2017-10-05 / Letters

Volunteers needed to serve on city committees

To the editor:

You don’t have to run for public office to make a difference in the city of Saco. You can, instead, volunteer to serve on one of the many committees, commissions and boards. These groups work with city administration and the city council, providing recommendations and necessary information in specific areas, used in the decision making process.

Committees may be formed for a specific issue or event or may be ongoing. Board, commission and committee members are appointed by the mayor and approved by the council, and are usually for specific term lengths. You may have to wait for a vacancy if your particular interest is currently filled. All committee meetings are open to the public. Check with the city administrator’s office on scheduled meeting location, dates and times.

Boards, commissions and committees that require resident participation are as follows:

 Age Friendly Saco Steering Committee: Developed to seek an AARP grant in conjunction with making Saco an “Age Friendly Community” for people of all ages. The committee has focused on resources and unmet needs observed. The committee is planning the programming and infrastructure necessary to bringing this to fruition. The committee meets monthly. Board of Assessment Review: The board is charged with the review of tax appeals. Taxpayers filed a writing concern regarding the tax assessment assessed by the city’s tax assessor. The appeal process must occur within 60 days from the date the appeal was filed. Five members serve on this board for five-year terms.

Coastal Water Commission: This commission meets monthly with the purpose of studying and evaluating public usage and boating access to coastal waters under the jurisdiction of the city of Saco. It consists of seven members and a council liaison

Conservation Commission: This commission serves as an adviser to the city council, planning board and zoning board of appeals on issues that deal with the environment. It catalogs valuable natural features of the city of Saco and works in the interest of their protection. The group interacts with other conservation organizations, state agencies and public works. The commission participates in coastal cleanup projects, conducts a beach profile study, a water quality program and Gaterucella beetle Project. The commission currently has 11 members and meets each month on the first Monday.

Comprehensive Plan Update and Review Committee: The committee was established to update and review the city’s comprehensive plan. Membership: two members from the city council, two members from the planning board, a member from the Economic Development Commission, five members from the public, city planner, economic development director, and two members of the Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission. Meetings are held twice a month on the first and third Thursday.

Economic Development Commission: The commission consists of seven voting members and a council liaison. It includes the economic development director, director of the Biddeford & Saco Chamber of Commerce, BSAEDC and the director of Saco Main Street.

Energy and Sustainability Committee: The committee was established with the sole purpose of creating a more energy efficient and sustainable community. This includes educating and encouraging the city to effectively and efficiently conserve the environment, human, energy and economic resources. Members of this committee are made up of members of city departments, two city council liaisons and seven members from the public. Meetings are held once a month on the last Tuesday of the month.

Goosefare Brook Restoration Committee: This group meets three times a year and serves as a steering committee for the implementation of the Watershed-Based Management Plan. There are seven to nine members who represent each community, as well as stakeholders in the watershed.

Historic Preservation Commission: The commission reviews all exterior renovations on properties located in the historic district. The commission works with property owners to assure that the historic significance is maintained. Currently, seven members serve on the commission with one alternate. The Saco Historic Preservation Commission’s Application for Certificate of Appropriateness is available on the city website.

Planning board: Responsible for administering site plan regulations, conditional use regulations and sub division regulations. This board is also charged with overseeing the development of a comprehensive plan for the city of Saco. The board consists of seven members who serve a three-year term. A chairman is chosen from the membership each year in January.

Shoreline Commission: The Shoreline commission studies the continued effects of erosion on Saco’s shorefront. This includes the evaluation of public use of beaches and infrastructure within a coastal zone under the jurisdiction of Saco. Its function is to provide council members information related to policy issues and other related items associated with coastal erosion. Commission is made up of nine members plus a city council liaison. It meets nine to 10 times a year.

Registrar Board of Appeals: Reviews any contested determinations by the registrar. There is currently a chairman and one member from the Democratic Party and the Republican Party

Zoning Board of Appeals: The board, after a public hearing and majority vote of its members, will determine administrative appeals, planning board appeals, variances, historic preservation commission appeals, shore-land variances and denials of building permits. Board consists of seven members who serve five-year terms.

An application to serve on any of these boards, commissions and committees may be found on the city website (www.sacomaine.org).

John Harkins, chairman Saco Citizens for Sensible Government

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