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South Portland Community Newsletter

Issue 277

This City of South Portland Community E-Newsletter includes information about Ciy sponsored events, projects and special announcements from South Portland's non-profit community.    Sign up if you would like to receive the newsletter directly to your inbox.
Having difficulty viewing the newsletter?  The newsletter and archives are posted on the City's website here.   Please report broken links to news@southportland.org.

Mobile Users: Click on any image to enlarge it for easier viewing! 

All municipal offices will be closed on Monday, February 17 for Presidents' Day.

South Portland Property Tax Assistance Program 
For information on qualifications, click here.

  Download the application for 2019/2020 and follow the instructions below.

  1. Fully complete the application.  Both sides of the application must be completed. Make sure that you sign the application.  Incomplete applications will not be processed.
     
  2. Attach a signed copy of your 2019 Form 1040ME, including Schedule PTFC (Property Tax Fairness Credit).
     
  3. Return the application to:

City of South Portland
Attn:  Vicki Inman
P.O. Box 9422
South Portland, ME 04116


Applications must be received on or before May 1, 2020.

Municipal Assessing Revaluation
Requests Your Help!

from the City Assessor's Office

The City is in the process of updating all real estate property values for 2020.

Significant changes have occurred in the real estate market in South Portland (and the region) in recent years. Updating these property values is necessary to ensure equity amongst all properties, as some are being assessed well below market value when compared to others. This is not only a fairness issue but a state law issue, as well.

This effort will lead to new assessments for all properties on April 1, 2020 for the tax year that begins in July 2020.


The City's Assessor presented an update on this process at the February 11 City Council Meeting. 

 

In order to help ensure the proper assessments are made, the Assessor's office is seeking the help of all property owners to check their property information contained within the Assessor's database and correct and errors: 
  • Visit http://gis.vgsi.com/southportlandme/ and then choose "Enter Online Database
     
  • Search for your property by address, owner’s name, or the Assessor’s map and lot number.
     
  • Review the “Building Attributes” in the “Building Information” section, including the sketch shown in the “Building Layout” section. 
If any discrepancies are found, property owners should contact the Assessing office at smnadeau@southportland.org or at 207-767-7604.  Those without internet access can stop by the Assessor’s Building adjacent to City Hall to review the property card information.
Election Information
 
The Maine Presidential Primary (Democratic and Republican) and Special State Referendum will be held on March 3, 2020

Absentee ballots arrived on January 30.   You may request your absentee ballot online, by telephone, or at the City Clerk's office anytime from now until February 27.  Voters may also stop into the City Clerk's office during normal business hours and vote an absentee ballot in person.   To request your absentee ballot, click here

All polling places will be open on March 3, 2020 from 7:00am until 8:00pm.

 
The Bus Service will be offering FREE RIDES on election day to help voters get to the polls. 
A few important reminders about a Primary Election:
  • Anyone currently enrolled in a party (D, R or G) and wishing to *change* parties must do so at least 15 days before Election Day (February 14) in order to participate in the Primary election for that party.
     
  • Anyone not registered to vote, and anyone currently Unenrolled (not enrolled in any political party, sometimes referred to as “independent”) may enroll up to and on Election Day at the polling place and vote.
     
  • Only voters enrolled in a party will receive that party’s primary candidate ballot. All voters, regardless of party enrollment, will receive the referendum ballot.
     
  • You may call (207-767-3201) or stop by the City Clerk's office to confirm your voter registration status and party enrollment, and may stop by the Clerk's office to update your voter registration.
A Change to the Zoning Ordinance
that May Affect You

by Tex Haeuser, Director of Planning & Development
On February 26th the Planning Board will hold a public hearing on a proposed zoning text amendment that would end the ability of a property owner to substitute one nonconforming use for another. 

