The Alexson’s Cleaners building, formerly located at 46 High St. Photo credit: Google (2018).
The Sanford City Council met June 20, 2023. The meeting started 45 minutes late due to an executive session held beforehand.
Councilor Ayn Hanselmann was absent with notice, all others were present.
The minutes of the June 6 meetings were approved.
Mayor Becky Brink announced that, due to the July 4th holiday, next month’s Council meetings will be held on July 11 and July 18.
Zoning: Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy reported that the Zoning Subcommittee discussed comments from the public hearing on short-term rental licensing and made no changes to the proposed ordinance, but she noted that changes could be made to the ordinance after it is enacted if they are needed. The Subcommittee also discussed campers and other recreational vehicles parked on private property. Work has begun on a proposed ordinance to regulate these. One of the concerns is the danger to individuals who are heating RVs to use as living space during the winter months.
Public Safety: see this story for details of the Police Department reports heard by the Public Safety Subcommittee last week, and this story for details on reports from the Fire Department. It was noted that unhoused individuals have nowhere to go during the day, due to the closure of the Peer Center on Washington St. Councilor Jonathan Martell said the Peer Center is trying to find a new location and hopes to be open again soon.
City Manager’s Report
City Manager Steve Buck did not have a formal report, but shared that Senator Susan Collins will be in Sanford on Friday, June 23. She will spend two hours meeting with City officials to learn about how Sanford is making use of federal funds, the impact of the asylum seekers, and other topics.
Communications & Presentations
Airport Fireworks: Allison Navia, Manager of the Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport, announced that the third annual fireworks show organized by Pilot’s Cove Café will take place Saturday, July 1, with a rain date of July 8. Many local individuals and businesses pitched in to sponsor the event. Pilot’s Cove will have a live country music band at the Runaway (tickets are available here, but the fireworks are free for anyone to come and watch. The Airport will be closed for an hour for the 20-minute fireworks show and the cleanup afterward.
Public Participation: South Sanford resident Shelby Smith spoke about two issues of concern. He said the crack filler that is used on the roads is very slick and dangerous for motorcycles, and asked if there is a way to add something to make it grippier. He is also concerned about noise from the shooting range, which starts as early at 6:30 am. He described himself as a gun owner who enjoys the sport, but asked if there is some kind of noise remediation that could be installed to give homeowners in that end of town some peace, especially those who work from home as he does.
Cannabis Grower: A public hearing was held on a new application by Sunshine Gardens LLC for a medical cannabis grower/cultivator license at 72 Emery St., Unit 403. No one spoke in favor or against.
Liquor License: A public hearing was held on a new application for a liquor license by MGILL Enterprises LLC, d/b/a River Junction Brewing Co. The company formerly known as Riverstone Brewing is opening a taproom at 1491 Main St. (the former Shain’s Restaurant). The Council encouraged owner Michael Gill to come to the podium and talk about his business. He said they have put a lot of hard work into renovating the restaurant and he is excited for the community to check out their selection of ales, lagers and more. Non-alcoholic beverages will also be served. He has plans to eventually move the brewery out of his garage and to the Main St. location as well. (Read this past article for more info.)
Consent agenda: The two license applications described above, and an off-premises license for Cruisin’ Infusions to serve alcohol at the Mainers game on July 15, were approved without objection.
Overnight Parking: The Council approved ordinance changes making permanent the emergency measures approved in March regarding overnight parking and providing alternate off-street parking locations during snow emergencies. Under the ordinance, parking between the hours of 11:00 pm and 5:00 am is prohibited at any City parks, malls, school properties or cemeteries; and between 2:00 am and 5:00 am at the School St. lot, unless specific permission is granted by the Council or its designee. During Winter Snow Removal Parking Bans, parking will be allowed at the Heritage Drive parking lot and the Benton Park lot off Roberts St. Parked vehicles must be removed within two hours of the end of the Parking Ban.
Tax-Acquired Property: The Council voted to receive from the City Treasurer the property at 46 High St. due to the nonpayment of 2020 and 2021 property tax liens. The liens matured on February 10, at which time certified mail letters were sent to the property owner, High Street Rental Property LLC of Limerick, giving them an additional 30 days to redeem the property. No response was received. 46 High St. was formerly the location of Alexson’s Cleaners, which was demolished several years ago. At the June 13 Property Subcommittee meeting, Director of Community Development Ian Houseal said he will be looking into future uses of the sloped lot, including possible development or use as a parking lot. A Brownfields assessment will protect the City from any liability for environmental contamination of the property.
