Retired Maine District Court Judge Michael Cantara speaks to colleagues, family and friends during a reception in his honor at Springvale District Court on April 30, just prior to his retirement on March 1. On Tuesday, Cantara was appointed as an associate member of the Biddeford Planning Board. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune file photo

BIDDEFORD — Biddeford resident Michael Cantara has enjoyed a brief respite since retiring as a Maine district court judge on March 1. Since then, he’s spent time traveling and cleaning. Now he’s ready for more, and one of his new duties will bring him back to his roots, serving on the Biddeford Planning Board. Cantara was nominated for the position by Mayor Alan Casavant and his appointed was unanimously approved by the Biddeford City Council.

Prior to becoming a judge, which he became after he was the York County District Attorney, Cantara served locally in Biddeford, as mayor, and before that spent nearly four years on the Planning Board.

On his application requesting to be appointed to the board he wrote, “it is important to give back to the city of Biddeford. Biddeford is home, it is where I grew up, it holds a special place in my heart.”

On Wednesday, Cantara elaborated in a telephone interview, “I served on the Planning Board in the past and enjoyed that work.” He said he was “pleased” to be appointed, adding “it’s important to continue to give back.”

Cantara acknowledged serving on the Planning Board today may be different then when he served in the past. “Biddeford is not the same place as when I served on the Planning Board in the 1980s.”

Retired Maine District Court Judge Michael Cantara pauses for a photo with former Maine Governor John Baldacci during a reception in Cantara honor on April 30, the day before he retired, at Springvale District Court. Baldacci nominated Cantara for the bench in 2007. Cantara was appointed to the Biddeford Planning Board on Tuesday.TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune file photo

He said he’ll spend the first few months of his term, which begins immediately and expires December 2022, familiarizing himself with local and state ordinances and will also do a lot of listening.

“I’m looking forward to contributing, listening attentively and becoming familiar with the ordinances governing the work,” he said.

Cantara was appointed as an associate member when an opening on the board occurred after Larry Patoine resigned for personal reasons. Associate member Spiros Droggitis moved up from being an associate member to a regular member of the board.

The Planning board consists of five voting members and two associate members. “Each member shall be nominated by the Mayor, confirmed by the City Council, for a three year-term. Members may be reappointed at the end of their terms, not to exceed three consecutive terms,” according to the city’s Code of Ordinances. “Associate members may be made voting members of the Board upon the retirement or nonappointment of a voting member.” Board members must be residents and registered voters of Biddeford and cannot be a municipal officer or official of the city during their term.

According to the code, the duties of the Planning Board include: preparing and revising the city’s comprehensive plan; reviewing and approving, or disapproving, subdivision and other development plans that deal with specific real estate; and drafting ordinances and other provisions for approval by the municipal officers.

Michael Cantara grew up in Biddeford, was an attorney in private practice in Biddeford from 1981 to 1984, and then moved on to become a prosecutor in the York County District Attorney’s Office until 1986 when he returned to private practice. He became mayor of Biddeford in 1988 and had previously served on the city’s Planning Board. In 1991, Cantara began a 12-year stint as York County District Attorney.

He was nominated as a district court judge in 2007 by former Governor John Baldacci, where he served until earlier this year.

He’s a graduate of Biddeford High School, Class of 1971, was a Fulbright Scholar, and among other places attended Colby College in Waterville, Middlebury College in Vermont, the Universite de Paris, University of Michigan and the Maine School of Law, in Portland.

Cantara who said he’s been traveling and washing floors since his retirement has, in addition to being appointed to the Biddeford Planning Board, also been appointed to serve on several board of directors of nonprofit organizations.

— Managing Editor Dina Mendros can be contacted at 780-9014 or [email protected]

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