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All Councilors were present except John Tuttle, who was in Augusta with the state Legislature.

Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio led the Pledge of Allegiance and asked for a moment of silence in memory of Richard Burgess and his wife Ida, who were being buried at the Veterans Cemetery on Wednesday.

Because of the very lengthy agenda, the Mayor’s report and Subcommittee reports were skipped.

City Manager Steven Buck reported the new Mineral Extraction Task Force met for the first time on Monday, June 14, and got more done in that meeting than has been accomplished in the previous year. The Task Force members have come to an agreement that in place of the current five-year permit renewal process, applicants will instead submit a new site plan application, followed by annual inspections. (The annual inspections, done by a third party, were previously approved by the Council in April.) The Task Force is also discussing how LiDAR technology may be used to enable pit operators as well as the City to see the impacts of multiple gravel pits in the same area.

He also reported that the Rail Trail Task Force will meet for the second time on June 22, and said they are making good progress as well.

Mr. Buck reported that interviews for Sanford’s next police chief will begin on June 29. The top five applicants will be interviewed. He is also working on developing the job description for a new communications/marketing position for the City. The Council has the authority to create the position, if it is funded in the municipal budget.

He showed photos of the work that has been done at Holdsworth Park to create grassy terraces to control erosion, as well as providing great seating areas for families using the beach area. He thanked Parks Director Brian Desrochers and the contractor, R. J. Grondin & Sons, for their work, calling it a great improvement to the Park.

Diane Gerry, Executive Director of the Sanford Housing Authority, and Kim LaChance, Chair of the Board of Directors, presented their annual report. See separate story.

Ian Houseal, Sanford’s Director of Community Development, gave his annual report on the Land Bank Authority, which works to improve the City’s housing stock. Licensing of rental units and vacant properties funds two code enforcement officers, who inspect properties and handle complaints. Mr. Houseal explained that this work benefits the entire community, because when multi-unit buildings fall into disrepair, it lowers their values, and this puts a greater tax burden on single family homeowners to make up the difference. The Land Bank Commission oversees a revolving fund used to bring vacant and abandoned properties back into productive use, either through a rehab plan or by demolition and sale.

The Land Bank’s activities this past year have included focusing on Sanford’s two-unit properties, and getting those rentals licensed. Some that are being used as single-family homes have been recategorized through assessing. A Target Market Analysis of several area communities showed that over a third of Sanford residents moved in 2019, which he said is concerning. After a year of decreased activity due to the pandemic, the Land Bank is now actively working again to abate the dangerous properties in the City, with two demolitions completed so far this year, and two rehab plans underway. Mr. Houseal added that, along with building new units, the rental housing shortage can also be addressed by bringing vacant properties back into use.

In a separate agenda item, the Council accepted the bid for demolition of the property at 10 Brook St., which the Land Bank Commission has been working toward for several years. Green Shadow Landscaping, LLC, of Rollinsford, NH, was the low bidder at $10,125. This is for the demolition only, disposal is a separate item. Demolition is expected to take place within the next month to six weeks.

Recreation Director Lori Hegarty spoke about the Eastern Region Water Ski Championships that will be held at Number One Pond on Saturday and Sunday, July 24 and 25. The first day will be for individual competition. On Sunday, Sanford’s own Maine Attraction Water Ski Team will compete against teams from New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut. She showed a short video of the team in action.

The Council voted to approve the closure of William Oscar Emery Dr. from Lincoln St. to Front St. for the event. The road closure will be on Sunday only, when a crowd of 1,500 people is expected.

Mr. Buck had anticipated discussing how Sanford can best utilize the $2.12 million of American Rescue Plan funds that the City is scheduled to receive, but said guidance from the state and federal governments is still being updated. In addition, York County will be receiving funds, some of which may be put to use in Sanford, but those decisions have not yet been made.

Under Public Participation, Fire Chief Steve Benotti announced that, following a lengthy illness, former Chief George Driscoll passed away at his home over the past weekend. Chief Driscoll retired from the Sanford Fire Department in 1982. Calling hours will be held Friday, June 18th from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Autumn Green Funeral Home in Alfred. A funeral service will be held Saturday, June 19, at St. Ignatius Parish Hall on Riverside Ave. at 10:00 a.m., followed by a procession to the Sanford Fire Department Central Station for the Firefighters Last Call. (Read his obituary here.)

A public hearing was held on a new ordinance which will allow the Sanford Police Department to collect fines from residents and businesses for repeated false alarms to their properties. The Fire Department already has a similar ordinance. This was the first reading of the ordinance. Deputy Police Chief Craig Andersen emphasized that this ordinance does not apply to false alarms on city or school property. The ordinance will go back to the Public Safety Subcommittee to address some questions which were raised, before coming back to the Council for a second reading.

The Council approved a new medical marijuana grower/cultivator license for High Noon Farms, LLC, at 12 Smada Dr.

A liquor license for Sweet Memories, 937 Main St., was also approved. (The owner still has to get state approval before serving alcohol.)

There was some discussion on the municipal budget. Mr. Buck went over a summary of the proposed budget and several proposed amendments. Councilor Luke Lanigan asked if the Chamber of Commerce funds, that are proposed to be cut, might be kept in the budget if the revenue forecast from the state is positive. Mayor Mastraccio said each item will be discussed and voted on next week. The Council has scheduled a special meeting to vote on the budget June 22. However, she said it is not clear that the state Legislature will have finalized the state budget by then.

Goodall Library Director Chip Schrader presented the plans for the expansion and renovation of the Library. See previous story. The Council approved the concept, while making it clear they were not committing to any funding. Mr. Schrader hopes to get full funding of the project through several grants.

The Council approved the due dates and delinquent interest rate for real estate and personal property taxes. The first installment is due September 15, with the second installment due March 15, 2022. The interest rate for late payments was set at 6%, which will begin to accrue on March 16, 2022.

The Council approved the road closures for the July 3 water ski show and fireworks at Number One Pond. (Full details will be published next week.)

The Council voted to approve a new Memorandum of Understanding governing the Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council. Some important changes have been made since the previous MOU. The Growth Council was previously a three-member organization, consisting of the City, the Industrial Development Corporation, and the Chamber of Commerce. In the new MOU, there will be four members, two from the City and two from the IDC, with the Chamber eliminated. The five-member Board of Directors will expand to nine members. Another important change is the addition of a Small Business Advocate position, which will enable the Executive Director to focus on larger businesses. The amount the IDC contributes to the funding of Growth Council operations will increase to $25,000 annually for the next two years. The Executive Director will report to the City Council in Executive Session, which will enable him to be able to share confidential information which could not be discussed in his previous reports at public City Council meetings.

The Council ratified a new three-year collective bargaining agreement with AFSCME Council 93 General Services Union, which represents many city employees. Mr. Buck did not go through all the details, as the Council had previously reviewed the agreement in executive session. He called the negotiations with the union “exceptionally positive” and “very amicable.”

After long and contentious debate, the Council voted to approve amending its Rules and Order of Business, also known as the Rules of Procedure, by a vote of 4-2. See separate story.

Mayor Mastraccio announced that the Council will go back to meeting in person beginning with the second meeting in July. Under future agenda items, she requested a discussion at the Municipal Operations and Property Subcommittee about the upkeep of Soldiers and Sailors Park.

 The full meeting video can be viewed here.

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