Banking Services: The Council voted to extend the current banking services agreement with Camden National Bank for another three years, expiring June 30, 2026. Mr. Buck said Camden has provided exceptional service, and the City would not be able to get the same services at the same price if the contract was put out to bid.
Utilities: The Council voted to affirm a fixed-price electricity contract with Maine Power Options at $0.1021/kWh for 12 months beginning in November 2023, and a fixed-price fuel oil contract with Dead River Company for 25,000 gallons of #2 heating oil at $2.6714/gallon. These prices are about a third lower than the previous contract. Facilities Director Alex Hammerle recommended keeping the contract terms short, as electricity and fuel oil prices may drop again next year.
Dangerous Building: The Council voted to authorize any and all actions, legal or equitable, against the property owner and parties in interest of the multi-family home at 11 Kimball St. that may be appropriate or necessary, including injunctions of violations and the imposition of fines and penalties, to enforce City ordinances and building codes. In a May 16 letter from Code Enforcement Officer Aaron Lederer to property owner Alton Rollinsford LLC, he wrote that the owner has allowed two units of the building to become reoccupied that were supposed to remain vacant until repairs were completed to make the building safe for habitation, stating “you are putting the lives of the occupants and emergency responders at risk.” Mr. Houseal told the Council that the home, which was declared a Dangerous Building by the Council last year, has a clear plan for re-occupancy but the owner refuses to stick to it, instead using the Board of Appeals and the legal system to delay the process. Mr. Houseal said this type of legal action by the City against a property owner is rare, but “this sends a message to the owner that we have had enough…the legal circles have to come to an end.” Mayor Brink thanked him and his team for all the work done on this case. (The Council’s packet included 443 pages of backup material.)
Software: The Council voted to authorize a subscription agreement for Granicus EngagementHQ software for project development and dissemination of information to the public. The subscription has a one-time implementation fee of $2,500, and an annual subscription cost of $11,250, which will come from the marketing budget. Communications Coordinator Jordan Wilson said this new software will improve the City’s website by expanding the project pages to be more engaging and interactive for the public. She plans to use it for several of the City’s current and upcoming projects, including the RAISE Grant reconstruction, the new fire stations and the Comprehensive Plan. In her survey of Sanford residents, 71% said Q&A sections would be helpful on the project pages, but those are not easy to add with our current system. She said implementation of EngagementHQ is quick and easy, and the software is half the price of another one she looked at. Granicus will provide content moderation 24/7 to protect the website from hate speech and trolling. Mr. Buck said the new software will allow residents to engage with the City on their own schedules, and called it “a phenomenal tool.”
Pay As You Throw: The Council voted 5-1 to extend the contract with Waste Zero, the manufacturer and distributor of the orange PAYT trash bags, for two more years. Mr. Buck said while the cost of hauling and solid waste disposal has gone up, the cost to dispose of recyclables has decreased significantly, so the price of the orange trash bags to consumers will stay the same, at least for the first year, and no adjustment to this year’s budget will be needed. He explained for the benefit of viewers that when you purchase the PAYT bags, you are not paying for the cost of the bag, you are paying the cost of disposing what is in the bag, which includes curbside collection, disposal of solid waste, and sorting and disposal of recyclables. You pay for these services by purchasing the bags, rather than through your property tax bill. Councilor Pete Tranchemontagne said the City does not profit from the sale of the bags, and that using PAYT keeps taxes lower. Councilor Martell said he still hears complaints about the quality of the bags. Mr. Buck said any defective bags may be returned to the Public Works Department for a refund, and he encouraged residents to do this, because the manufacturer can’t address problems they don’t know about. Councilor Martell cast the sole opposing vote against extending the contract.
Collective Bargaining: The Council ratified new three-year collective bargaining agreements with the Sanford Police Association and Sanford Fire Fighters Association. The new contracts will expire June 30, 2026. The contracts will be posted on the City’s website at https://www.sanfordmaine.org/departments/human_resources/new_page.php.
Fire Marshal: The Council voted to amend City ordinances to remove references to the Fire Marshal and reflect reassignment of responsibilities once the position of Fire Marshal is eliminated beginning July 1.
- Councilor Nate Hitchcock reported that Sanford Mainers team members who have come from out of state have been impressed with the community support and community spirit here in Sanford.
- Councilor Tranchemontagne wanted to let kids know to enjoy their summer “but be good.”
- Deputy Mayor Herlihy said Becca Lapierre is still looking for volunteers to work at Mainers’ games in various positions, including selling lucky tickets, which gives you the best view of the game, as well as free admission and snacks. She also said it was her Dad’s 85th birthday that day and he is doing well, but “shocked to be 85.”