Kittery Council debates docks, residency rules, library policy

 
By Ralph Morang
news@seacoastonline.com
July 30, 2014 2:00 AM

newsKITTERY, Maine — The Town Council approved additional funds Monday night for a float system at the Traip Academy launch ramp and dock located off Williams Avenue.

Originally, $20,000 was allocated for the project, but bidding came in at $31,010. Half the original funds came from a Small Harbor Improvement Program grant from the Maine Department of Transportation Quality Community Program.

Town Manager Nancy Colbert Puff reported that the DOT would split the difference of the increase with the town, so the council was asked to approve an additional $5,505 for the floats.

Councilor Charles Denault asked why the council was voting for more money, after approving $20,000. Council Chairman Jeff Thomson said that the bids came in high and the state and the Kittery Port Authority wanted to do the project even at the higher cost. The extra money was approved; it will come from a KPA account. The low bid was from Riverside and Pickering Marine.

In a related matter, Colbert Puff said she is working with the Port Authority to update the job description of harbormaster and to advertise the position. Former harbormaster Mike Blake resigned earlier this month.

Forrest Bell of FB Environmental Associates and Phyllis Ford of the Spruce Creek Association asked the council to approve an application for Phase IV of a Section 319 grant from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to continue to improve the water quality of Spruce Creek. The two-year grant is for $65,000 with a town match of $65,000 — $45,000 in in-kind services and $20,000 for water quality sampling for two years.

Bell said a Phase IV grant has not yet been funded, but said he had “a fair amount of confidence” it would be. With the grant, efforts would target on-the-ground construction with a “green streets” program and treating storm water runoff from streets and parking lots. Bell said the work in the first three phases set a high bar for other communities in water-quality work. Spruce Creek would continue to be monitored to be sure the work has a positive effect on water quality.

Spruce Creek is a tidal creek that runs from the Piscataqua River in Kittery Point up past the retail malls on Route 1 and into North Kittery; it is currently closed to shellfish harvesting. The Spruce Creek Association has been working for eight years to study the creek, with testing of suspected hot spots of bacteria contamination. To date, the town has contributed more than $300,000 for this work and has received more than $225,000 in state grants.

The council approved the grant application.

Councilor Frank Dennett asked the council to consider an amendment to the town charter to change a requirement that town employees live in Kittery. According to a memo to councilors, Dennett said three employees have been unable to be promoted to positions as “municipal officials” because they are not Maine residents, as required by state law. He said town voters have the power to bypass the state law with a charter amendment. The council, he said, would need to hold a public hearing on the issue, then include a proposed amendment on the November ballot. Thomson scheduled an Aug. 25 public hearing.

In other business

The council accepted the resignation of Jenny Wall from the Parks Commission and the resignation of Vern Gardner from the Comprehensive Plan Update Committee and the Board of Appeals.

Also, the Rice Public Library board has voted to exclude religious and political meetings from library property. Thomson said he was concerned about censorship at the library, noting that, for example, Maine’s senators may wish to visit constituents by meeting at the library. Dennett pointed out that the town gives the library $440,00 a year.

“Taxpayers may not want to give money to someone that wants to exclude them,” he said. Thomson said the policy needs clarification.

KITTERY FEST Starts Friday Night.

kitteryfest SMALL (2)Join us this Friday, August 1st from 5:00-8:00pm at Frisbee Field as we hold our annual KitteryFest event and the final concert in our Summer Concerts on the Common series sponsored by Kennebunk Savings!

There will be games, prizes, face painting, BBQ, bounce houses and a concert by Beatles tribute band 

Studio Two. Plus, Nike Outlet Store is hosting a Kid’s Fun Run this year too! Bring a blanket or chair, bring the kids or grandkids and enjoy some great family fun and music for FREE!

