Planning Board and Council workshop still on amid multiple resignations 10-6-14.

Workshop packet Links.
Read the package to become familiar with the plan.  Monday night workshop.

By Deborah McDermott

October 03. 2014 4:56PM

Council to discuss controversial proposal that curbs development

ClusterKITTERY, Maine – The Town Council will meet with the Planning Board Monday night to discuss a proposed amendment to the town’s sewer system and septic disposal code that will curb subdivisions in rural parts of town.

The code change was the impetus for the resignation last week of Planning Board member Susan Tuveson, who said she felt members of the current board are “self-focused advocates” who want to stop residential development in town.

Under terms of the amendment, the proposal would disallow subdivisions with four or more lots or dwelling units in all parts of Kittery without sewer. Currently, sewer is confined to the more densely populated parts of town. Rural areas of town north of Spruce Creek are not sewered.

This is not the first time the council has met with the Planning Board on this issue. Following a meeting last month, the council asked the board members to list the pros and cons, and most have done so.

Board members expressed a wide range of opinions. Mark Allesse and Karen Kalmar, who Tuveson named specifically as having a “conflict of interest” on the amendment because they live in non-sewered Kittery Point, support the changes.

Kalmar indicated in her list that the proposed amendment preserves the rural character of town, helps “prevent overbuilding, protecting property values of homeowners” and discourages suburban sprawl, among other reasons.

Allesse said in his comments that to “permit suburban style development in rural areas would be philistine, at best, self destructive, at worst.”

But not all board members agree. Bob Melanson wrote that he was concerned the amendment “puts the ‘planning’ cart before the rights of property owners’ horse.” A proposed 24-lot cluster subdivision on Betty Welch Road would go from 24 lots to three-fourths of a lot, he said.

Board Chairman Tom Emerson in his comments listed a litany of concerns, including the fact that it “repudiates” the cluster subdivision ordinance passed by the Planning Board several years ago that would allow a density of houses to be clustered while the remaining land in a subdivision is open space. He wrote he is also concerned that the town leaves itself open to lawsuits.

The workshop begins at 6 p.m. at Town Hall.

Planning board resignations:

Planning Board member resigns, cites “conflict of interest” on panel .

By Deborah McDermott

quitting-your-jobKITTERY, Maine — Kittery Planning Board member Susan Tuveson has resigned her position, citing deep concerns that some of her colleagues seem opposed to residential development at a time when she wonders whether the town can afford to take such a stance.

Tuveson, in an e-mail to Planning Board Chairman Tom Emerson, said she believes “I no longer have any effective role on a judicial panel of self-focused advocates.”

The issues, for her, have been simmering for more than a year, but the impetus for the resignation is a proposed amendment to the town’s sewer system and septic disposal code. The proposal effectively disallows subdivisions with four or more lots or dwelling units in all parts of Kittery without sewer – which Town Planner Chris DiMatteo defines as the area of town north of Spruce Creek.

The proposal is not finalized and is the subject of a Town Council workshop on Oct. 6.

Most subdivision plans in the past several years have been proposed for the northern, less developed part of Kittery. Currently, sewer is confined to the more densely populated parts of Kittery. The proposal essentially circumvents a cluster subdivision ordinance passed by the Planning Board several years ago. Under terms of that ordinance, developers “cluster” homes on a small part of a parcel leaving the rest undeveloped.

Perhaps the most controversial plan in recent time was for a 27-lot cluster subdivision on 60 acres Brave Boat Harbor Road, a proposal that was removed from the table when the Kittery Land Trust purchased the property last December.

Tuveson said that proposal marked a turning point on the board. Board member Mark Allesse had to recuse himself from that case, as he lives in that part of Kittery Point. Board member Karen Kalmar was a key opponent of the proposal and was appointed to the Planning Board after the KLT purchase.

She charges the two by name as having “conflicts of interest” with regard to the sewer ordinance, although she said other member of the board who live north of Spruce Creek also support it. Allesse “to this day declares his right to form an opinion against the development from first introduction, before any public presentation of evidence or discussion.”

Following Kalmar’s appointment, “there came an effort to unplug the…cluster ordinance (primarily through the sewer code changes) basing authority for those changes upon an outdated comprehensive plan. This exclusion comprises a good three-fifths of Kittery.” The comp plan is supposed to be updated every 10 years, although it has now been 12 years since its last ratification.

Kalmar could not be reached for comment. Allesse said he is “in no way anti-development,” but said he feels the comp plan is clear. “I’m in favor of appropriate development in appropriate parts of town. Too much density in the wrong part of town could change the look, the feel, the vibe of town forever.”

Although Emerson was unavailable for comment Monday, in an e-mail to Tuveson he listed a litany of concerns about the sewer code changes, including the fact that it “repudiates” the cluster subdivision, could leave the town open to lawsuits and “effectively asks the rest of the town, by virtue of a decreased tax base, to finance the enjoyment of a few.”

Tuveson agrees.

“My concern is whether the town can afford to limit development at all, in any form. This is not offered to defeat zoning, but rather to inquire after the short and long-term fiscal impact of the town,” she said. “Development provides money, and I believe it’s is a responsibility to be shared.”


NEWS ALERT: As on 10-3-2014. Bob Melanson Chairperson of the Kittery Port Authority  and an active member of the planning board also submitted his resignation from both boards. As of this publication, it is unknown why he chose to resign. Bob Melanson was the Planning Board Member which is assigned to the KPA.