City Council Meeting Summary: February 16, 2021
Councilor John Tuttle led the pledge of allegiance. He asked for the moment of silence to be in remembrance of George Smith, former director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine; and James Morrison of Whitman St., whom he described as “a lifelong Yankees fan, but still a pretty good kid.”
- Councilor Robert Stackpole spoke about the Zoning Subcommittee’s discussion on possible zoning changes to allow for retail marijuana sales. He called it a good starting point, but added they are still in the very preliminary stages. He said they also discussed setting up a joint meeting with the Planning Board. The Zoning Subcommittee also talked about allowing restaurants to offer outdoor dining again once the weather warms, and whether to allow it on a temporary or permanent basis.
- Councilor Ayn Hanselmann said the School Naming Committee has received submissions from the public, and would be meeting on Thursday to come up with a recommendation for the School Committee’s consideration.
- For the Municipal Operations and Property Subcommittee, Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio talked about the Midtown Mall parking lot upgrade, planned to be completed this year. The upgrade will add a pedestrian walkway from Main Street to the staircase, and increase the number of parking spaces. The work will be paid for by a Community Development Block Grant with some matching funds from the mall owner.
- The Public Safety Subcommittee heard a plan by Sanford Housing Authority Director Diane Gerry to open an Envision Center at Sunset Towers. The full Council will hear the presentation at a future meeting.
- Mayor Mastraccio said the Land Bank Authority discussed changes to the Land Bank Commission’s order.
- The Fire Station Feasibility Working Group met and heard members’ impressions of their tours of Sanford’s three fire stations. They discussed what information the community might find helpful in making a decision on a future bond request. The Group will meet biweekly, but a date has not been set yet for the next meeting.
- The Leadership Team, consisting of members of the City Council and School Committee, got an update on construction at the Converted Elementary School, expected to be completed by June. They also talked about the future of some of the School Department’s buildings including Willard School and Anderson Learning Center. No decisions have been made.
In his report, City Manager Steven Buck gave an update on the latest Covid-19 statistics in Maine and York County. See related story.
Mr. Buck also presented some information from a joint study being conducted by the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the town of Kittery. The information is very pertinent, as hundreds of workers commute daily from Sanford to the Shipyard. He said that regional transportation for workers there and at other major employers (such as Pratt & Whitney) is a big consideration. A Park and Ride for Sanford is planned, and may be located on city-owned property next to Cumberland Farms on Emerson St. A regional housing study to address workforce needs is also underway.
Councilor Lucas Lanigan motioned to add an item to the meeting’s agenda, to request a review with opinion from the city’s attorney on Councilor Lanigan’s removal from his subcommittee assignments by Mayor Mastraccio at the February 2 meeting. (See previous story.) Councilor Jonathan Martell seconded the motion, but it failed on a 5-2 vote. (An item must have unanimous support to be added to the agenda during a meeting.)
Under public participation, Jen Davie reported on the Sanford Backpack Program’s distribution of 100,000 pounds of food at Sanford High School the previous week, and thanked volunteers. Former Town Councilor Brad Littlefield spoke about the City Charter as a friend who is not being respected by the Mayor and City Council. “Please don’t cancel this friendship,” he said.
The Council unanimously approved rezoning a parcel of land next to the former Bonanza restaurant, from Single Family Residential to Urban. The Bonanza property is being purchased by Quirk Automotive. Quirk will expand the building and move its VIP Auto Service Center there from the current location adjacent to Alumni Boulevard.
The Council unanimously approved the purchase of a compact truck loader with trailer and attachments, for the Sanford-Seacoast Regional Airport to use in fulfilling its maintenance contract for the solar installation. Jordan Equipment was the low bidder at $99,192.75.
The Council voted unanimously to accept a grant of $400,000 from the Safe Routes to School program. See separate story.
Ashley M. Gerry was appointed to the Board of Appeals.
The Council authorized Mr. Buck to sign an overlimit permit for Maine DOT construction equipment on the western end of Route 202.
The Council unanimously approved the purchase of a 2016 Kenworth T880 to replace a 2001 Mack truck in the Public Works Department’s fleet. The Mack is starting to have escalating repair costs. The Kenworth will be used for transporting equipment. The purchase is part of the PWD’s Fleet Management program, and is funded from the Capital Improvements Plan.
The Council unanimously approved five-year contracts with Casella Resource Solutions and EcoMaine for trash pickup/disposal and recycling. See separate story.
After a lengthy presentation by Mr. Buck, the Council unanimously approved forwarding the city budget to the Budget Committee as the next step in the budget process. Look for an upcoming story on this.
Mayor Mastraccio motioned to appoint Councilor Martell to fill Councilor Lanigan’s place on the Fire Station Feasibility Working Group, and Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy to fill his place on the Solid Waste Subcommittee, with Councilor Lanigan’s position on the Land Bank Authority remaining unfilled at this time. The discussion began in a civil fashion but became heated over the next 25 minutes, with raised voices and frequent interruptions. Ultimately, as the meeting was nearing the four-hour mark, the Council voted 5-2 to approve the replacements, with Councilors Lanigan and Martell voting in opposition. [Editor’s note: if you want to read more about this, see Shawn Sullivan’s article on Seacoast Online here.]
The full City Council meeting video can be viewed here.