 

Studio Two

Studio Two is a Beatles cover band that pays tribute to the early Beatles years, choosing songs from the pre-Sgt. Pepper era. Featuring graduates from Berklee College of Music and Beatles devotees. Band members are experienced musicians of today’s generation dedicated to preserving the memory and fan culture of The Beatles generation. By recreating the Fab Four’s music, instruments and onstage banter, Studio Two performs your most favorite hits that will bring people to the dance floor! www.facebook.com/studiotwotribute

 

Kittery Recreation Department

200 Rogers Rd.

120 Rogers Rd.

Kittery, ME

03904

Workshop addresses Kittery residents’ assessment concerns

 propertytaxmoneyExperts explain abatement, appeals process

By Ralph Morang
news@seacoastonline.com
July 29, 2014 2:00 AM

KITTERY, Maine — The Town Council held an “assessing 101″ workshop Monday night at Town Hall after several residents complained about the tax assessments of their properties.

After the Portsmouth Herald recently published a story about Gerrish Island residents Randy Price and Mark Steffen questioning their property assessment, Town Manager Nancy Colbert Puff said she received five to 10 e-mails from residents expressing similar concerns.

Price, a veteran Boston television news anchorman, and Steffen charge in a court complaint that the town’s assessment of their Tower Road property was “manifestly wrong” and their property taxes increased 43 percent. The property is currently assessed at $1.2 million, up from $845,000 in 2012.

The workshop was requested by Councilor Chuck Denault after he also received communications from residents expressing concern about their assessment.

Town Assessor Bruce Kerns was to conduct Monday’s workshop, but Town Council Chairman Jeff Thomson said Kerns had a medical issue and could not attend.

Instead, presentations were given by Vern Gardner, an independent appraiser and volunteer on the Board of Adjustment and the Comprehensive Plan Update Committee; Christian Kuhn, development staff clerk for Kittery; and Paul McKinney from Vision Government Solutions.

Gardner said that assessing is based on market values.

“A property’s value is based on similar property values,” he said. There may be about 75 properties in town that are sold each year. Using the sales figures from one to three years, values are broken down into building value and land value.

He said appraising Seacoast towns can be difficult because properties can be on the waterfront or inland, and the different locations are valued differently. A property is broken down into relevant pieces such as square footage, type of heat, if there is a garage, etc. A model is created from sales prices.

The assessor must be “objective, independent and impartial,” Gardner said. “It may seem impersonal to a lot of people,” he said, but an assessor just wants the facts. The town budget may go up at a greater rate than the value of the community, and revaluation brings it back into balance.

Kuhn talked about “just value” equal to “fair market value,” or what a buyer would pay to a willing seller and how the market affects prices. He also described the abatement and appeals process, and where the burden of proof is on the property owner when challenging an assessment.

McKinney described how an outside consultant looks at sales, makes a model and sends appraisers to conduct exterior inspections of every property in town. A final value is sent to the property owner, who can then schedule a hearing to appeal.

Denault asked McKinney what percentage of valuations are overturned. McKinney said about 60 percent see a reduction, but 30 percent could see an increase. He said there may be issues with a property that no one has looked at in a long time.

McKinney did say that some sale prices are thrown out of the models. He gave examples where a waterfront property may have sold for far more than its assumed value and then demolished and replaced with something of higher value.

Price and Steffen attended the workshop, and Price asked what fair market value is. In many ways, he said, what people pay is fair market value but could be lower or higher than the town’s valuation.

Thomson cut discussion off as the regular Town Council meeting was scheduled to begin, but he asked residents for comments and questions, and suggested another workshop may be held in the fall.

Kittery council to vote on town dock project

dmcdermott@seacoastonline.com
July 28, 2014 8:46 AM

KITTERY, Maine — Work could begin shortly for a float system at the Traip Academy dock. The town had allocated $20,000 for the project, but bidding came in at $31,010.

In her report to the Town Council, Town Manager Nancy Colbert Puff said the state Department of Transportation has agreed to split the difference with the town. The Kittery Port Authority will pick up the town portion of the bill, she said.

At Monday night’s meeting, the Town Council is expected to consider whether to officially approve the deal, Colbert Puff said.

The Town Council is also being asked to authorize the submission of a state grant to further the Spruce Creek Watershed Restoration Project, with a town match of $65,000.

The Spruce Creek Association has been working for years to study the creek, with testing of suspected hotspots of bacteria contamination. To date, the town has contributed more than $300,000 for this work, and has received more than $225,000 in state grants.

