mr. Buck announced the Task Force has completed its work on the terms of a new mineral extraction ordinance, which is being finalized into a draft by Planning Director Beth Della Valle. The draft ordinance will be reviewed by the City Council before going to the Planning Board for a public hearing.
Communications: The In The Know Community Information Survey will be closing this Thursday. As of April 5, 406 residents had responded. Design work on the City’s new website is progressing well.
Covid Update: Mr. Buck noted that the second booster, or fourth shot, of the Covid vaccine is available at the York County Vaccination Clinic at 1364 Main St. The second booster is available to anyone age 50+, and to people age 12+ who are moderately or severely immunocompromised. The Clinic is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:00-6:00 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. It will, however, be closed on Easter Sunday April 17.
Opioid Settlement Agreement: Deputy Police Chief Eric Small has been selected for the Opioid Recovery Council, which will oversee the distribution and expenditures of settlement funds coming to the state.
Governor’s Supplemental Budget: Mr Buck presented some highlights from the Governor’s package of changes to the budget, which include giving back more than half of the State’s surplus – $682 million – in the form of one-time $850 checks to an estimated 800,000 Mainers. The checks may be issued as early as June.
Communications and Presentations
RAISE Grant Update: Public Works Director Matt Hill reported on the status of the federal RAISE Grant which it is hoped will pay 80% of the cost of several downtown reconstruction projects. He said the increase in construction costs has resulted in the Central Park component being removed from the grant application, so that the total cost of the combined projects doesn’t exceed the maximum $25 million. The remaining components include: Route 109/Main St. from Lebanon St. to Emery St.; Washington St.; School St. from Washington to Elm St.; Route 202/Cottage St. from River St. to the Urban Compact line; William Oscar Emery Dr.; Riverside Ave.; and the Emerson & Main St. Park and Ride. The schedule for the work has also been delayed. It was originally scheduled to begin in 2024, but that has been changed to 2026, with completion in 2030. The City will be notified in August or September if the grant money will be awarded. Mayor Mastraccio asked for more information on how other road construction projects in the City will be affected by the grant being received or not received. Mr. Buck said the five-year road plan will be fleshed out with that information.
Potholes: Mr. Hill said residents can report potholes that need to be filled by calling the Public Works Department at 324-9135. Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. You can also call after hours and leave a message.
Public Participation: There was no public comment for items not on the agenda.
License Renewal: A hearing was held on the renewal of a medical marijuana grower/cultivator license for Mr. Green Thumb, 72 Emery St., Unit 407. No one spoke in favor or against. The renewal was granted under the consent agenda.
TIF District: A hearing was held on a proposed Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district for the Upper Nasson Apartments project. See separate story.
Adult Use Marijuana: A hearing was held on proposed changes to the zoning ordinance that would allow the retail sale of adult-use marijuana in the City. Lindsay Holden of Landrace Cannabis spoke in favor of the changes. Her company operates a medical marijuana dispensary and adult-use cultivation and manufacturing facility at 22 Smada Dr., as well as adult-use retail stores in Portland and Hollis. She spoke about the state regulation of the businesses, and the extensive security procedures they follow.
Calvin Akers, a co-owner of Wisely Cannabis at 81 Industrial Ave., also spoke in favor of the proposal, saying it would provide safe access to cannabis for responsible adults. He addressed concerns raised at the previous hearing on March 15 about social equity in Sanford’s cannabis industry. Mr. Akers, who is African-American, said “The City has done an incredible job” of being relatively inclusive, and that Sanford probably has the most diverse group of cannabis business operators in the state of Maine. He said the City should be proud that the industry here is largely comprised of operators who started small and thrived, and is not dominated by large-scale multi-state companies, as is the case elsewhere.
Isaac Ellowitz, who operates at 72 Emery St., said Sanford is the best place in the state to locate a cannabis business because of the well-thought-out way the ordinances were crafted, and that limiting where businesses could locate in the City has prevented it from becoming “a cannabis mecca.” He added that if the five properties being considered to allow adult-use retail sales are approved, “you would not even really notice the difference from the existing operations.”
Springvale resident Dianne Connolly spoke against the proposal, requesting that instead of granting up to five licenses for adult-use retail sales, the City limit it to two licenses, with none in the downtown area.
Later in the meeting, the Council briefly discussed the proposal. Councilor Ayn Hanselmann said the Council and Planning Board had agreed to limit the licenses to one for each of the five zoned properties, but that was not specified in the amendment. Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy agreed that it needed clarification.
