Subcommittee Reports: March 9, 2021

Four City Council Subcommittees met on Tuesday, March 9. This is a brief summary of some of the items discussed at each.

Municipal Operations and Property

The Subcommittee heard from Airport Manager Allison Navia about two parcels of City-owned land at the Airport that are not needed for aviation purposes. She is proposing to sell .82 acres to Rubb, Inc. and 5.25 acres to Flemish Master Weavers, which would enable both of those businesses to expand. Funds from the sale will help offset the cost of maintenance equipment for the solar project. After the sale, the parcels would become taxable property for the City. The City will retain a right-of-way across one of the properties from Gatehouse Road to the shooting range.

Public Works Director Matt Hill presented a request to accept bids for a new 10-wheel truck with plow and sander. The truck needs to be ordered soon for it to be received in time for next winter. Funds will come from next year’s Capital Improvement Plan.

Both of these items will be forwarded to the full City Council for discussion and approval at the March 16 meeting.

Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio spoke about a complaint she received from a disabled person who couldn’t access the handicapped parking spaces at the Sanford Post Office due to ice and snow on the sidewalk. The person complained to the Post Office, and was told it was the City’s responsibility. Mr. Hill clarified that Mousam Street sidewalks are not maintained by the City. Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy said the Post Office used to take good care of their sidewalks, but that function was probably cut from their budget. Community Development Director Ian Houseal pointed out that many other Maine municipalities have ordinances requiring property owners to clear the sidewalks in front of their homes and businesses. City Manager Steven Buck said it is a safety issue, as people will walk in the street if the sidewalks are not clear. All were in agreement to begin work on an ordinance, beginning with the commercial district.

Public Safety

Mr. Buck reported the latest updates regarding Covid-19, including the Moving Maine Forward plan. He criticized the state’s handling of teacher vaccinations, which has created a lot of confusion, Atlantic Federal Credit Union has been added to the list of Sanford outbreak sites.

There was discussion of the continued violations of the mask ordinance and Governor’s executive orders by the Calvary Baptist Church and Sanford Christian Academy. Code Enforcement Officer Jamie Cole reported there was a funeral and buffet reception at the church this past weekend with more than 200 people in attendance, with no regard for masks, social distancing or other safety measures. Police Chief Thomas Connolly said the state attorney general’s office does not want to go after churches for non-compliance.

Deputy Police Chief Craig Andersen reported on some of the Police Department’s recent activities, which include:

  • Over a pound of cocaine seized in conjunction with a drug investigation. DPC Andersen said the Department’s partnership with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency is paying dividends.
  • Also with the DEA, an interstate drugs-for-guns operation was cracked, in which stolen and otherwise illegally obtained guns were being taken to Massachusetts and New York and traded for narcotics, which were brought back to Sanford to be sold.
  • A suspect wanted by the US Marshals on federal charges was arrested by Sanford officers while investigating a shoplifting call at two retailers in the City.
  •  Officers and detectives are currently investigating the suspected overdose death of a person found in the woods between the DPW and Emery St.
  • Officers and detectives investigating the theft of over $100,000 from a local retailer
  • Work has progressed on an online crime reporting system, which will make it easier for residents to report crimes and for the Department to access those reports

DPC Andersen also discussed catalytic converter thefts, which have become a problem across the country due to the high value of rare earth elements which are used in their manufacture. He said these cases are difficult to prosecute because the devices cannot be tracked to a specific vehicle.

Police Chief Connolly talked about the implicit bias training that is mandatory for all Sanford police officers. He said he actively looks for new training opportunities to improve the Department.

At its next meeting on March 23, the Subcommittee will discuss how to have Memorial Day and Fourth of July celebrations safely.

Zoning

There was lengthy discussion about how to move forward with possible retail marijuana sales. There are only eight properties in Sanford where marijuana cultivation and processing are allowed, encompassing about 30 individual businesses. Three of those properties are not zoned for any kind of retail operation. The Subcommittee will focus on developing a proposed ordinance to allow retail marijuana sales in the other five, but all members were in agreement to strictly limit the number of retail licenses that will be available. The discussion will continue at the next meeting on March 23.

The Subcommittee finalized plans for a joint meeting with the Planning Board on March 23 as well.

Solid Waste

The Subcommittee went over the proposed changes to the ordinance that covers fees for the Pay-As-You-Throw trash bags and other solid waste fees. The proposed changes increase the price of PAYT bags from $13.50 per sleeve to $14.50 per sleeve. There was discussion about how to explain to the public that the PAYT bags do not generate revenue for the city, but only partially offset the cost of disposing of our trash and recycling. If the PAYT bag program was eliminated, funds the City now receives from the sale of the bags – more than a million dollars – would have to be raised through property taxes instead. The PAYT program also reduces illegal dumping and encourages recycling, saving the taxpayers money.

Another proposed change to the ordinance is defining “inert reusable debris” as asphalt, concrete (without reinforcement or asbestos) and brick. The Public Works Department recommends removing the maximum allowed amount, as these materials can be reused in road construction projects.