The Town Council is being asked to continue this effort, specifically for targeted follow-up to the work that has already been done to refine polluting sources.

Councilor Frank Dennett is asking his Town Council colleagues to consider a possible charter amendment. According to a memo to councilors, Dennett said three employees have been unable to be promoted to positions as “municipal officials” because they are not Maine residents as required by state law. He said the town’s voters have the power to bypass the state law with a charter amendment. The council, he said, would need to hold a public hearing on the issue, then include a proposed amendment on the November ballot.

The Town Council meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Town Hall. Before the meeting, at 6 p.m., the council invites the public to a workshop with Assessor Bruce Kerns.

Town Council Agenda 7-28-2014

imagesCARP0T9QWORKSHOP

Download your Council Packets Here

                                  6:00 p.m. “Assessing 101 for Property Owners”

July 28, 2014                      Kittery Town Council                             Council Chambers                                                    Regular Meeting Agenda                                                                                                                                               7:00 p.m.

 

1.         Call to Order

2.         Introductory

3.         Pledge of Allegiance

4.         Roll Call

5.         Agenda Amendment and Adoption

6.         Town Manager’s Repor

7.         Acceptance of Previous Minutes  

8.         Interviews for the Board of Appeals and Planning Board

9.         All items involving the town attorney, town engineers, town employees or other town consultants or requested officials.

(070214-1) The Kittery Town Council moves to authorize the submission of the Phase IV Grant application for the Spruce Creek Watershed Restoration Project with a town match of $65,000 ($45,000 in-kind services and $20,000 to fund annual water quality sampling for two years).  

10.      PUBLIC HEARINGS

a. (070214-2) The Kittery Town Council moves to hold a public hearing on an application from Jarrod Spangler, 31 Hill Street, Dover, NH for a Victualer’s License for Maine Meat (Meat), 7 Wallingford Square, #104, Kittery.  

b. (070214-3) The Kittery Town Council moves to hold a public hearing on an application from The Cajun Lobster LLC, 90 Pepperrell Road, Kittery Point, for a Victualer’s License for The Cajun Lobster, 90 Pepperrell Road, Kittery Point.  

c.  (070214-4)  The Kittery Town Council moves to hold a public hearing on an application from  The Cajun Lobster LLC, 90 Pepperrell Road, Kittery Point, for a Special Activity/

Amusement Permit for The Cajun Lobster, 90 Pepperrell Road, Kittery Point.  

d. (070214-5) The Kittery Town Council moves to hold a public hearing on an application from Tributary Brewing Co., LLC, 5 Winding Brooke Road, South Berwick, Maine for a Special Activity/ Amusement Permit for Tributary Brewing Company, 10 Shapleigh Road, Suite A, Kittery.  

11.      DISCUSSION

a.  Discussion by members of the public (three minutes per person)

b.  Response to public comment directed to a particular Councilor

c.  Chairperson’s response to public comments

12.      UNFINISHED BUSINESS

13.      NEW BUSINESS

  1.  Donations/gifts received for Council disposition.

b. (070214-6) The Kittery Town Council moves to approve the application from The Cajun Lobster, 90 Pepperrell Road, Kittery Point, for a Malt, Spirituous and Vinous Liquor License for The Cajun Lobster, 90 Pepperrell Road, Kittery Point.

 

c. (070214-7) The Kittery Town Council moves to approve the request of the Kittery Youth Football League to hold a Tag Day fundraiser at the Resource Recovery Facility on Saturday, August 16th 2014 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

 

d. (070214-8) The Kittery Town Council moves to accept the resignation from Jenny Wall from the Parks Commission.

 

e. (070214-9) The Kittery Town Council moves to approve the slate of officers for the 2015 Vice President and members of the Maine Municipal Association Executive Committee.

 

f. (070214-10) The Kittery Town Council moves to approve the disbursement warrants.

 

g. (070214-11) The Kittery Town Council moves to authorize the release of funds to supplement the $20,000 grant received from the Small Harbor Improvement Program for the Traip Float.

 

h. (070214-12) The Kittery Town Council moves to accept the resignation from Vern J. Gardner, Jr. from the Comprehensive Plan Update Committee and the Board of Appeals.

