Date: 11/03/2023 5:06 PM EDT Subject: Letter to the Editor
In response to Mr. Thomson’s letter about Kittery candidates not showing good judgement, we have known Chuck Denault for over 45 years, and always found him to be very honest and trustworthy. He is a Traip graduate who went on to serve the town as a police officer for many years and was promoted to Sergeant. Chuck also served for many years on the town council and was elected to Vice Chair. We have often watched the town council meetings and Chuck always seemed to be the voice of reason. Chuck is concerned with maintaining Kittery’s small town charm, assisting long term residents to stay in their homes and not be forced out by the seeming never – ending sprawl. In closing, we have known Chuck for many years, he is a hard working, good local guy with a proven track record of being honest, fair, and trustworthy. We feel it is also important to note that both Chuck Denault and Ken Lemont were found clear of any wrong doings and did nothing illegal while on the council prior. Chuck Denault and Ken Lemont did an excellent job while serving on the Kittery town council in the past and they both deserve to be re-elected.
Thank you, Maurice (Bud) Patch, Larry B. Estes, Linda K. Patch, Jacquelyn M. Emery, (4 Kittery & Kittery Point residents)
On Monday I read, with interest, the letter from Jeff Thomson regarding to former town council members both of whom are running for Town Council again. He claims they do not use sound judgement. He even goes so far as to insinuate that their actions of photographing two female employees were grounds for a lawsuit.
Let’s get the facts straight – Both Charles Denault and Ken Lamont were photographing the employees for one reason. The employees were leaving their jobs to run personal errands on the taxpayer’s dime. Their actions had the best interests of Kittery’s residents in mind. There was an investigation and both were cleared of any wrong doing.
He mentions they were instigated to do such because of other employees complaints. Of course there were complaints. I wouldn’t be happy if my coworkers did that either. If the town offices were being run properly in the first place it would not have been necessary. The town hall is rife with cronyism.
Charles Denault has spent years with the Kittery Police Dept retiring as Sergeant. He was voted to be the Town Council Vice Chair for three years running by his peers. They both have fought for senior property tax relief and to curb over development. That is enough proof of sound judgement for me.
Thank you to the Portsmouth Herald for the heading. Thank you to the 5 members of the DPW who showed courage to share their support for me and help set the record straight! They are the real heroes for trying to fix Kittery!
Kittery was unfair to Chuck Denault. We support him.
Oct. 18 − To the Editor:
We, the undersigned former Kittery, Maine, town employees, support Chuck Denault and his candidacy for election to the Kittery Town Council. Though much has been written by the Portsmouth Herald regarding his abrupt departure from the Kittery Town Council in 2021, very little was published pertaining to the employees that he assisted during that tenuous time.
We would like to take this opportunity to tell our side of the story. When our many and varied individual complaints to our direct supervisor, human resources and ultimately the town manager regarding theft, hostile work environments, retaliation, harassment, co-workers sneaking out of work when the boss was not there, time card fraud, nepotism and mismanagement along with an assortment of other complaints were not resolved or even believed, we had no one left to turn to except Councilor Denault. He advised us that he would personally take the information to the town manager per the town charter. This was well within the scope of his duties as a town councilor and our rights as employees.
Councilor Denault always looked out for the citizens and employees of Kittery and in order to assist us, tried to fix the wrongdoings to benefit those who were subjected to unfair treatment. He was trying to protect us while doing his job as a town councilor. As a direct result of us reporting bad behavior, the retaliation started and among other things, we were told that we could not speak to Chuck nor voice our concerns to the public. This ultimately led to our resignations, one by one, including Chuck’s wife. These were not easy decisions to make. Some of us had over 15 years of employment with the town of Kittery.
Over the past few years, there has been an obvious downturn in morale and a not so stellar reputation of Kittery’s management practices. From multiple town employees moving on to other employment, to the residents becoming divided, the effects of the management problems have been clear and well articulated yet ignored. They were clear then as they are today. It was devastating that the town manager knowingly disciplined the wrong people while we were trying to do what was morally right.
What happened to Former Councilor Denault was unfair and the accusations were not true. The information he brought forward is accurate. He defended us, tried to do what was right and was true to his oath and obligations. If you could see what we saw happening inside, away from the public’s eye, you would truly support Mr. Chuck Denault in his candidacy as we do.
Daniel Upton, Robert Hames, Daniel J. Colbert, Terry McDonnell, Shawn Tapley
The town is remediating hundreds of erroneous tax bills sent out to residents after miscalculations tied to the state’s sunsetting Property Tax Stabilization Program for senior citizens. read the articles below.
It appears that Kittery town officials are aware of traffic light malfunctions at the Wallingford Square intersection and appear not to be taking action to remedy the problem. Supposedly they attempted to have it fixed but it got worse.
