City Council 7/6 Meeting Summary

The City Council wraps up what members hope will be their final Zoom meeting.

All Councilors were present. Councilor Jonathan Martell led the Pledge of Allegiance and asked for a moment of silence.

In her report, Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio thanked Lorisa Ricketts, the City Manager’s Executive Assistant, for her excellent work in compiling the Council’s minutes. She announced that the next Council meeting will be held in person at the Council Chambers in City Hall. Attendees are welcome, but she asked that anyone who has not had the Covid-19 vaccine wear a face covering. The public will also be able to Zoom into the meeting, or watch live on YouTube or channel 26.

There were no Subcommittee reports, as the Subcommittees did not meet last week.

In his report, City Manager Steven Buck gave an update on the pandemic. He said statistics are showing that 99.2% of the recent Covid deaths in the country are among unvaccinated people. There were zero new cases in Maine on the previous day, July 5, and zero deaths. 66.75% of the state population age 12 and over have been fully vaccinated. The York County number is 65.6%. In Sanford and Springvale, 75% of eligible residents have had the vaccine. The total number of cases of Covid in our community is 1,790, as of June 28, which represents 8.5% of our population.

Mr. Buck gave an update on the work to get the Council Chambers ready for hybrid participation in Council meetings. There has been difficulty getting parts and equipment, as well as service to install the technology. He is still estimating that the system will be ready in time for the July 20 Council meeting. He asked for the public’s patience as they work to get everything running smoothly. The current state law allowing the Council to meet remotely is in effect until July 30. There is work being done on a new law that will allow Councilors to Zoom into meetings in certain circumstances.

Mr. Buck reported that concerns were raised last week regarding 99 High St. The City has issued several notices of violation for property maintenance and dangerous conditions over the past two years. A resident was recently arrested on drug charges. The owner is now working to control and secure the property, and is addressing the number of calls with the Police Department.

Mr. Buck spoke about the fireworks display on July 5. The delay of nearly an hour before it started was due to an electronics failure. The company running things, Central Maine Pyrotechnics, had to reprogram the entire array to correct the issue. An estimated 5,000 people attended. He said Parks and Recreation staff wished there were a way to communicate live with attendees when problems like this arise. He read an email from 77-year-old resident Mary Baxter, thanking the City for the wonderful display which she could see from her window.

Councilor Luke Lanigan added his praise of the event and suggested a text messaging system or phone app like the one used by the Sanford School Department to communicate instantly with residents. Mr. Buck said the City’s new Communications Director might be able to spearhead that effort.

Mr. Buck reported on the follow up to the joint land use study that recommended a park and ride location in Sanford to serve commuters to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and other employers. The Public Works Department is designing a 100-car facility that will be located behind Cumberland Farms on Main St., and utilize the existing traffic light. Cost estimates and a letter of support from the Council must be sent to Maine DOT by September 1 for the project to be included in the 2022 construction schedule.

Mr. Buck announced that the supplemental budget adopted by the Maine State Legislature increases revenue sharing to 4.5% this year, as anticipated, with an increase to 5% the following year. The amount the School Department will receive for Essential Programs and Services (EPS) has increased to 55%. Revised estimates have not been received yet, but this may result in more funding than was planned in the budget. If so, the Council could adopt this additional revenue at its next meeting, to reduce taxes.

There was no public participation.

A public hearing was held on a new application by Pine Tree Maine 4 LLC, for an adult use marijuana manufacturing Tier 1 license, at 22 Smada Dr. There were no comments in favor or against. The license was granted. Approval was also granted to the Sanford Elks Lodge to continue operating beano/bingo games for another year.

The second reading of the proposed False Alarm ordinance was held. The ordinance had been reviewed by the Public Safety Subcommittee since the first reading, but no changes were deemed necessary. Councilor Lanigan expressed concern that the ordinance would be applied fairly to all. Mr. Buck explained that the false alarm calls are tracked through the Police Department’s incident management system, and reconciled on a monthly basis. The ordinance was adopted on a unanimous vote.

The Council approved a one-time license for Above and Beyond Catering’s Gin Tin Mobile Bar, to be at the Mainers’ game at Goodall Park on July 13. Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy explained that it is for Partners Bank night, and the Bank does this for their employees each year.

The Council approved outsourcing some work on the City’s Comprehensive Plan to the Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission. The fee for work on data collection, and creation of tables and related graphics will not exceed $7,000. This item was discussed at the previous Council meeting when the budget was adopted.

The Council voted unanimously to accept the bid from McKay Construction for the extension of Presidential Lane at the Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport. Airport Manager Allison Navia explained that this is part of a multi-phase project which includes underground utilities and almost 1,400 feet of roadway. The bid of $856,246 will be expended over multiple years.

In a separate item, the Council approved the contract with McKay for $268,271. This is for the first phase of the project, which will construct a little more than half of the roadway, with utilities extended to two new large hangars being built this year.

Councilors Lanigan and Martell said they toured the Airport recently and encouraged other Councilors to do the same, to get a better idea of the scope of progress happening there. Councilor Lanigan called it the result of good planning and great vision. Ms. Navia said she is hoping to have an open house toward the end of the summer.

The Council approved a contract with Comprehensive Land Technologies for tree clearing on the CGA solar project site. Planning Director Beth Della Valle explained this is the first part of the work needed to clean up this brownfields site on New Dam Rd. The second part will involve removing noncontaminated solid waste from the site. Once both of these are completed, the City can begin the cleanup of the contaminated material from the site. Public Works Director Matt Hill told the Council that, because the construction industry is so hot right now, they were only able to get one bid on the project despite reaching out to several contractors. He said it is a decent proposal to get the project moving forward and create another city-owned solar facility. Mr. Buck added that he will be requesting to use funds from the American Rescue Plan to finish the project, which will produce significant tax revenue for the City.

The Council voted unanimously to terminate the Emergency Proclamation related to Covid-19 that was declared on March 24, 2020. All Covid restrictions were previously lifted at City Hall, but Mayor Mastraccio indicated that face coverings are still recommended for unvaccinated persons. Councilor John Tuttle said that even though the pandemic is not over, “I’m very proud of our community…we have done our duty in helping to solve the greatest health issue of my lifetime.”

The Council voted unanimously to approve an amendment to its Rules and Order of Business, also known as the Rules of Procedure. The new language will require Councilors who cannot attend a Subcommittee meeting to notify the Mayor, who will appoint a temporary replacement. Councilor Lanigan asked if replacements could be appointed on a rotational basis to make sure all Councilors have an opportunity. Mayor Mastraccio responded that it would depend more on who could step up at the last minute. “Some people respond to their text messages and some don’t,” she said. Council members will sign the updated Rules and Order of Business at their next meeting.

Under Councilor Comments, Councilor Ayn Hanselmann gave a shoutout to the Parks and Rec, Fire and Police Departments for the fireworks display. Councilor Tuttle said he received a call from the City Clerk about an elderly woman who said she was told by Atlantic Broadband that she couldn’t just get cable, she had to get internet as well, which she doesn’t need. He asked if that could be looked into. He also mentioned the passing of George Driscoll, former Fire Chief. He would like to have Fire Chief Benotti prepare a statement of recognition which he could present to the Legislature.

Under Future Agenda Items, Councilor Lanigan asked if the Solid Waste Subcommittee could take up the issue of the lack of trash receptacles at drive through restaurants, which he feels is contributing to litter in the City. Councilor Bob Stackpole, who chairs that Subcommittee, said they will take a look at it.