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Attorney Kristin Collins spoke to the Council about issues her clients have had with Sanford's Planning Department.

Councilor Bob Stackpole led the pledge of allegiance and asked for a moment of silence.

In her report, Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio said the proposed revisions to the Council’s Rules and Order of Business, which had been debated at the previous meeting, did not pass the legal review, so the document is not ready for approval. It will be taken up again at a future meeting.

Councilor Stackpole gave an update on last week’s Zoning and Solid Waste Subcommittee meetings. At Zoning, the major focus was on the retail adult use marijuana ordinance. The Subcommittee has determined that they need to devote more time to the subject so, going forward, will devote at least the first half of each meeting to it.

Under Solid Waste, they talked about the problem of litter in Sanford. It was noted that a major contributor to the problem is recyclables that get blown around on windy days. “There will be some days when recyclables probably should not be put out,” Mr. Stackpole said. He asked residents to consider holding on to recyclables until the following week, if the weather is particularly windy.

Councilor Ayn Hanselmann spoke to the Subcommittee about other suggestions for keeping litter under control, including semi-annual community cleanup days, and “adopt an area” concepts. She is putting together a package of marketing ideas for the Subcommittee members to consider at their next meeting.

In his report, City Manager Steven Buck went over the latest Covid statistics. There is a new tool on the state’s website to track Covid vaccinations by zip code (https://www.maine.gov/covid19/vaccines/dashboard/rates-by-zip). More than 60% of Sanford and Springvale residents have received at least the first dose of the vaccine. Councilor Hanselmann pointed out that if you miss your second vaccine appointment, you can walk in to the Sanford clinic any time they are open and get your shot.

Mr. Buck also reported that the Westside Village reconstruction, which will include Kimball and Prescott Streets and parts of Shaw Street and Twombley Road, is out to bid, but the bids are all higher than the estimates. He is looking at options including breaking the project down into smaller segments, and shifting resources from other projects, to get it done during this construction season.

Mr. Buck went over how the City Budget could be impacted if the legislature approves an increase in revenue sharing from the current 3.75% to 4.5% or 5%. He is looking closely at the Mills administrations plans for spending federal stimulus funds. “I want to go through and make sure we are not spending any of our money when we could tap into state money,” he said.

He also reported that the speed enforcement action being undertaken by the city’s Public Works and Police Departments may be eligible for 80% funding to pay for the overtime hours it will involve. The Police Department is also applying for a distracted driving enforcement grant. The city will know by June 1 if the funds have been awarded.

Mr. Buck concluded his report by congratulating Sanford High School/SRTC on winning two American Institute of Architects design awards. There is a great video about the design process here: https://youtu.be/e9JC0ITzHiM.

Under public participation, Kristin Collins, an attorney for the firm of Preti Flaherty in Augusta, spoke to the Council. She is serving as an unofficial spokesperson for eight businesses who have experienced problems trying to get applications through the planning process in Sanford. She said it is taking applicants up to two years and, compared to other communities, costing up to twenty times more to get projects approved here. She called the attitude in the Planning Department “more obstructionist than helpful,” and said staff has refused to accept information provided by experts, and also appears to deliberately attempt to drum up opposition to an application. She asked the Council to take it up at a future meeting, to figure out how to make real improvements.

Springvale resident Dianne Connolly asked if there was an investigation into Saturday night’s brush fire, and if the landowners around the area would be notified of any results from such an investigation.

The Council approved a renewal of a medical marijuana grower/cultivator license for C & M Farms, 27 Hancock Lane. A new medical marijuana property license was granted to Akers Real Estate Management, which will lease space to other companies at 12 Smada Drive.

A public hearing was held on the School Department’s 2021-2022 budget, which will go to voters on Tuesday, June 8. Superintendent of Schools Matt Nelson gave a brief overview of how the proposed budget evolved during the several month long budget process. The bottom line is a net taxation increase of 1.7%; however, Mr. Nelson said the $840,000 the Department expects to get from the state if revenue sharing is increased will be put toward tax relief, not added to the budget. “We have a budget here that meets our needs,” he said.

Mr. Nelson also spoke about his concerns for the 2022-2023 budget. The combination of decreased student enrollment, a change in student/teacher ratio, and the increase in valuation could potentially result in a loss of $1.3 million in state subsidy unless things change.

The Council unanimously approved the cable TV franchise agreement with Comcast. See our previous story. There were two amendments made to the agreement since the previous presentation. The first is that Comcast and the city have agreed to language providing that, in the unlikely event that Comcast abandons its infrastructure, the city may take ownership of it without going to court. The second is that Comcast will not be required to defend the city from any legal action arising from the franchise agreement.

Springvale resident Lee Burnett spoke about the franchise fee revenue that will come to the city under the agreement. He said it should be put directly toward increasing staffing and programming at WSSR-TV in order to make it a true public access channel. He explained that it could be used not only for entertainment, but to advance the City Council’s priorities and magnify its initiatives. “It would add a lot to the life of the community,” he said.

The Council approved the appointment of David Caswell to the Airport Advisory Committee. Mr. Caswell is a licensed commercial pilot as well as a glider pilot. He is a retired federal OSHA safety and health manager, and a retired officer in the NH Air National Guard.

Appointment of the Rail Trail Task Force was on the agenda. However, Mayor Mastraccio said she is still waiting to hear back from some people, and once that happens all the names will be released. Dave Parent will chair the Task Force.

The Mineral Extraction Task Force was also scheduled to be appointed, however, that too is awaiting final confirmation from members.

Dangerous building hearings were held for three Sanford properties. See separate story.

Councilor Stackpole encouraged residents to recycle cardboard and paper rather than burning it in fire pits, as the city derives some revenue from the sale of these recyclables.

Under future agenda items, Councilor John Tuttle asked that the Council consider making the Airport Advisory Committee a full Council Subcommittee. He said there are issues that need to be addressed for the Airport to move forward.

The full City Council meeting video can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-_zEi2sQXs

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