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City Council March 19 Meeting Summary

educational video on fire station construction

A draft of an upcoming educational video on fire station construction was shown to the City Council at the March 19 meeting.

Credit: City of Sanford

By Renée Morin

The city council met on March 19, 2024, with all members present. A moment of silence was dedicated to the memory of Sharon Remick, a former teacher and principal in the community.

Subcommittee Reports

The Property Subcommittee report mentioned there will be upcoming road closures that will be discussed more at a later date. Updates are planned to be made to city ordinances concerning park regulations and rules. The subcommittee is also looking into possible updates to park and facility rules.

Food truck locations and where they can connect to electrical outlets have been identified as a future agenda item for the Property Subcommittee.

The Public Safety Subcommittee report noted that they had been given a wildfire presentation by the fire department.

Attempts are being made by the subcommittee to expand the ordinance around loitering and overnight sleeping on city property. The subcommittee will bring the proposal before the City Council before the work is continued.

The recent Chili Cook-Off was won by Amy (Last name unknown). Another Chili Cook-Off, open to all city departments, city councilors and school department members, will be held next February.

The Zoning Subcommittee report detailed ongoing interest by residents in the conservation of Sand Pond. It was determined that a proposed moratorium regarding the pond was unnecessary, as the Codes and Planning Departments have sufficient regulations to protect the pond.

The Land Bank Authority took feedback regarding the policy concerning blighted buildings proposed at the previous city council meeting. Additionally, the authority also discussed the buildings on that night’s agenda.

The Solid Waste Subcommittee detailed the issue of vape paraphernalia disposal. Concerns have been raised about exposure to used marijuana cartridges causing false positives on drug tests for city workers handling waste. Lithium batteries found in the vapes also contain hazardous material and are expensive to dispose of. A “bottle bill,” with an initial disposal fee, may eventually be added to the cost of vape purchases to address this.

City Manager’s Report

The schedule for the planned update to the city’s 2005 Comprehensive Plan has been released by City Planner Erin Moriarty. According to City Manager Steve Buck the proposed timeline is “very aggressive” and is within a “12-month period of time.”

In addition, Buck said, “This would provide for a Steering Committee of 23 Representatives. The public will have the additional opportunity to comment on the developing sections and will also be part of specific focus groups when applicable.”

Moriarty has learned of a previously unknown grant available from the Department of Economic and Community Development to perform a study that will aid in housing, a significant area of our comprehensive plan. The grant is for $50,000.

The City of Sanford has been accepted into the Community Resilience Partnership. With this acceptance, the city is now invited to apply for the first $50,000 grant that has been slated to increase the city’s climate resilience for storm drainage within the downtown district.

The Trails Committee has received a grant of $500, for work to be done around the areas of early colonial settlement.

The city and Maine DOT will now begin the task of replacing every traffic light in the city, with new ones connected to Sanford Net Fiber. Work began in South Sanford on March 12.

The city is monitoring a bill in the legislature, LD 1664, An Act to Increase Reimbursement Under the General Assistance Program. With this bill, direct aid to this program would increase from 70% to 90%.

The Blue Line Trolley Service will be discontinued for summer 2024. The Orange Line bus will be extended to Wells Beach to primarily address workforce needs.

The city website has been updated, with a new option to receive emails with City Council subcommittee meeting agendas. Updates from other local government bodies, such as Maine DOT, are available as well. This feature can be found on the Agendas, Minutes & Videos page of the city’s website, https://www.sanfordmaine.org.

Homelessness Update

The Homelessness Taskforce is continuing to monitor legislation, as well as a “potential funding mechanism,” from the state government to assist with homelessness.

While the Lafeyette Warming Shelter is slated to close for the season May 1, other services including the Recovery Center, which assists people dealing with substance abuse, will remain open. Occupants of the warming shelter have been given advance notice and are being encouraged to work with the housing navigators to find housing. HUD vouchers are available to assist in this.

Lack of mental health services is impeding residents from employing the additional services available to them. “Advocacy and awareness” from the state is needed. Despite this, housing navigators from Sanford Housing Authority, York County Shelter Program, and York County Community Action Corp., are continuing to work together to assist those in need.

Conditions at the encampment at Heritage Crossing are deteriorating, with a lack of trash removal described as being a prime issue. Case managers and navigators are determining how best to help the population, and when to clear out the encampment.

The importance of the HUB in coordinating case management of our populations and in connecting state and local resources towards addressing housing was recognized by the Homelessness Taskforce. The progress of HUB Region 1 was examined, as well as the need to address mental health and substance abuse. According to the taskforce report “It was expressed that the HUB is now making reasonable progress towards fully implementing [this].”

Communications/Presentations

Congratulations were given during the meeting for Sanford Police Sergeant Colleen Adams being named one of USA TODAY’s Women of the Year. More information can be found in our previous article: https://sanfordspringvalenews.com/colleen-adams-usa-today-maine-woman-of-the-year/

A draft of an upcoming educational video on fire station construction was shown to the Council by Communications Coordinator Jordan Wilson. Along with the video, Wilson communicated the edits that she was planning to make to the video before the final product is released. At the end of her presentation Councilor Jonathan Martell gave some constructive criticism on the video, before commenting that it was a “great start” and thanking Wilson for her work. Wilson and the fire department have also filmed two other videos, one addressing cases of cancer in firefighters, and another about fire station deficiencies. More videos tackling the financial angle of the project will be produced in the future.

Public Participation

There was no public participation.

Public Hearings

A public hearing was held on the municipal and school budget proposals for the 2024-2025 fiscal year. See our story on the budget for more details: https://sanfordspringvalenews.com/council-oks-budget-adjustments-payt-bags-to-increase-to-16/.

Old Business

The amendments to the city ordinances on Design District Overlay Zones were read aloud for the second time. The amendments were approved unanimously.

New Business

The architect for the proposed new fire stations made a presentation. See that story: https://sanfordspringvalenews.com/new-fire-station-designs-unveiled/.

Facilities Director Alex Hammerle shared his findings from tracking natural gas futures markets, which he said track closely with electricity pricing, to find the best rate for a renewed electricity contract with Maine Power Options. The current contract is set to expire October 2024. A mild winter has resulted in changes in pricing that are out of the norm for this time of year, with prices rising earlier than expected. The prices seem unlikely to come down, so a contract was drafted for three years, with a rate of $0.0948/kWh. According to Hammerle’s memo, this is “$0.0073/kWh lower than the current contract.” The proposed contract was unanimously approved by the council.

The Council discussed whether the city should send a delegate to participate in the York County Budget Committee Caucuses on April 10. Martell volunteered to attend the caucus but did not want to serve on the Committee.

Dangerous Building hearings were held on three properties. See that story for details: https://sanfordspringvalenews.com/three-sanford-properties-judged-dangerous-buildings/.

Council Member Comments

On the issue of vape battery disposal, Martell suggested that Lowe’s could possibly help with the disposal by taking the batteries.

Martell also mentioned receiving emails concerning the trash bags at the Heritage Crossing Area. Mayor Becky Brink responded, saying that that the Homelessness Taskforce was coordinating a “roll off” group to tackle the issue.

Councilor Pete Tranchemontagne offered encouraging words for a friend who is battling brain cancer.

Councilor Bob Stackpole wished everyone a “happy spring” and commented on seeing dark blue, thick plastic bags blowing around the city. Stackpole requested that people properly dispose of their plastic bags and that the banning of plastic grocery bags has helped with this.

Stackpole also requested people pick up after their dogs around Number One Pond, as the city will be spending $25 million dollars in that area, and the land should be taken care of.

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