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Subcommittee Reports: January 2024

Pine Tree Helicopters

Photo: Pine Tree Helicopters

By Zendelle Bouchard

Three of the City Council’s Subcommittees met Jan. 9, 2024. For info from the Public Safety Subcommittee meeting, see the Police Department Update and Fire Department Update.

Municipal Operations and Property Subcommittee

Mayor Becky Brink and Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy attended. Councilor Ayn Hanselmann was out of town on vacation.

Flavored Tobacco Products Ban: See separate story.

Pine Tree Helicopters: Allison Navia, Manager of the Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport, joined the meeting to explain proposed amendments to the Operating Rights Agreement between the City and Pine Tree Helicopters. The company is expanding and wants to buy a new larger helicopter to be able to do charter flights, which they can’t do with their existing equipment. The proposal will come forward to the full City Council.

Airport Rules Update: Navia said a proposed revision to the Airport Rules and Regulations section of the City Code will finish the complete overhaul of the Airport chapter. One change will provide the ability to investigate and enforce any rules violations, although she said fortunately there hasn’t been an issue with Airport users breaking rules. She asked for feedback on how an appeals process would be handled. City Manager Steve Buck said he handles appeals for General Assistance and the Sanford Housing Authority and would be willing to do it for the Airport as well. Another change will remove all gendered pronouns from the chapter. The current version refers to the Airport Manager as “he” in many places. The proposed revision will go to the full Council after legal review.

Memorial Gym: In the latest chapter of the discussion on rental fees for Veterans Memorial Gym, Parks and Recreation Director Brady Lloyd presented comparables from other southern Maine recreational facilities and proposed a compromise of $1,200 for Sanford residents to rent the entire building for the full day, with a rate of $1,800 for nonresidents. A cleaning fee would also be charged. All agreed this was a fair rate, and it will go before the full Council for a vote. Buck suggested the City consider purchasing tables, which can be a big expense for groups that have to rent them separately. Lloyd said he wasn’t sure there was any place to store them, but he would look into it.

Zoning Subcommittee

Councilor Bob Stackpole and Deputy Mayor Herlihy attended.

ADUs and Residential Zones: The three zoning amendments that had a first reading at the last Council meeting were on the agenda, but no additional changes were made. They will have a final reading and vote at the Jan. 16 Council meeting.

Density Bonus: Planner Erin Moriarty introduced the final proposed zoning change in response to the state law known as LD2003. She said everything that is being proposed is mandated by that legislation. There are two major changes to Sanford’s current ordinance:

  • In any district where multi-family housing is allowed, an affordable housing development (as defined by law) will be allowed to build up to 2.5 times the base density of the zone. In other words, on a lot that currently allows up to 10 dwelling units, a developer will be able to build 25 dwelling units if affordable housing criteria are met.
  • The other change is to the parking requirement. The ordinance will read “In no instance shall the required parking exceed two parking spaces for every three dwelling units.” This is a change from Sanford’s current ordinance, which bases the parking requirement on the number of bedrooms. City Manager Buck said the parking issue “will bite us in the long term” and said he hoped the legislature would amend this provision.

Urban Setback: An amendment is also being proposed to the front setback requirement in the Urban Zone. The front setback is currently set at a minimum of 20’ from the street if no uniform setback relationship exists. “Uniform setback relationship” means that developers can use an average of surrounding buildings if those are closer than 20’ to the street, for example, in the downtown where many of the buildings are right at the sidewalk. The Planning Department would like to change the 20’ minimum to a 20’ maximum. Planning Director Jamie Cole said the setback has become an issue with several projects in the last year. He said the minimum 20’ setback was an error that was made years ago, and this change would correct it.

The Density Bonus and Urban Setback will have a first reading and discussion at the City Council meeting on Feb. 6.

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