Councilors Herlihy, Martell and Hitchcock are sworn in by City Clerk Sue Cote.
Photo: City of Sanford video.
By Zendelle Bouchard
The Sanford City Council met Jan. 2, 2024. Councilor Ayn Hanselmann was absent with excuse; Mayor Becky Brink and Councilor Bob Stackpole attended via Zoom due to illness.
As this was the first meeting of the year, several organizational items on the agenda were taken out of order.
Swearing In: City Clerk Sue Cote swore in Councilors Maura Herlihy, Jonathan Martell and Nathaniel Hitchcock for their new terms.
Election of Deputy Mayor: Stackpole nominated Herlihy for another term as Deputy Mayor, Hitchcock seconded. There were no other nominations and the vote was unanimous. Herlihy thanked everyone for their support. She took over running the meeting as Brink had difficulty talking without coughing.
Budget Review Schedule: see separate story.
Council Meeting Schedule: The Council voted unanimously to continue meeting on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at 6 pm and adjust as necessary for holidays.
Compensation: The Council voted unanimously to set its annual compensation at $4,000, and the Mayor’s annual compensation at $5,000.
Subcommittee, Board and Committee Assignments: see separate story.
Code of Conduct and Rules of Procedure: The Council voted unanimously to adopt its Code of Conduct and Rules of Procedure without changes. Herlihy explained that there are upcoming workshops scheduled on these documents and changes may be made after that.
(New Business continued later in the meeting.)
The minutes of the Dec. 18 executive session and Dec. 19 regular meeting were approved without changes.
Mayor’s Report / Subcommittee Reports
Mayor Brink had no report and there were no Subcommittee meetings since the last Council meeting.
City Manager’s Report
Gym Repairs: City Manager Steve Buck said the tipping of the bricks, and leveling and pointing of the steps at Veterans Memorial Gym has been completed. Parks & Recreation Director Brady Lloyd is working on the purchase of the floor covering. This is the first phase of renovations. The roof membrane will be done later in the year. Funds for these items were already approved. Lloyd will present a new proposal on pricing for rental of the Gym at the Municipal Operations and Property Subcommittee meeting next week.
Codes and Planning: Buck reported that the Codes and Planning offices have been very busy with permits far exceeding expectations this fiscal year, but applications have begun to slow down, which will allow time for training the new Code Enforcement Officer as well as the annual processing of rental and vacant building licenses. There will also be a renewed push on the Comprehensive Plan Update. The City’s new Sanford Connects website (sanfordmeconnects.com) will enable the public to have input on the Comprehensive Plan Update as it is developed.
Legislative Update: Buck reported the State Legislature resumed that day for the short session, with more than 300 bills carried over from the last session as well as more than 90 emergency bills submitted. The state is projecting a surplus of $139 million. The City will have input through the Legislative Policy Committee and Mayor’s Coalition. Buck said he heard there have been positive developments around increased funding for homeless shelters and mental health bed capacity which will benefit Sanford.
Communications / Presentations
Public Participation: Springvale resident Dianne Connolly expressed concern about people who park right next to the crosswalk in front of the Third Alarm Diner, blocking the view of people trying to cross the street safely. She also said the location of the bus stop at Railroad Avenue and Pleasant Street is dangerous. Another resident, Chris Heywood, said he takes the bus there and agreed it is dangerous.
Cannabis Licenses: Public hearings were held on a new application by Hyperion Laboratories, LLC, for a Cannabis Manufacturing Tier II license at 9 Renaissance Way, Unit 4, and a renewal application by Stache, LLC, for an Adult Use Retail Cannabis Store license at 9 Renaissance Way. No one spoke in favor or against. The licenses were granted with no opposition under the Consent Agenda.
Zoning Changes: Public hearings were held on the proposed zoning changes that were discussed in December. See that story. City Planner Erin Moriarty gave a brief explanation of the changes that have been mandated by the state in response to the housing shortage. Dianne Connolly said, with regard to the merging of the Single Family Residential Zone and the Residential Development Zone, the Planning Board should be able to review any changes in permitted uses until the Comprehensive Plan update is done. Moriarty said those changes were reviewed at the most recent Planning Board meeting and the permitted uses for both zones were compared side by side. Two of the uses are required by the state. With two other exceptions, all the uses which were not previously allowed in the SFR Zone will be permitted with review or as conditional uses, which means they will have to be approved by the Planning Board. The only two uses which will be permitted by right which weren’t before are 1) offices associated with an allowed use and 2) retail sale of items manufactured on the premises.
Resident Dave Lehoux asked if paper copies of the proposed zoning changes are available as he does not have online capability. Herlihy said the Planning Department could print them out for him. He expressed concern that developers could tear down single-family homes and replace them with four-family buildings. Buck said although more units will be allowed per lot, the City’s density and setback standards will remain in place, which will help retain the residential characteristic of neighborhoods.
Moriarty said there is also a provision that allows the Planning Board to take the scale of surrounding buildings into consideration when granting approvals. Herlihy added that the new requirements won’t be as much of a shock to Sanford as to more rural towns like Shapleigh that have two-acre minimum lot sizes.
A second reading on the proposed changes will be held at the Jan. 16 Council meeting before the Council votes on them.
More New Business
Crack Sealing: The Council approved bids from two contractors to provide crack sealing on City roads. Public Works Director Matt Hill said having two contractors will enable the City to use them both on an on-call basis so this maintenance work won’t be left undone.
Council Member Comments
- Councilor Stackpole said he has gotten a couple of emails from a resident asking the Council to take a public position on the Israeli/Hamas war. Stackpole said the Council has made a point of not commenting on national and international issues, preferring instead to focus on issues relating directly to the community. He also spoke about the recent passing of John Cochin, who he called “the original grouchy old man” and “a great guy.”
- Mayor Brink thanked City staffers responsible for making the Zoom meetings work so well.
- Councilor Hitchcock wished everyone a happy New Year and said the upcoming budget will be a difficult process.
- Councilor Pete Tranchemontagne gave his condolences to the family of Austin Ham, who passed away recently.
- Councilor Martell wished everyone a happy New Year and said the Council always appreciates feedback from constituents on the budget or other issues.
Future Agenda Items
Brink said there will be a proposal to create an ordinance banning flavored vaping products in response to problems at Sanford High School. She said people should be prepared for a budget increase this year due to new contracts with first responders that were necessary to attract employees for those needed services.