This malfunction is causing extreme traffic delays during peak commuting hours, resulting in massive traffic back-ups at both Gate 1 and Gate 2 of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY).
The residents of Kittery and the largest employer in the region both have a new problem with traffic and Kittery town leadership may be part of that problem. Daily PNSY commuter traffic has been a challenging issue for Kittery for as long as most residents can remember but with the 2022 economic impact exceeding $1.45 billion dollars, it is an issue that needs to be addressed effectively to ensure the livelihoods of countless citizens and businesses in the area.
After Kittery spent over $250,000 in taxpayer grant dollars on the Joint Land Use Study traffic study and failed to identify or implement any effective solutions to alleviate the shipyard traffic, one Kittery Town Council member Matthew Brock, suggested an ordinance that would require carpooling a minimum of four people on and off the island. By the way, that idea was floated at the height of COVID and social distancing protocols. That is the kind of results residents are getting from Kittery leaders regarding this and other issues we are facing as a town.
According to Kittery Sources, PNSY officials recently met with Kittery Town Manager, Kendra Amaral, seeking urgent resolution of this traffic crisis and offered portable traffic lights until the broken Wallingford square lights can be repaired. The malfunctioning lights are switching every 7 seconds during peak traffic hours as shift changes bring thousands of vehicles on and off the shipyard. The result of this is agonizing starts and stops, allowing only a few vehicles to move at each light and delaying both employees as well as Kittery residents in their travels through these key areas of town.
An email was sent to Amaral requesting additional information about the cause of the issue and her plan for a speedy resolution and it immediately was answered and is below. Thousands of federal employees and civilian contractors have been delayed for hours trying to get on and off the shipyard in recent weeks. These hundreds of Kittery residents as well as thousands of residents of neighboring communities and states. This Kittery traffic light debacle is affecting the quality of life for thousands of people.
Another significant impact of this mess is environmental, with thousands of stagnant vehicles idling and burning fuel. This needless pollution and noise affects the air quality for Kittery residents and the overall environment that we all share. Failure to swiftly correct this issue makes Kittery culpable for the problem, as our leaders are doing a disservice to the Navy, thousands of employees and Kittery residents which many work on the yard. At candidate’s night last week, Kittery Town councilor and current shipyard employee Cameron Hamm highlighted his passion and commitment to alleviating climate change. Former Councilor Kenneth Lemont, is a former shipyard employee who faced the traffic nightmares first hand as well. What is Kittery doing to address this mess? Representing the citizens of Kittery is about getting involved and driving solutions to the critical issues we face as a community.
Kittery needs to collaborate with PNSY to resolve the challenges we face together. At one point the shipyard offered to fund a police officer to direct traffic at both gates during peak hours to manage the flow of traffic. That generous offer was rejected by Kittery’s leadership as well. It seems the shipyard offers many ideas that are dismissed.
When I am asked why I am running for re-election I tell people that I am committed to getting results for Kittery and solving problems. Failure to address and solve the traffic issues is a perfect example of the type of change that Kittery needs. Please think carefully about who you vote for on November 7th and be sure to plan on extra driving time to get to the polls if you live anywhere near the shipyard.
Response from the Kittery Town Manager
We have been working with the PNS on the traffic issues; including yesterday. We agreed to a plan to keep that intersection up running if the traffic signal finally crashes out for good before MDOT implements the replacement program next year.
In generally the Town has worked the PNS on the signal timing to assist them in clearing the yard. We had adjusted the Gate 1 signal to 60 seconds at the PNS’ request in 2020. The signal is one of the oldest in Kittery and in need of replacement. We believe the timing programmed in 2020 slipped recently. Our vendor was out there a few days ago to replace a dead bulb and that also threw the whole system off. I have said in multiple forums that the Gate 1 intersection is one of the oldest in Kittery and we continue to be concerned that every time we try to make an adjustment the entire signal box will crash. Yesterday the system went haywire and into flash mode unexpectedly. We had our signal maintenance vendor out there trying to get it back to 60 seconds at the afternoon peak. They are also working on getting the Walker/State back to a detection setting. I understand what they did yesterday addressed the timing; we will see how long it lasts though.
The Town is working with the PNS to monitor and address the issue as much as possible. I’ve copied Danna and Cdr Durika on the email if you wish to receive more information.
After the Town Manager’s very quick response, there are still questions. The Town Manager has been here since 2016 and traffic regarding the shipyard has been a problem for over a half a century. According to Amaral, “I have said in multiple forums that the Gate 1 intersection is one of the oldest in Kittery and we continue to be concerned that every time we try to make an adjustment the entire signal box will crash.”
