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By Zendelle Bouchard

At the August 8, 2023 meeting of the Land Bank Commission, Community Development Coordinator Ian Houseal led a discussion on several Sanford and Springvale properties the Land Bank is dealing with.

8 York St.: City officials have been working on issues related to this property for a few years. In 2021 the Council approved legal action to force the removal of junk vehicles on the property, which were removed in May 2022. That resulted in a special tax of about $3,000 to recoup the expense, which has not been paid. On October 4 of that year, the Council declared it a Dangerous Building under state law, but there are still people living in the building as well as in tents in the back yard. A lengthy discussion followed on how the City’s Disorderly House ordinance might be put to use in cases like this. Houseal said he was waiting for the York County Sheriff’s Department to provide notice of service. 21 days after the owner is served, Sanford Police will clear the property of occupants and a lock will be put on the building. (As of the last week of August, the YCSD has been unsuccessful in serving the property owner, so will post a notice on the property instead, which will serve the same purpose. The tents and some of the junk vehicles have been removed since the August 8 meeting.)

Downtown Storefronts: There was discussion about vacant commercial space downtown, including 907 Main St., the former site of Hooz’s and Appliance Pro. Houseal explained that the owner, White Bark Properties, is focused on apartment rentals and has little interest in fixing up the commercial space. (He noted that White Bark also owns the former Sleeper’s Market building on Lebanon St. and the owner is exploring ways to convert the vacant retail space into one or more apartments.) City Manager Steve Buck said a combination of “carrot and stick” approaches should be looked at to encourage landlords to get vacant commercial spaces ready for tenants, as there is demand in the area. These could include more aggressive enforcement of code violations or a vacant commercial space license as a “stick” and a possible credit enhancement agreement to provide a financial incentive or “carrot.”

Other nearby vacant spaces include the former Chamber of Commerce space, which is planned to become the future home of the Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council. Buck said the bids for renovating the space came in at three times the budget, so the project is being redesigned. The former Bergeron’s Shoe Store has also been vacant for some time.

145 Deering Neighborhood Rd.: The single-family home was ordered vacated and the tenant has moved out. Code Enforcement Officer Aaron Lederer said the owners wanted to sell the property but it would need extensive rehabilitation. CEO Jeannie Wood said the building would be a teardown in her opinion due to the extent of the mold.

148 New Dam Rd.: The mobile home on this property has also been ordered vacated due to electrical hazards, egress hazards and sanitation problems. Lederer said the owners plan to get the electrical and cleanup work done to make it habitable again. Two campers in the back yard that were being used as additional housing were also ordered vacated until they can be cleaned up.

Upcoming Dangerous Building Hearings: Houseal said he has three properties ready to take to the City Council on Sept. 19:

  • 21 Grove St. in Springvale, which he called “a fire hazard” and “a nuisance in the neighborhood”
  • 144 Stanley Rd., where the owner has piled insulation exposed to the elements
  • 217 Old Mill Rd., which is a partially collapsed building.
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