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City Council Meeting Summary March 5

Stephanie Jopling (bottom left) stands next to Mayor Becky Brink (bottom far left)

Stephanie Jopling (bottom left) stands next to Mayor Becky Brink (bottom far left) as she conveys her concerns about the SHS Alternative Education Program potentially being cut.

Credit: WSSR-TV

By Renée Morin

The Sanford City Council met March 5, 2024. All members were present.

Mayor’s Report / Subcommittee Reports

The Mayor’s Report at this week’s meeting was merged with the moment of silence, so that Mayor Becky Brink could dedicate it to the memory of Springvale resident Harland Eastman.

Eastman was President of the Sanford-Springvale Historical Society, a member of the Springvale Public Library Board, and “a driving force behind establishing the historical museum,” according to Brink. She also praised the books Eastman had published about the history of the Sanford-Springvale area as “beautifully done.”

Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy added “The effort that gentleman made to preserve the history of Sanford-Springvale was extraordinary, and I think we should all be very grateful that he’s done the work he has, because we have a great historical society and a great museum, and it’s all due to his very strong efforts.”

Read “Harland Eastman, A Man of the World Remembered,” here: https://sanfordspringvalenews.com/harland-eastman-a-man-of-the-world-remembered/.

Herlihy commented on a retroactive moratorium for a development near Sand Pond, requested by residents. She said the issue will be discussed at the Zoning Subcommittee meeting on March 12.

There were no Subcommittee Reports.

Minutes

The City Council approved the minutes from the regular City Council meeting held Feb. 20, 2024. Councilor Nathan Hitchcock abstained, as he was not present for said meeting.

City Manager’s Report

City Manager Steve Buck started his report with an acknowledgement of the passing of Senator Susan Collins’ mother. “If you want to know where the senator gets her leadership qualities from, you had to meet her mom,” remarked Buck, who had worked with Senator Collins’ mother in Caribou.

Buck mentioned several bills in the legislature that are being monitored by the city. These include:

  • A bill to establish a Maine CDC Injury and Violence Prevention Program.
  • A bill to strengthen the state’s mental health system through “establishing statewide crisis receiving centers” and supporting Mobile Crisis Teams with funding of $2.8 million dollars.
  • A bill to increase Medicaid and MaineCare transport reimbursements to be on a par with Medicare rates.
  • A bill to require ambulance services to report operating costs, to bolster the previously mentioned bill.
  • A bill to “Increase Reimbursement Under the General Assistance Program.”

Sanford is continuing to search for grants to fund improvement of the city’s traffic deficiencies. Sanford does not meet the number of traffic fatalities threshold needed to secure the largest Safety Construction Grant from federal authorities. The city is focusing on acquiring planning grants and technology demonstration grants in order to improve the city’s traffic system.

Public Works Director Matt Hill has secured another Planning Partnership Initiative with the Maine DOT concerning future work on and around the South Sanford roundabout.

On Feb. 28, the Maine Department of Community and Economic Development came to Sanford to hear about the City’s planning process.

A public hearing concerning the renewal of the city’s Cable TV Franchise contract with Breezeline will be held at 6 pm on April 30. According to Buck, “This will provide a forum for people to express their concerns, to be addressed during the franchise renewal.”

Buck attended the inaugural meeting of the Maine Defense Industry Alliance, at the York County Community College Campus in Sanford, on March 1. More about the meeting here: https://sanfordspringvalenews.com/maine-defense-industry-alliance-announced-in-sanford/

Homelessness Update

The city is tracking a bill, currently in the legislature, that would allot $12 million to support homeless shelters. $2 million of that amount would be set aside for low barrier shelters. Many homeless shelters in the state are struggling to stay open, for lack of funds.

Additionally, $16 million dollars has been set aside in the Governer’s Supplemental Budget to “ensure that winter warming shelters, lower barrier shelters, longer term shelters, and transitional housing programs can remain open, operating, and supporting the emergency housing needs of Maine people.”

The Lafeyette Warming Center continues to be at capacity, housing 44 people. The Warming Center is scheduled to close May 1, but other services, such as free meals and the Peer Support Center, will remain open.

York County Community Action, Sanford Housing Authority, and the York County Shelter Program are working together to try to get some of the homeless population into housing. According to Buck “Sanford Housing Authority has placed 78 unhoused people in the past 12 months.”

Communications/Presentations

Hill presented a commendation to Sanford Public Works Employee Cal Bond. More details can be read here: https://sanfordspringvalenews.com/sanford-public-works-employee-receives-commendation-from-city/

Public Participation

Stephanie Jopling addressed the Council regarding her concerns involving the potential cut of the Alternative Education program at Sanford High School. Jopling explained how much the program has benefited her family as well as others in the community, and expressed her worries over what would happen to the students benefiting from the program if it was eliminated.

Public Hearings

A public hearing was held on the approval of a Marijuana Manufacturing license at 72 Emery Street, Unit 212, Sanford, ME. There were no comments. The license was granted under the Consent Agenda without comment.

A public hearing was held on a proposed amendment to the Sanford Design District Overlay Zones Ordinance. City Planner Erin Moriarty spoke in favor of the amendment. Later in the meeting, a first reading was held. Moriarty said the amendments are meant to be “business friendly” and will speed up the process for approving commercial signage and other matters affecting the downtown.

A public hearing was held on changes to the Airport Article II Rules and Regulations City Ordinance, with Airport Manager Allison Navia speaking in favor of the changes. The Council approved the changes.

A public hearing was held on a proposed ordinance “establishing standards for the abatement of blighted buildings as a category of vacant buildings.” Community Development Director Ian Houseal explained that the ordinance was targeted at long-vacant commercial properties downtown, including the Sanford Trust Building and the former Hoozs/Appliance Pro store. The proposed ordinance will be further refined at the March 13 Land Bank meeting before coming back to the Council.

Old Business

The following items were approved by the council:

  • The amendment to the Urban Zone Ordinance.
  • The addition of the Affordable Housing Density Bonus to Chapter 280 of the Sanford City Ordinance.

New Business

The following items were approved by the Council:

  • An amendment to the lease between the City of Sanford and Northern Maine Community College to extend NMCC’s usage of unused portions of Sanford Airport for commercial driver’s license training.
  • A resolution to enroll Sanford in the Community Resilience Partnership. This is part of the “Maine Won’t Wait” climate change initiative.
  • A bid on a new pickup truck, to be used for site inspections. The bid was presented to the city council by Code Enforcement Officer Jamie Cole. It was accepted 5-1, with Councilor Ayn Hanselmann dissenting.

Hanselmann shared her thoughts with the Council. “We have an F-250, I think, at the Fire Department that I think is underutilized, and I really would like us as a Council and as our department heads to continue to think about ways we can impact our budget by using things to their best use; And I don’t know that that’s happening with that truck. I feel like this could have been a good opportunity to shift that vehicle to a CIP reduction, which we could use to offset other expenses.”

Cole informed the council that he had reached out to the Fire Department, but they were unable “to make that transfer happen.”

Future Agenda Items

In the future the council will discuss issues regarding the previous Farmers Market. The council discussed reported disruptions to market operations caused by parkgoers. The council will examine whether people who rent out the park for events have exclusive rights to the park.

Councilor Jonathan Martell encouraged the Sanford Sewerage District to implement an electronic billing option. Councilor Nathan Hitchcock, who sits on the Sewerage District Board, said that these efforts are underway.

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