The Sanford City Council met May 3, 2022 via Zoom. Councilor Jonathan Martell was absent with notice; all other members were present.
Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio announced that the three candidates to fill the open City Council seat will be invited to the May 17 Council meeting, and each will be given five minutes of time to speak to the public on their qualifications. This is in lieu of having a Candidates’ Night.
City Manager’s Report
Board of Assessment Review: City Manager Steve Buck made a plea for volunteers to apply for positions on the Board of Assessment Review. There are currently four open seats on the six-member board. The City provides the required training. Applications are available on the City’s website at sanfordmaine.org/boardscommittees.
Online Reporting: Mr. Buck announced that the Police Department’s online reporting system is now live. See separate story.
Communications Survey: The City’s communications survey received over 450 responses. The Council will have a presentation on the results at its May 17 meeting. Many of the responses asked for the ability to sign up for text notifications from the City, and this will be possible once the City’s new website is up and running.
Mineral Extraction: The Mineral Extraction Task Force has completed its work on a draft ordinance, and is doing a final review before submitting a report to the Council.
PAARI: The Police Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative (PAARI) is a national network that provides training, strategic guidance, support and resources to help law enforcement agencies nationwide create non-arrest pathways to treatment and recovery, to reach people before they enter the criminal justice system. Mr. Buck expects our Police Department will be able to get a grant writer through PAARI for the next year, to help bring federal and state funding to the City to assist the Mental Health Unit with addiction and recovery response.
Growth Council: The Growth Council’s board of directors has gone through the first round of job applications for a new Director to replace Jim Nimon, who retired last month. The secondary process starts this week. In the interim, City staff will be providing additional support to the Growth Council office.
Springvale resident Dianne Connolly asked for a six-month review on the Police Department’s new online reporting system, to get feedback on how the system is working.
Parking Ticket Enforcement: A public hearing and first reading were held on the new proposed ordinance. See this story for more information. No members of the public spoke in favor or against the ordinance. Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy clarified that the list of streets where Sanford has a winter parking ban is not being considered to be removed from the Parking ordinance at this time, but will be discussed more fully prior to next winter, before any changes are made. The second reading will be held at the next Council meeting on May 17.
Midtown Mall: A public hearing and first reading were held on the proposals to create a Midtown Mall Municipal Development District and Midtown Mall Maintenance Assessment. See this story for more info. Kristen Collins, an attorney representing Meggs Properties LLC, the largest property owner in the Midtown Mall, spoke in opposition to the proposal. She and her client feel the share of the maintenance costs borne by the City should be larger than the proposed one-third, because part of the parking lot in the lower mall is set aside for the exclusive use of tenants of the Sanford Mill. She also said using the assessed value of the buildings may not be the fairest way to apportion the assessment. She plans to submit additional comments in writing before the second reading of the ordinance.
Marijuana License: A license renewal for Cerulean LLC, a medical marijuana grower/cultivator at 22 Smada Dr., was approved under the consent agenda with no objection.
Solar Zoning: The Council approved the second reading of a clarification of zoning text amendments association with solar projects in the Residential Development Overlay District. This clarification was necessary due to a paperwork error.
City Budget: The Council approved the municipal budget as recommended by the Budget Committee for fiscal year 2022-23.
At a budget workshop held the previous week, the Council heard details from the Fire Department on the need for a second Assistant Fire Chief to cover voids in administration and training caused by the elimination of other positions from the Department. The Council weighed two alternate scenarios. One would have funded the hiring of a Training Officer and an EMS Supervisor Officer in lieu of the second Assistant Chief. The other would have hired two additional firefighter/paramedics in lieu of the second Assistant Chief. Both scenarios would have increased the budget. Ultimately the Council decided to support the second Assistant Chief position.
Councilor Bob Stackpole pointed out that although there was little discussion at the Council meeting, the Council had scrutinized the budget in detail at the workshop and over the past several months.
The bottom line of the approved Municipal Budget is a .06% decrease in the net to be raised by taxation compared to the current year’s budget.
MDOT Permit: The Council approved a request from the Maine Department of Transportation for an Overlimit permit for construction vehicles that are over the weight limit on posted roads. The vehicles will be used in the reconstruction of three roads, including Cottage St. in Sanford. Mr. Buck said this is a common request, and that the contractor would be liable for any damage to the roads caused by the overweight vehicles.
Emergency Ordinance: The Council reapproved the emergency ordinance that allows the City Manager to sign warrants on their behalf when meetings are being held remotely. As soon as Council members begin meeting in person again, which is expected to be at its next meeting on May 17, that authority reverts back to them. (see next item)
Remote Meeting Policy: The Council approved changing its policy on remote meetings to reflect changes recommended by the US CDC. The criteria for meeting remotely will now hinge on the CDC’s declared community level of Covid-19, rather than transmission level. Community level takes multiple factors into consideration, including hospital capacity and number of new cases per 100,000 people. Under the revised policy, the Council will meet in person if the community level is low or medium in York County. If community level is high, the meeting will be held remotely. The Council’s next scheduled meeting is May 17. Community level is currently low, so they are tentatively planning to meet in person, but as case numbers are increasing, that could potentially change by then. All work sessions and subcommittee meetings will continue to be held remotely, which the Council has found to be more practical for City staff.
Future Agenda Items: Councilors asked for an update on planned road construction projects. Councilor Ayn Hanselmann requested an update on work on the Comprehensive Plan from the Planning Director, and a report from the Fire Department at the next Public Safety Subcommittee meeting.
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