Let’s say, for example, that you have a lot in the Residential A zoning district, and that the use on the lot is a store.  The store is a “nonconforming use” because stores aren’t allowed in the A zone.  (It could have been there before that area was zoned Residential A.)  Although nonconforming, the store is legal—it’s “grandfathered”—because the use was there before the zoning requirements for that area changed.  Now let’s say that the store leaves or ceases operations for two or more years.  The current zoning rules would allow you to replace the store with another nonconforming use, such as an auto repair garage, if the Board of Appeals finds that the new use (the garage) wouldn’t have any worse impacts on the neighborhood—like traffic, noise, etc.—than the original use (the store).  If, after the Planning Board hearing, the City Council adopts the proposed zoning text amendment, you would no longer have the ability to replace a nonconforming use (the store) with another nonconforming use (the garage).  You could only replace it with one of the uses listed in the Residential A zoning district regulations as being a Permitted or Special Exception use.  To give you a sense of the range of available uses, the allowed A zone uses include:  single-family homes; churches; schools; libraries; museums; fire stations; municipal buildings and uses; public utility facilities; nursing homes; funeral homes and cemeteries; beauty parlors; recreational or community activity buildings; commercial greenhouses; telephone answering services; solar energy arrays; and adaptive reuse.  (Adaptive reuse is a recent addition that seeks to preserve historic buildings by letting them be used for other uses not listed in the zone.)
The need for this zoning text amendment became apparent as part of a City Council requested investigation into various concerns in the Cash Corner neighborhood related to the impact of business and industry on nearby residential neighborhoods.  A large portion of Cash Corner is zoned Residential A, which makes sense because there is a large neighborhood there of single-family homes.  In some cases, however, there are lots in that A zone that have grandfathered nonconforming uses.  People understand when a business or other nonconforming use has been there for a long time, and they are willing to live with the inconveniences that go along with being next to or nearby one of these uses.  What is less easy to comprehend is why, when that facility leaves or goes out of business, it is possible to bring in another nonresidential use that will continue to impact the neighborhood.

Most communities in Maine do not allow the substitution of one nonconforming use for another like South Portland currently does.  The proposed zoning text amendment would fix this.
 
The Planning Board hearing will be on Wednesday, February 26th, in the City Hall Council Chambers; the meeting starts at 7:00 PM.  At the conclusion of the hearing the Planning Board will vote on what recommendation to make to the City Council about the proposed amendment.  After the Planning Board hearing the proposal goes to the City Council for a series of meetings that will at a minimum include two public hearings.  The Council meetings have not yet been scheduled.
 
For more information, please contact Tex Haeuser,
Planning Director, at chaeuser@southportland.org
Cash Corner Fire Station Project Update:
The old Cash Corner Fire Station will be demolished this month, with construction of the new Fire Station starting in April.
   

Coffee With A Cop
 
Date: February 19, 2020
Time: 9:00 am to 11:00 am
Location: Rwanda Bean
185 Cottage Road
South Portland, ME 04106
The City of South Portland adopted a Street Light Policy on January 14, 2020. Property owners may request the installation of a new streetlight provided that it is on an existing utility pole, or may request to have their streetlight dimmed or turned off. Read More
The Transfer Facility has a new fee schedule effective November 1, 2019. 



The Transfer Facility will require resident permit stickers starting January 2020.  These stickers are now available at Public Works (Municipal Services Facility, 929 Highland Avenue) and at City Hall (25 Cottage Road).  

To obtain your resident Transfer Facility sticker: 
Please bring both your driver's license and vehicle registration as proof of South Portland residency. Limit 2 stickers per residence. The first sticker is free; the second costs $5.00.

Contractor Stickers:
Contractor's stickers are also available, and cost $150.00 (additional stickers are $20 per vehicle). A contractor's permit authorizes the contractor to dispose of yard debris from a South Portland residence. No other use is permitted. The residence being serviced will also require a permit, and its permit number must be referenced at the time of disposal.

Please click here to view the new fee schedule and review information regarding the new sticker system. 
 
