Subcommittee Reports

Four of the City Council’s Subcommittees met via Zoom on Tuesday, August 8. Here is a summary of what was discussed at each meeting.

Municipal Operations and Property

Road paving: Public Works Director Matt Hill updated the Subcommittee on the Capital Improvements Plan. He said the additional roads that got paved this year, outside of the CIP, were able to be done because the Department had some leftover funds in the budget. He described some of the roads as “perennial pothole problems,” while another was in bad enough shape that residents had conducted a write-in campaign to get it fixed. The roads were Whipple, Greenaway, Highland and Lucerne in Springvale, as well as Oak Ridge Road and Stoney Bridge Road in Sanford. He updated the Subcommittee on the reconstruction work on Mount Hope Road and Railroad Ave., as well as the ongoing road striping.

Westside Village: Mr. Hill reported that the Westside Village start date had been moved a few times, but the contractor now expects to begin in late August. The staging area will be on Kimball St. by Benton Playground. He has continued to work at getting temporary easements from property owners in the project area, so their driveways can be properly tied in to the project, but some have not responded while others have flat out refused. Their refusal will not hold up the project, he said, but it means they will have to assume any risks involved with not granting the easement, including personally bearing the cost of connecting their driveways to the new roadway surface. Drainage problems may be another risk. Recalcitrant property owners may change their minds at any time and grant the easement to avoid these issues.

Berwick/Twombley intersection: Mr. Hill updated the Subcommittee on the progress toward realigning the intersection at Berwick Ave. and Twombley Rd. (pictured above), which is part of the Westside Village project. The City hopes to negotiate the purchase of part of the property owned by David Orlandella, so that the end of Berwick Ave. can tee up with Twombley, creating a safer intersection with an easier turn for drivers turning right onto Berwick.

Weight limit: The Subcommittee also discussed instituting a weight limit for the smaller side roads in that area, to prevent the damage to the streets from reoccurring once they are reconstructed. Mr. Hill said his research indicates that a fully loaded 18-wheeler does the same amount of damage as 9,600 cars. City Manager Steven Buck said a weight limit is part of the work being done by the Mineral Extraction Task Force, but that it will be a general weight restriction, not targeting just gravel pit operators.

Mousam Promenade: The Subcommittee also got an update on plans for the Mousam Promenade, which will be a 10-foot wide pedestrian/bike path around Number One Pond. The project is being split into two phases. The east side of the Promenade, along River St., is planned to be constructed next year. It is being funded mostly with state money. The west side, which will follow William Oscar Emery Dr. and Riverside Ave., is being partially funded through a federal grant from the Safe Routes to School program. Because there are additional procedures that go along with federal funding, construction of this section is planned for 2023. Mr. Hill said the first public hearing on the project, which will include a digital presentation, will be coming up “pretty soon.”

Public Safety

Overnight parking: The Public Safety Subcommittee reviewed a proposed amendment to Chapter 235 of the City Code, banning overnight parking of commercial vehicles, tractors, trailers, boats, campers/RVs, ATVs, snowmobiles and unregistered vehicles on city streets, unless specifically permitted by the Chief of Police. The penalty for the first offense would be a warning; second offense a $50 fine; and the third offense would be towing and impoundment.

Mr. Buck said the City has had many complaints about vehicles including tractor trailers, campers and boats parked on the street in residential neighborhoods, sometimes for months on end. Code Enforcement Officer Jamie Cole said there are four specific roads that his department gets weekly calls about. He said there is no zoning ordinance that applies, so he tells callers to contact the Police Department if they feel a traffic law is being broken.

Chief of Police Craig Andersen responded that he is only aware of one or two of these, so callers may not be following through. He would like to have the Department look into these four and see if they can be addressed through existing ordinances or state laws. He also pointed out that the phrase “commercial vehicles” is too broad, that many people have cars and pickup trucks with commercial registrations which are not a problem.

City Councilor Ayn Hanselmann said community members who have limited parking should be taken into consideration, and a blanket approach to the problem might not be the best solution. She said crafting a more targeted ordinance, perhaps one that allows parking in front of your own property during the summer season, would allow people to have easy access to their recreational vehicles.

City Councilor Jonathan Martell agreed with Councilor Hanselmann that this might target too many people, rather than the few that are generating all the complaints.

