Director of Community Development Ian Houseal responds to a question from Councilor Pete Tranchemontagne concerning 58 Pleasant St.
Photo: City of Sanford video.
By Renée Morin
The Sanford City Council met Feb. 6. Councilor Pete Tranchemontagne attended via Zoom due to illness; Mayor Becky Brink was absent.
The council approved the minutes from the following: Regular City Council meeting held Jan. 16, executive session held Jan. 16, and executive session held Jan. 23.
Mayor’s Report / Subcommittee Reports
There was no Mayor’s Report and no Subcommittee Reports.
City Manager’s Report
City Manager Steve Buck reported on many transportation improvements to be completed during the next three years in conjunction with Maine Department of Transportation. He described several street or highway improvements and noted that almost all traffic lights in the city will eventually be replaced with the latest technology. More details will be described next week.
Buck updated the council on new legislation being proposed in Augusta, including a bill that would increase health benefits for first responders.
He reported that the City of Sanford and other communities are negotiating a solid waste disposal contract because the current contract expires in 2025.
Homelessness Task Force
The homeless population in Sanford is about 155 individuals. The city continues to work on tackling the problem. Buck reported that funding for shelters is a challenge. The city is providing case managers for people at Lafayette Warming Center.
City Clerk Sue Cote said the polling places used for the March 5 presidential primary are the same as the last election. The information is available on the city’s website. Maine is holding semi-open primaries for the first time this year. Unenrolled voters can now fill out an application to receive a ballot for the primary that they would like to participate in.
The New No Labels party has been added to the voter registration forms. There have been complaints from some citizens that they were misled into changing their party affiliation when they signed a petition, which might affect their ability to vote in the primary. Ms. Cote said anyone concerned about their registration can contact the clerk’s office to discuss their options.
Cote discussed the new law that allows people 65 or older, or disabled people, to get their absentee ballots on an “ongoing” basis. The Legislature also passed laws allowing certain people under 18 to pre-register to vote and participate in primaries.
More voting information on the City of Sanford’s website can be found here: https://www.sanfordmaine.org/departments/election___voter_information/index.php
Sanford Trails Committee Annual Report
The Sanford Trails Committee Annual Report was presented by Committee Chair Lawrence Furbish. A key talking point of the report was updates and improvements to the Rail Trail. Much of the money allocated to the committee went to restoring the stretch of trail from Hanson Ridge to Main Street. The trail is now seeing more use by the public because of the committee’s efforts. The next step for the committee is to attempt a restoration of the stretch of trail from Hanson Ridge to Lebanon. Plans are also in the works to modify the trail’s gates to discourage illegal ATV riding while still encouraging other types of public use.
In more news about the Rail Trail, Deering Pond beavers have been a particular challenge to the committee. The replacement of the “beaver deceiver” obstacle at the entrance to Deering Pond helped to combat the flooding issue in the wetlands around the trail, but the beavers are causing issues on the trail area itself.
Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council Quarterly Report
The Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council’s quarterly report was presented by Executive Director Keith McBride. Starting on an upbeat note, he said the national economy is doing better than was feared, and the possibility of a “soft landing” seems more likely.
On the local front, McBride went over the Growth Council’s activities during 2023. There was a big emphasis on communicating with industries, Realtors and local businesses about the benefits and challenges of operating in Sanford. McBride also revealed the Growth Council’s 2024 priorities, with the top ones being: business attraction, business expansion and retention and public-private partnership and investment.
In other news, the Jagger Mill building in Springvale is now under contract. Also, the currently vacant property which formerly housed Back Street Grill will soon become the home of a new Mexican restaurant.
Jonathan Mapes offered comments on the flavored tobacco issue. See related story.
A public hearing was held about the renewal of an Adult Use Retail Cannabis Store license at 72 Emery St., Unit 105. There were no comments, and the hearing was closed. The renewal was granted without opposition under the consent agenda.
A public hearing was held on an ordinance amending the city code’s marijuana license sections. Resident Dianne Connolly asked if there was a limit to the number of marijuana stores permitted in Sanford. Deputy Mayor Herlihy said that the current maximum is five.
The Council voted to confirm its findings and orders from the previous meeting regarding three properties determined to be dangerous buildings and nuisances: 27 Rushton St., 58 Pleasant St. and 102 Channel Lane. Community Development Director Ian Houseal told the council he has been in contact with relatives of the owner of 58 Pleasant St.
Shalimar Jilli-Ana DeBusk and Dereck Bourque have been appointed to vacancies on the Sanford Trails Committee until December 31, 2024.
The ordinance amending the city code’s marijuana license sections was read aloud. The ordinance will be on the agenda for a second reading on Feb. 20.
Two septic systems will be replaced with the funding being derived either entirely or in part from the DEP Small Community Grant Program.
Amendments to the City Council’s Code of Conduct, Rules of Procedure and Goals for 2024, were all reviewed and adopted.
See related story on a proposed Flavored Tobacco Ordinance / Legislation.
Council Member Comments
Councilor Ayn Hanselmann stressed the need to support Sanford’s Backpack Program, which helps combat child hunger. The Backpack Program is hosting a Chocolate Benefit Spectacular on May 18.
Councilor Bob Stackpole voiced his concerns about motorized wheelchairs driving in the road and the wrong way on Main Street. He wanted to remind the public that individuals using motorized wheelchairs or bicycles should be riding with traffic and when possible, chairs should be on the sidewalk.
Councilor Nate Hitchcock expressed his gratitude, both to the citizens who had shown up to participate in the meeting and the first responders who have helped with car accidents this winter.
Councilor Jonathan Martell commented on the issue of flavored tobacco products. See that story.
Future Agenda Items
Future agenda items include continued discussion of flavored tobacco products, and potential zoning ordinances.