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South Portland police chief: Don't legalize marijuana

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South Portland police chief: Don't legalize marijuana

SOUTH PORTLAND — From residency restrictions for sex offenders to revised procedures for getting rid of old library books, City Councilors Monday received a wish-list of goals from department heads.

The City Hall workshop was designed to provide an overview of where each department hopes to go this year in terms of policy and operations.

"It is a chance to express some goal setting without it being in a budget setting, which can be a little intimidating," Mayor Jerry Jalbert said at the outset of almost two hours of comments and questions.

Department heads were asked to limit their comments to three goals and three possible new or revised ordinances or regulations.

In contrast to Portland, where voters last year legalized possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use, Police Chief Ed Googins said he would like the city to take a strong stand against legalizing pot, which he called a "gateway drug."

Googins also said he would like to see restrictions on where registered sex offenders can live in the city, noting that state law allows a local ordinance.

After Googins added that the city code governing motor vehicles needs revisions, City Planning Director Tex Haeuser took up the theme of outdated regulations.

"Some of the terminology goes back to horse-and-buggy days," Haeuser said.

He said he would like to add a person to the Code Enforcement Department, and made energy sustainability a goal, with the city or a private source generating at least one megawatt of energy from solar sources by 2020.

Jon Jennings, the assistant city manager and economic director, suggested bringing in outside consultants for new development ideas.

Jennings suggested creating an economic development committee to help create a five- to 10-year master plan for city development and to market the unique features of the city.

With the city having applied for a federal Brownfields grant to assess the condition of waterfront and industrial properties, Jennings said select areas of the waterfront are already being looked at for redevelopment.

Jennings also suggested the city review and amend its ordinances so food truck operators are allowed in the city on a regular basis. The trucks were allowed as a special exception on movie nights at Bug Light Park last summer and proved very popular, Jennings and Councilor Linda Cohen said.

Director Rick Towle said the Parks and Recreation Department needs to create a 10-year master plan for park operations, while also making a formal arrangement with the School Department on shared use of facilities.

Library Director Kevin Davis took a wider view about marketing the city and its municipal services.

"As a city, I think we generally present a fairly amateur image of ourselves. I think we can, and should, do better," Davis said.

He also sought bigger signs than currently allowed outside the library and more distinctions about disposing of smaller items owned by the city.

"I get the care that needs to be taken with larger-ticket items," Davis said, "but the motions the library needs to go through to remove obsolete books from the collection is cumbersome and inefficient."

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.