 

i. (070214-13) The Kittery Town Council moves to appoint Karen Saltus to the Kittery Conservation Commission, as a regular member, until May 31, 2015.  

 

j. (070214-14) The Kittery Town Council moves to discuss a proposed charter amendment relating to the qualifications for municipal office.  

 

k. (070214-15) The Kittery Town Council moves to sign a Release Deed, releasing the tax liens to J. Michael Correia and Denise Correia of South Berwick, Maine for property located at 9-11 Whipple Road, Kittery, Maine, identified as Assessor’s Tax Map 9, Lot 135.  

 

 

14.      COUNCILOR ISSUES OR COMMENT

 

15.      COMMITTEE AND OTHER REPORTS

 

  1.  Communications from the Chairperson

b.   Committee Reports

 

16.      EXECUTIVE SESSION

17.      ADJOURNMENT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted:  July 24, 2014

Workshop “How the Accessment Works” 7-28-14

Taken from an article in the Portsmouth Herald
Workshop taking place to answer property concerns in Kittery
dmcdermott@seacoastonline.com
July 26, 2014 2:00 AM

KITTERY, Maine — Given recent concerns by residents about the town’s assessment of their properties, the Town Council is bringing in assessor Bruce Kerns to answer questions of both councilors and the public.

The council workshop with Kerns will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, July 28.

Gerrish Island residents Randy Price and Mark Steffen recently filed action in York County Superior Court disputing the town’s assessment of their property.

Their property value increased by $400,000 following a town-wide revalution in 2013, resulting in a 43 percent increase in property taxes.

The couple contends that the assessing department unfairly targeted them, while other waterfront properties did not see similar increases in assessments.

Since Price discussed the issue with the Portsmouth Herald in June, Town Manager Nancy Colbert Puff said she’s received five to 10 e-mails from residents expressing similar concerns.

Kerns is expected on Monday night not only to explain the assessing process, but to also explain the 2013 revalution.

Property-Tax-Bill-AppealThe workshop, which has been called a sort of “assessing 101″ event, was requested by Councilor Chuck Denault after he received communications from residents expressing concern about their assessment.

Council Chairman Jeff Thomson cautioned residents that Kerns will not address concerns about individual parcels. He also stressed that decorum is required of all those in attendance.

Thomson has said that following the revaluation, the council did not hear a “hue and cry” from residents that their assessments were unfair.

“But now that it’s been brought to light, I do have some questions,” he said.

First day of Route 1 Bypass detours run smoothly

Taken from the Portsmouth Herald.
dmcdermott@seacoastonline.com
July 24, 2014 2:00 AM

bildeCAK0772RKITTERY, Maine — The Route 1 Bypass bridge came down in chunks of concrete and rebar Wednesday, as workers prepare to install a new bridge in its place over the course of the next month.

“Everything’s going well,” said John Auger, Maine Department of Transportation project manager, at the site Wednesday afternoon.

Route 236 in the vicinity of the bridge overpass was closed to traffic Wednesday. Workers had until 8 a.m. this morning to complete the work, but Auger estimated the road would be open by 10 p.m. Wednesday.

According to Auger, traffic on the Bypass coming in both directions “has been flowing smoothly” throughout the day. “Everyone is following the (detour) signs,” he said.

The replacement bridge is expected to be installed within 35 days. Precast pieces will be arriving on the site by early next week.

Auger said this week that special attention has been paid to ensure that Portsmouth Naval Shipyard workers are aware of the work and seek alternative routes.

Most of the 4,700 shipyard workers arrive between 7 and 7:30 a.m. and depart between 3 and 3:30 p.m. Signs directing traffic around the site have been placed near Gates 1 and 2, Auger said.

Shipyard public affairs officer Danna Eddy said the yard has used “multiple means of internal communication to ensure the work force is prepared for this road closure” — including e-mail, Facebook and internal electronic signs.

She said the MDOT has proactively provided the shipyard information about the project in recent months.

Auger said once Route 236 is open, “all we have to do is build a bridge.”

 

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Photo taken by Deborah McDermott