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City Council May 7 Meeting Summary

Communications Director Jordan Wilson updates the council on the efforts being made to promote the proposed replacement fire stations

Communications Director Jordan Wilson updates the council on the efforts being made to promote the proposed replacement fire stations.

Photo: City of Sanford

By Renée Morin

The city council met on Tuesday May 7, 2024, with all members in attendance.

Mayor’s Report

Mayor Becky Brink started off her report by expressing appreciation for the staff of Sanford schools, in recognition of Teachers’ Appreciation Week.

Brink, along with Councilor Ayn Hanselmann, praised the Sanford Backpack Program which is used to combat hunger among Sanford youth. Additionally, a spotlight was shone on other non-profits and fundraisers in the City, such as the May 18 Chocolate Benefit and the Sanford Rotary Club, which raises funds for the Backpack Program, as well as the Stepping Out for Seniors Program and the Sanford Youth Community Alliance.

City Manager’s Report

A bill in the Maine Legislature that would have banned the sale of flavored tobacco products is dead. The issue is likely to be added to a future referendum via petition.

York County Community Action Corporation’s transport division has received a 2 million dollar grant to establish a commuter service between Sanford and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. The service is planned to be operational sometime between the end of the summer and early fall.

Governor Janet Mills signed a bill to amend the limits on municipal property tax collection.

The legislature is considering additional funds for general assistance reimbursements to municipalities.

The City administration is working with medical providers and other government partners on funding for community paramedicine.

Assistant Fire Chief Robert Arnold announced his retirement effective August 8.

The City will pursue disaster relief funds for the costs associated with the April 3 storm event.

The City’s Assessing Department continues to work on its 2024 valuations.

Homelessness Update

May 1 saw the closing of the warming center at Lafayette School, with about half of the 44 remaining patrons accepting the assistance services offered. Meals will continue to be served at the school Tuesdays and Thursdays, though it is not yet determined whether the location will be utilized next year.

A review of housing related outcomes from the last legislative session, tracked by City Manager Steve Buck and the Homelessness Task Force, was conducted. The summary found that the December 2023 advocacy for increased non-low barrier shelter funding seemingly did not prove to be productive. Instead, funding was competitively distributed by the Maine State Housing Authority to several entities providing housing and shelter services.

Additional legislation that would have increased state reimbursement for general assistance costs from the current 70% to 90% also failed to pass.

Sanford police officers will travel by bike and on foot around the city starting May 20. This initiative is designed to “address conflicts within the public areas,” as well as offer assistance and build trust with the City’s homeless population. According to Buck, “Building trust and offering services over time has proven the most effective means of influencing a positive change for a majority of people currently unhoused.”

Notice will be provided to the inhabitants of the Heritage Crossing encampment about its removal before June 30 due to health and safety issues. In the meantime, assistance services will continue to be offered to the inhabitants.

Communications/Presentations

Deputy Police Chief Eric Small presented Great Bay Services and Pine Tree Properties with a certificate expressing the City’s appreciation for their continued participation in the Earth Day cleanups.

The Council was shown two videos made to promote the proposed fire station replacements. Communications Director Jordan Wilson shared further plans to promote the project within the community.

At the end of Wilson’s presentation, Buck commented regarding the proposed replacements. “I no longer contemplate the ‘if’ and I’m contemplating less the ‘when’ because the ‘when’ is going to be forced upon us whether we want to pay for it now or we want to pay for it in the future; because when those OSHA regulations come down there is nothing that is in compliance with our stations, nor can we retrofit them to get us to that point.”

Public Hearings

A hearing was held regarding the proposed application for a grant being submitted to the State of Maine CDBG program. The application is for a housing assistance grant to support Habitat for Humanity in the construction of four affordable homeownership units in Sanford.

A hearing was held on revisions to the City’s Floodplain Management Ordinance to reflect the updated FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps and to maintain compliance with the National Flood Insurance Program.

A hearing was held on proposed ordinance revisions for minor text changes related to dumpsters.

A hearing was held to discuss the creation of a new Assistant Manager position through an act of Ordinance pursuant to Charter Section 205.3

A hearing was held on a proposed ordinance for the establishment of a moratorium on the construction of new campgrounds in the City of Sanford. The proposal is for 180 days “to allow time for examination and amendment of regulations pertaining to design standards that have potential to constitute a danger to public health and welfare.” Multiple Sanford residents came up to share their opinion of the measure with the council. See our previous story for more details: Council Likely to Put Temporary Halt to Campground Development – Sanford Springvale NEWS

New Business

The Council approved an overlimit permit for MaineDOT construction.

They also discussed changes to the City’s subcommittee schedule during the months of July and August.

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