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Chief Andersen promoted officers Colleen Adams, Everett Allen, Matthew Begin, and Christopher Brown (pictured left to right) to the rank of sergeant.  

By Zendelle Bouchard 

The Sanford City Council met September 5, 2023. All members were present. 

Mayor’s Report 

Mayor Becky Brink reported on the recent passing of former Police Chief Tom Jones. She outlined some of his accomplishments as Chief, which included the formation of the Strategic Response Team and institution of the SPD’s partnership with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, and thanked him for his service. Read his full obituary here:

City Manager’s Report 

Growth Council Renovations: City Manager Steve Buck reported the long-awaited remodeling of the future Main Street office of the Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council, formerly occupied by the Chamber of Commerce, is expected to start “in the very near future.” The original remodeling plan involved removing several interior walls to create three new rooms; however, bids for the work far exceeded the planned budget. The new plan will require demolition of a single wall to create a large front conference space, with only minimal changes to utilities. The Growth Council’s current space in the rear will be retained. Facilities Director Alex Hammerle expects to do most of the work using City staff. 

Reimbursements: Buck announced the City will be receiving a dividend check of $45,006 from the Maine Municipal Association’s Workers’ Comp Fund, as the City’s loss ratio was under 40% for the year, and under 75% during the past three years. He said the hard work of the Safety Committee and department managers is responsible for this great result. He expects the City to see a 10% reduction in the assessment for next year as well. The City is also in line for a $20,000 reimbursement from the state for costs incurred in developing ordinances for adult-use cannabis stores. The City spent almost $75,000 over a three-year period in staff time as well as legal fees to develop its adult-use retail ordinance. 

Assessing Update: The City’s tax commitment is done, and Buck said the new software being used by the Assessing Department offers much more functionality for reporting and predicting tax revenue. He will be meeting with staff later this week to see where some duties may need to be reassigned as the new system has streamlined operations to a great degree over the previous, antiquated system. 

Asylum Seekers: Buck provided an update on the asylum-seeking families that came to Sanford over the summer. Including the children of these families, the Sanford School District now has over 100 students whose primary language is other than English. The City did not see an influx in new General Assistance applications after the closure of the Portland Expo, as had been expected. Families are being helped to apply for heating assistance and affordable internet. He will have all the numbers for August in his report at the September 19 Council meeting. 

Resident Homeless Update: See separate story

Layman’s Way: Buck said he has been appointed to a York County task force to finalize plans for expansion of the Layman’s Way Recovery Center, which is being funded with federal ARPA grants. The Center is currently located in Alfred, but the Selectmen in that town have indicated they do not want an expanded center there. The expanded Center will accept outside applicants in addition to individuals diverted from the County criminal justice system. 

Community Paramedicine Program (CPP): Assistant Fire Chief Rick Smith reported the City has been licensed for the CPP program. Buck said the City expects to receive a $100,000 grant from the state and is seeking to partner with Southern Maine Health Care and Nasson Health Care for additional grants to fully fund the position for the first year. The CPP paramedic would be integrated with the MHU with a primary mission to provide healthcare services outside a hospital setting for those in need. 

Communications / Presentations 

SPD Promotions: In a brief ceremony, four officers with the SPD were promoted to the rank of Sergeant by Police Chief Craig Andersen. They are Colleen Adams, Everett Allen, Chris Brown and Matt Begin. Following their pinning, family members came up for photos with each of the new Sergeants. Chief Andersen said the SPD has seven pillars of leadership which each officer strives to meet daily. He said the promotions are part of a succession plan which will enable the future success of the SPD. Katie Cox, the Chief’s new Executive Assistant, was also introduced. 

Public Participation 

Dale Nason, President of the Patriot Riders of Maine, Chapter One, spoke to promote The Wall That Heals, which is coming to Sanford this week. He said the Wall That Heals gives veterans and families who have not been able to travel to D.C. some closure and encouraged everyone to visit. See our separate story here.

Lee Burnett of the Trails Committee spoke about his frustration with erosion on the trails caused by runoff from City streets. He mentioned two areas in particular, on the Rail Trail on Oak Street and on the Mousam Way Trail off Spartan Drive. He said he is also frustrated that no maintenance has been done on the Rail Trail since ATVs were prohibited in June. Mayor Brink responded that the City was unable to get grants for trail work while ATV use was ongoing, but  grant money has begun to flow and residents should see more activity in that regard. 

Public Hearings 

Business Licenses: Three public hearings were held for the following new business licenses. No one spoke in favor or against, and they were approved without comment under the Consent Agenda. 