City Manager Steven Buck disagreed, saying that he has an issue with city streets constantly being used for storage of vehicles. He said what is appropriate to be parked on the street, and what is not, should be clearly defined so the Police Department has the tools to do their work. He pointed out that if people can store their RVs during the off-season, they can store them during the summer season too.

Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio said she also doesn’t think the streets should be used as storage, but that she wanted this proposed language tightened up a little before it moves forward. Mr. Buck said they will do some more work on it and bring it back to the Subcommittee again for review.

Road closures: The Subcommittee recommended approving several road closures for community events:

  • School St. from Washington to Bodwell on August 26 from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. for the Police Department’s National Night Out
  • Stanley Rd. on September 4 from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. for Randall’s Run for the Gym
  • William Oscar Emery Drive, Riverside Ave. and Pioneer Ave. on September 25 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for the Sanford Bike Fest

These will go to the City Council for final approval.

Police Department: The Subcommittee heard from Chief Andersen and Deputy Chief Eric Small with updates on recent Department activities:

  • The Southern Maine Special Response Team, of which Sanford is the lead agency, assisted the Maine State Police with executing a search warrant on Coley Trafton Rd. in Shapleigh. They encountered 28 people with over 20 vehicles, in various states of opioid intoxication. Seven were arrested.
  • The Department is making progress with the new Power DMS and LexisNexis systems, and expects to have both up and running soon.
  • An arrest was made on July 19 regarding a string of burglaries. An employee of Sanford Housing Authority noticed someone going through cars in a parking lot. DC Small credited officers on the midnight shift for their quick response.
  • Officer Christopher Brown will be the new Elderly Services Officer for the Department, part of the Community Policing initiative.
  • 23 applications have been received from community members expressing interest in joining the Police Department’s new Citizen Advisory Group.
  • DC Small introduced Detective Colleen Adams, who is the new Community Outreach Coordinator, and Carly Flagg, a clinician from Sweetser, who comprise the Department’s new Mental Health Unit. See separate story.

Sign: The Subcommittee also heard a proposal from Chief Andersen to put a sign on Main St. directing people to the Police Station, similar to the one on Roberts St. He said he has had complaints from people who have had difficulty finding it. Mayor Mastraccio suggested giving a street name to the driveway might also help.

Zoning

Rezoning: The Zoning Subcommittee heard the proposal to rezone the former Nasson dormitory property off Summer St. in Springvale from Single Family Residential to Urban. See previous story. There was consensus to move it forward to the full City Council for a public hearing next month.

Lagooning: A proposed moratorium on lagooning and/or the creation of ponds at gravel pits was discussed. Planning Director Beth Della Valle said the moratorium was a prudent move while the new Mineral Extraction ordinance is being developed. Dave Parent, Superintendent of the Sanford Water District, described how a pond that was created on New Dam Rd., despite the opposition of the City and the Water District, resulted in contaminating one of the City’s water supply wells and led to years of litigation. The moratorium would be in place for 180 days, and could be extended if necessary, or lifted sooner if the ordinance is done before then. The Subcommittee recommended forwarding it to the full Council for public hearings and approval.

Short-term rentals: Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy suggested the Subcommittee look at possible regulation of short-term rentals, such as AirBnB. Although the homes in Sanford and Springvale that are currently being rented out on a nightly basis (there are several) are not known to be causing any problems, other communities in Maine and New Hampshire have found they can lead to disturbances in residential neighborhoods if they proliferate and no regulations are in place. Councilor Bob Stackpole agreed that it is time to discuss possible regulation. Councilor Hanselmann said she owns a short-term rental property and also agreed it is wise to look at it before it becomes an issue in Sanford.

Solid Waste

Landfill: Mr. Hill reported to the Subcommittee about the Rushton St. landfill. When brown grass was noticed in some small areas of the landfill cover last year, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection did some spot testing that revealed the presence of methane gas. The Public Works Department has come up with a plan to install additional gas vents to mitigate the concerns. The soil and concrete that is removed to install the new vents will need to be trucked out to a landfill either in Westbrook or Juniper Ridge. After the new vents are installed, the PWD will reseed and fertilize to grow new grass.

Mr. Buck explained that this is the final stage of prep work that is required before the new Nautilus Solar project is built on top of the landfill.

Recycling: In the other item on the agenda, Mr. Buck told the Subcommittee that Sanford has been accepted into the EcoMaine Recycling Tagging program (see this story for details) and it will begin in September and continue into October.

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