FACT: Kittery has nine signal lights and the Wallingford Square light is the oldest.
Why hasn’t Kittery made this a priority to have this traffic light replaced or upgraded having first hand knowledge that it was a failure waiting to happen?
According to Town Manager Amaral’s email, “We agreed to a plan to keep that intersection up running if the traffic signal finally crashes out for good before MDOT implements the replacement program next year”. Perhaps the JLUS traffic study should have addressed this and I wonder how many others in Kittery have known about this archaic traffic light potential failure.
Perhaps MDOT should know that over an estimated three thousand vehicles pass through this intersection in a day within the Foreside Business district. Further more, that this traffic light imminent failure can be prevented by replacing it immediately with a new traffic light system, adding new technology such as cameras and motion sensors. This replacement would be key to moving traffic through the Foreside Business district and help alleviate the flow of traffic.
Kittery officials need to be proactive with this and do what is right for the residents and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Attached is a letter that I and four former DPW employees of the Town of Kittery have crafted and signed. Attached are the email addresses of the signing individuals needed for verification. Although it may be a little lengthy, it covers the events of 2021 thru today accurately.
We are a group of the several Kittery Town Employees who were suppressed from speaking to the truth and to the events that we brought to the Town Manager, HR and our direct supervisors and eventually to Councilor Denault and Lemont. We feel it is newsworthy and although it supports Denault in his election, these events have had a terrible profound effect on all of us who worked so hard for Kittery.
Please publish the letter to the paper for the citizens to read. We are only five, but there are many more who have left the Town or may still work there and who have been impacted by the Town’s refusal to listen to their employees complaints..
Codes, codes, codes. we write them, have public comment on them and then we enact them or in other words, place them into effect and then they lay there unused.
Codes that cover noise, (roosters, fireworks etc) litter laws, (keeping your yard like a junk yard), leash laws (dogs running at large in areas that prohibit this) Litter (carry in carry out) and the list is long.
Sometimes, searching for them will leave you frustrated. Take for instance the flag sign ordinance, floating signs, inflatable signs, temp signs, feather flag signs are supposedly banned by code and business along State Road and Route 1 have been told to remove them. Yet on Dennett Rd, the new 300 apartment complex is proudly flying four of them advertising their apartment availability. I was recently asked, “Why does the State rd. businesses get hammered but the Dennett rd. business appear to be exempt?”. If you try to find the code on the feather flags, it is hard to locate. There are references to it but nothing appears to directly speak to it.
Below are excerpts from the planning board minutes and definitons.
The planning board and the code once said around 2019 with a 4-3 vote!
I reached out to the Town Manager and below is her response which came back right away, and I might add and even on the weekend.
Thank you for passing on the question. I’ll have Code take a look. The rules for real estate signs (lease, sale, rent) are different than for other signs, but a quick look the photo it appears at the very least they have too many per that section of code.
I’m happy to respond to the resident with the question if you pass along their info. We can also have Code talk with them so they get accurate info and make the connection of who they can talk with if they have further questions or to pass on other examples of possible violations.
To help you be accurate in your blog, here is the link to the Town Code. This is what the Code Enforcement Officers use for their work. I’ve also attached both the most current version of the Town Code Title 16 Definitions, and Title 16 Signs for your convenience. Please note, zoning code is based on uses not people; meaning there are different rules for different uses, all of which can be found in the Town Code.
As you know, we get tips from time to time regarding possible violations or questions. We follow-up on the tips, and, if a violation is found, work with the property owners to ensure they come into compliance. Doesn’t matter who they are. In this case, the Code Enforcement Officer is reviewing the situation and will address with the property owner any violations that may exist. As I noted in my email this weekend, at the least it appears they have too many signs per the code relative to property sale, lease, or rental.
And again, please encourage people who have questions, or want to provide a tip of possible violation please have them contact the Code Enforcement team. Our team tries to respond to people quickly, follow-up on any tips of potential violations, and answer questions with accurate information.
If you have any questions, please let me know.
It has been two weeks and the flags are still there. I would suggest that if you’re a business in Kittery and want feather flags, reach out to the Code Enforcement Office. 207-439-0452. The caller was given the Towns Code enforcement number.
On 10-20-2023, I discovered the flags have been removed.
Regarding the 900 units apartment houses in the Business Park and that we stopped due to a petition to force the Town revert back to the previous ordinance, we still need to be vigilant. Anyone who watched the 7/17/2023 should be cautious of what the Town Chair, Judy Spiller and the rest of the council are planning. When it came time for the public hearing, Chairperson Spiller advised the crowd of about 35 (not including those who were watching) that tonight’s agenda is simply correcting the Zoning Map.