The City's Winter Parking Ban is in effect from December 1 to April 1. During the winter months, public parking lots at Waterman Drive and the Boat Launch at Bug Light Park are available for city residents and their guests to temporarily park during the winter parking ban.   Residents and guests are asked to move their cars as soon as possible from these locations after storms so that the areas may be plowed.

Sec. 23-12. Prohibited placement of snow and ice
Effective December 3, 2019, with the passage of Ordinance #11:
 
No person shall remove, or cause to be removed, any snow or ice from any private property and place, or cause to be placed, the same on any public street or sidewalk. No person shall remove, or cause to be removed, any snow or ice from any private property and place, or cause to be placed, the same on any public or private property located across the street from that person’s lot or parcel of land. A property owner utilizing an agent or contractor for snow and/or ice removal is liable for the actions of the property owner’s agent or contractor.
Here are some ways that you can help to make a winter storm event easier on both yourself and on the Public Works Crews:
  •  Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter driving conditions (snow or all season tires, good wiper blades, a good battery, added weight in the trunk, etc.);
  • Allow yourself additional driving time to arrive at your destination;
  • Reduce speed (even 4x4's have difficulty stopping on ice);
  • Watch for black ice, especially on bridges and overpasses. Always take caution when traveling in these areas;
  • Do not drive during storms unless it is absolutely necessary;
  • Leave adequate distance, at least 200 feet, whenever following a piece of snow removal equipment;
  • When a storm is imminent, please remove vehicles from roadsides, so crews can perform their services effectively. The Public Works Department can perform a more thorough job in a lot less time if vehicles are not parked on the streets and roadways.
  • Be patient and courteous. Everyone around you is under the same conditions and stress that you are experiencing.
SAND BUCKETS FOR SENIORS
 
A new program from South Portland Public Works and Age Friendly South Portland hopes to make winter a little safer. Seniors (aged 65+), and any other residents with mobility challenges, can receive a five gallon bucket of sand/salt mix, delivered to their home, to help maintain their steps and walkways. To order your Sand Bucket, please call Public Works (207) 767-7635, or email publicworks@southportland.org. Sand Buckets for Seniors is a free service, with costs being underwritten by the Senior Steering Implementation Committee, South Portland Public Works, and South Portland Professional Firefighters Local 1476. Stay safe!
Youth Ice Fishing Derby – Feb. 29th (9am-12pm) 
Father Daughter Dance – March 14th (6-8pm)

Register at sopoparksrec.com

 
Are you looking for a volunteer opportunity?
The City is seeking applicants to fill vacancies on several different
City Boards and Committees. 

If interested in serving, fill out an application online or in the City Clerk's office.  Applications are sent to City Councilors who then nominate and appoint members to the committees.  To view all Boards and Committees, click here.
 
Employment Opportunities

Looking for a career?  The City of South Portland is hiring for several positions.  View the current job openings and learn how to apply online here.  

Positions opening soon for seasonal employment! Openings may include positions in Summer Camp; Lifeguards; Parks and Public Works Department Seasonal Groundskeepers; Boat Ramp Attendants; Turf and Event Management; and several possible Internships, such as in Stormwater Management, Sustainability, and Economic Development. Check periodically online at our website www.southportland.org under Human Resources, or request information about opportunities you are seeking to apply@southportland.org . Consider working for our community and spread the word about our open positions!

To register to receive Emergency Notification Alerts related to your neighborhood, follow this link:  http://www.southportland.org/departments/police-department/code-red/

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For a schedule of all City Meetings, Events, Public Hearings & Current Notices, please visit the City Calendar on the City's website.
The City of South Portland Community Newsletter is published by the City of South Portland.  It is a compilation of the best available information at the time of publication.  Events may be subject to change without notice in the time between publication of this e-newsletter and the actual event.  To send information to be considered for inclusion into this newsletter, send to news@southportland.org.
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