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City Council Meeting Summary: February 2, 2021

2021 Nissan NV 12-Passenger Van approved for purchase by the Parks & Rec Department.

Councilor Ayn Hanselmann led the pledge of allegiance.

Subcommittee reports:

  • Councilor Robert Stackpole gave a report on last week’s Zoning Subcommittee meeting. The Subcommittee spent quite a bit of time discussing how to proceed with the issue of retail recreational marijuana sales in Sanford. It is currently not an allowed use in any zone. He said the issue came up because there is a slight possibility the state may allow some kind of local taxation, which would benefit the city. He pointed out that adult use marijuana sales already benefit the city by means of the state taxes which come back to us as municipal revenue sharing. He added they will be seeking input on the issue and it will be a lengthy process before any ordinance changes are made. [Editor’s note: the discussion began because one of Sanford’s many commercial cannabis growers inquired informally about expanding into a retail operation.]
  • Councilor Hanselmann reported on the School Naming Committee. They had a meeting last Tuesday, and produced an online survey that has already gone out to the public. The survey is available at Sanford.org as well as on the Welcome to Sanford Facebook page. The input that is gathered will be forwarded to the School Committee, which will make the ultimate decision.
  • Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio reported on several of the other subcommittees. The Municipal Operations and Property Subcommittee asked for a policy review on who is allowed to drive the Parks and Rec Department’s van. The Public Safety Subcommittee heard an update on homeless outreach efforts by Officer Eric Small. Officer Small was profiled in the January issue of Maine Town and City magazine. The Fire Station Feasibility Committee toured the city’s three fire stations, and is scheduled to meet again this week. John Caramihalis has joined the committee. The Land Bank Authority is considering adding non-voting advisory members, and will present an annual report to the Council.

In her Mayor’s report, Ms. Mastraccio addressed complaints about a Facebook post by Councilor Luke Lanigan. See separate story.

City Manager Steven Buck gave an update on the Covid-19 numbers across the state, and talked about plans for a high-volume vaccination center. See related story.

Mr. Buck presented a letter from Comcast, which wants to enter into negotiations with the city of Sanford regarding a franchise for a “brand new, state of the art cable system.” Although we have a current franchise agreement with Atlantic Broadband, it is not an exclusive deal, so we can have more than one. Through negotiations, the city can get a share of the cable TV revenue, and may be able to get additional funding to put toward WSSR-TV productions of municipal and educational programming. Mr. Buck called Comcast’s interest “an extremely favorable development” as the company has also expressed interest in using the city’s SanfordNet Fiber system as the backbone of their dark fiber lease.

A Cable Franchise Negotiation Committee was created, with Mr. Buck, Superintendent of Schools Matt Nelson, Community Development Director Ian Houseal, Mayor Mastraccio, Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy and Councilor Hanselmann as members.

Public Works Director Matt Hill gave a presentation on the Maine Department of Transportation’s upcoming road construction projects in Sanford for the next three years. See separate story.

Allison Navia, Director of the Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport, gave an impressive update on the Airport’s business plan, with details of what has been accomplished in the past five years, and goals for the next five.  “The airport is an economic engine, and it facilitates transportation in all of its different, vital ways. It’s a portal for emergency services, and is also a gateway to our community,” she said. The Council unanimously approved the updated plan.

A public hearing and first reading on the rezoning of a piece of property next to the former Bonanza Steakhouse was held. The property is proposed to be rezoned from Single Family Residential to Urban, to allow VIP Auto Center to add on to the Bonanza property and relocate there.

The Council approved the purchase of a new 12-passenger Nissan van for the Parks and Recreation Department (see photo). The van will replace one that is almost 20 years old, and used year-round for activities. Lori Hegarty of Parks & Rec said the new van is lower to the ground, making it easier for seniors and small children to access it. The lower ground clearance will also make it more difficult for thieves to steal the catalytic converter, which has happened twice with the old van. She detailed some of the safety features as well. The van will be purchased with four-year financing.

The Council proclaimed National School Counseling Week.

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