  • Leaf Labs LLC, for an Adult Use Cannabis Grower/Cultivator license 1 at 72 Emery St., Unit 301 
  • DBA Peter Geibel, for a Medical Cannabis Grower/Cultivator license at 72 Emery St., Unit 150 
  • Sky View Pitch and Putt for a liquor license with malt and vinous privileges at 1569 Main St. 

RVs as Living Quarters: See separate story

Shelter Licensing: A public hearing was held on amendments to ordinances establishing a license, standards and fee for homeless shelters. Houseal said the amendments were adopted on an emergency basis by the Council in July, and the City is seeking to make them permanent. The existing shelters in the City, run by York County Shelter Programs and Caring Unlimited, are supportive of the changes and licensing, he said. No members of the public spoke in favor or against the amendments. 

Later in the meeting, the first reading was held. Houseal clarified that the licensing application section of the ordinance would only apply to new shelters. Existing shelters will have to meet the section on operating procedures, which must include safety and security plans, intake procedures, sanitation plans, minimum staffing requirements and more. 

Fire Marshal’s Office: A public hearing was held on amendments to the city code pursuant to the elimination of the office of the Fire Marshal, which was effective June 30, 2023. No members of the public spoke in favor or against the amendments. Later in the meeting, the first reading was held. City Manager Buck said the duties of the Fire Marshal have been predominantly assigned to the Code Enforcement Officer and Fire Chief or their delegates. The second reading will be held September 19. 

Old Business 

Zoning Change: A second reading was held on a proposed zone change (from Single Family Residential to Urban) for the property at 1 Park St. The change will allow the property to be made into a two-family home. The Council approved the change. 

New Business 

Housing Vouchers: See separate story

Municipal Election: The Council voted to sign the municipal warrant for the municipal election to be held Tuesday, November 7. 

Health Officer: The Council voted to accept, with regret, the resignation of Dr. William Frank from the position of Local Health Officer, effective September 21. Dr. Frank wrote that he has too many commitments to continue adequately providing this service to the City. 

FAA Grant: The Council voted to accept a grant in the amount of $174,411 from the Federal Aviation Administration for improvements to the east ramp of the Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport. Buck noted that it has been more than 15 years since the east ramp was redone. 

Code of Conduct: The Council voted to clarify Section 6 of its Code of Conduct to read: “Except for the purpose of inquiry and investigation under Section 205.10 of the City Charter, a City Councilor may not give direction to City Staff but must make all requests through the City Manager’s Office with the full knowledge of the Mayor.” The Council actually approved a similar change last month, but decided to consult with the City’s law firm to get the correct language and to vote again. 

Codes and Planning Reorganization: The Council approved a reorganization of the Codes and Planning Departments which includes the following changes: 

  • Creating the position of Permit and Safety Specialist in the Codes Department, which will be filled by Code Enforcement Officer Alix Horr 
  • Defunding the position of Planning Director effective October 31. Planning Director Beth Della Valle, who has been on medical leave since late last year, will officially retire as of that date. 
  • Authorizing hiring a third Code Enforcement Officer to replace Horr 
  • Moving $90,882 from the budget for Planning Wages to Code Wages for the remainder of fiscal year 2023/24, effective October 31. 

Buck said these changes have resulted from the City perfecting its planning process in a multitude of ways. Jamie Cole has been working as Acting Planning Director in addition to being Chief Code Enforcement Officer this year, and during this time the combined departments have been able to clean up the backlog of applications despite having a record-breaking number of new applications to process. Buck noted that the position of Planning Director is being defunded, but not eliminated, in case it needs to be brought back at some point. Cole will continue to direct both departments. The reorganization will save the City $41,000 this fiscal year and $149,000 in the following year. 

Councilor Comments 

Councilor Pete Tranchemontagne encouraged all residents to attend Sanford School Department sporting events and support our young athletes. 

Councilor Ayn Hanselmann announced the Friends of Downtown’s 3rd Annual Selfies With Scarecrows event is kicking off soon. She also promoted the 2023-24 lineup of shows at Sanford Performing Arts Center, which was announced last week. 

Councilor Bob Stackpole announced that Garbage to Garden, which offers curbside recycling of food waste to Sanford residents, has changed its pickup day from Tuesday to Monday. The service costs $19 a month, and he encouraged anyone who might be on the fence about signing up to think about it seriously, calling it “a very valuable part of our overall solid waste program…let’s get the numbers up to keep the program going.” 

Future Agenda Items 

Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy requested the Solid Waste Subcommittee talk about having a hazardous waste disposal day once or twice a year. 

City Manager Buck asked for the Public Safety Subcommittee to discuss how opioid funds coming to the City could best be used. Councilor Hanselmann said that ties into her request for an agenda item on what additional resources the MHU might need in order to address current City needs. 

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