The second reading of the proposed zoning amendments will be held at the next Council meeting on April 19. (Mr. Buck explained that an error in the advertisement for the original public hearing resulted in the first reading of the proposed changes being repeated at this meeting.)
Tax Abatement: The Council voted to abate the City’s taxes on the property recently purchased from Springvale Nurseries at 1274 and 1280 Main St., where a new Fire Station is proposed to be constructed.
Airport Pickup Truck: The Council voted to accept the bid of $69,150 from Arundel Ford for a Ford F350 4X4 pickup truck with plow and sander, for use at the Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport. Airport Manager Allison Navia explained that the new truck will replace one that is 22 years old and will no longer pass inspection. There will be no impact to taxpayers. The purchase will be paid for with federal Covid relief grants and a projected small amount of surplus from this year’s budget due to the mild winter.
Airport Layout Plan Update: The Council approved a contract with McFarland Johnson for $163,200 to perform an update of the Airport’s layout plan. 90% of the cost will come from the Federal Aviation Administration, 5% from the Maine Department of Transportation, and 5% from the Airport’s Capital Improvements budget. Ms. Navia said the update is badly needed due to the rapid expansion at the Airport.
Pilot’s Cove Concerts: The Council approved two concerts to be held at the Airport, and sponsored by Pilot’s Cove Café. Ms. Navia said she and owner Dan Bowden have met with the Police, Fire and Code Enforcement Departments to coordinate the events, which are:
- Saturday, June 11: Jimmy Kenny and the Pirate Beach Band, a tribute to Jimmy Buffett and Kenny Chesney
- Thursday, June 16: Collie Buddz, a Bermudian reggae artist
The targeted capacity for each concert is 200-300 people and admission is 21+. Tickets will be available through EventBrite. Parking will be at the Airport and at the Eldredge Lumber parking lot which is currently under construction. The concerts are planned to run from 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. to avoid any conflicts with the City’s noise ordinance. If these events are successful and well-managed, others may be scheduled.
Midtown Mall Lighting: The Council voted to accept the $53,000 bid from Affinity LED for parking area lighting at the Midtown Mall. About a quarter of the City’s entire streetlight budget goes to just 24 high-pressure sodium lights at the Mall, so changing them out will reduce future electrical costs considerably. The poles in the upper lot will be changed as well as the fixtures, to blend with the poles that were installed last year along the new walkway. The work is expected to be done in June if the poles are received by then. Partners Bank is paying for the lighting changeover as its share of the matching funds for the Midtown Mall parking lot project.
Budgets: Wesley Davie joined the meeting to present the 2022-23 municipal and school budgets as recommended by the Budget Committee, which he chairs. He detailed the unique situation the City faced this year, with an abundance of federal funding and grant money to pay for certain items. He said the Budget Committee’s goal was to utilize those funds while minimizing impacts in future years, after the funding goes away.
As there were many agenda items still to get through, Mayor Mastraccio suggested the Council not take any action on the proposed municipal budget, but instead hold a separate workshop where they could discuss it. She said it might also be a good idea to hold off making a decision until after the State Legislature wraps up the state’s budget on April 20. The rest of the Council agreed, and voted to table the municipal budget until a later date.
After lengthy debate, the Council approved the School Budget as recommended. See separate story.
Brownfields Bond: The Council voted 5-1 to authorize a $1 million bond to provide matching funds for a $5 million EPA Brownfields Cleanup grant to support redevelopment activities in the mill yard. The funds would pay primarily for demolition of the International Woolen Company boiler house and construction of a new parking lot. Councilor Hanselmann was the sole vote in opposition. The voters will have the final say on this bond in November.
Airport Bond: The Council voted unanimously to approve a $250,000 bond to provide cash flow for Phase II of the Presidential Lane construction at the Airport. As hangars are built, developers pay $47,000 each to connect to the utilities along the road. Ms. Navia said she already has interested parties. Bonds of this amount do not need voter approval.
York County Budget Delegate: The Council discussed whether to send one or more delegates to the caucuses at which York County Budget Committee members will be selected by elected officials from across the county. Each district is allowed three members, including two elected officials and one member of the public. Each one of the three has to be from a different municipality. Sanford is in District #4, which also includes Alfred, Dayton, Limerick, Lyman and Waterboro. Mayor Mastraccio indicated they will send at least one delegate.
Vacant Council Seat: see separate story.
Dangerous Buildings: see separate story.
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