Effective verbiage kept the crowd’s comment to only one person. Resident Steve Tapley asked a question and Chair Person Spiller suggested is was more appropriate for him to ask it later during the discussion from members of the public.
Mr. Tapley’s question was how much acreage for single-family residential homes in the business park need to conform to (sic). This directly has to deal with the Business Park.
That gotcha moment, prompted Chairperson Spiller to suggest to Mr.Steve Tapley to ask the question later. There was no answer and in-fact, the Town Manager, a Massachusetts resident, appeared not to know the Town Code either. Note: She was seen later going over to Mr. Tapley and passing something to the resident that in my opinion should have been given to the public. After all he asked a questions many of us want to know the answer to.
That note perhaps containing information is public information and should have been given to the public. The Town manager should have asked Chairperson Spiller to be recognized and given the seriousness of the question, spoke to the resident, Tapley, and the people who were present and viewing from home and answered his question.
Even Councilor Dow does not understand what is happening. Then after being corrected, Councilor Dow pontificates and chimes in by telling Mr. Tapley he can look at title 16 and get all the information there. Maybe he should have suggested this to the Town Manager since she did not know the answer either. Shouldn’t the Councilor have stated, we will get you the answers!
Chairperson Spiller mentioned several times that tonight was just formality. However, please watch for yourself, Spiller makes a questionable statement just after telling the viewing public that nothing is going to change, she states, once the water shed report is submitted then we will see what we are going to do. At least she did not engage in her (my opinion) usual tactic of fear mongering and suggesting Amazon or FEDEX is coming.
It is my firm belief that the people through petition spoke. Coupled with the Council’s concerted behavior, after the vote took place and moved on, Spiller then decides to read letters from the public were pertinent to the Public Comments on the agenda item. It was a revelation when should found two emails and had to be corrected by the vice chair, Councilor Colin MacGregor that there were others as well.
Watch it here, its not long.
The citizens who took time to write their concerns and submit them for consideration felt it was to express themselves before the vote. The needed to be read aloud while the public comment section of that agenda item was open. Spiller chose to read them after it was voted on. What does it matter, in this case, not much I suppose, but what if it was to help tip the votes of the rubber stamp council and carried voting weight and changed a councilors mind.
Outrageous, one should exclaim! I digressed, back to the Tapley comment; what does the lot size matter? Well, the moratorium is only allowed to go one year. It was voted on for a six-month time limit then extended another six-month. Hence the year allowed by Maine State statute was about to expire.
Tapley’s question is important but could have been asked later but given the public hearing on the Business Park, the minimum lot size is important for the builders to make their millions. I believe there is 80 acres in the business park. If the minimum lot size is 2 acres, then 40 homes could conceivably go there, less if you count the wetlands, side-walks, roads and other residential attractions such as a park.
Tapley”s question was germane to the ordinance and perhaps the Council could have amended the ordinance, clarified their actions more explicitly, but they chose to vote and accept the changes. Was there any changes, or was it just the name of the zone? The public was still left with questions.
The Kittery Citizenry need to watch Spiller and the gang closely. As Councilor Frank Dennett (rip) once said, a well-placed comma or the word shall or will could have a profound effect on the interpretation of an ordinance.
Kittery does not always operate in the sunshine; a recent FOAA request was submitted requesting documentation of the status of the James Dineen property on Old Post Road. It was brought to my attention it was given away. If this is true, then there may be a legal issue with this since the Town has rules it is required to follow and this is your tax monies.
3.2.10 Disposal of Property.
A. All municipally owned property, real or personal, must be disposed of either by:
1. Trade-in on purchase of new equipment. Any item that is offered as a trade-in must also be offered for sale by competitive bid. The higher amount of the two (trade-in allowance or bid) must be accepted;
2. Sealed bids;
B. This chapter does not apply to disposal of:
1. Items commonly termed refuse, waste or trash;
2. Recycled material emanating from the solid waste facility;
3. Compost or sludge materials developed by treatment of sewage;
4. Interdepartmental transfers approved by the Town Manager;
5. Property whose estimated value is less than one hundred dollars ($100.00).
C. The above procedure must be followed at all times unless prior approval is obtained from the Town Council.
The property was supposed to be sold to offset the cost of litigation since the early 1980s that Kittery and Dineen played out in the legal system. This is not the first time, Kittery has operated questionably. There are countless others.
Just to name a few, the Taj Mahal (Town hall) built after the public said no or the Wentworth Dennett Schools building sold for peanuts. This is your property and every penny goes to lower property taxes.
I digress again so as we watch the business park and the Council, be mindful that property contains, animals, wetlands, abutters and it not about the developer and their millions they expect to recover, it is about our Kittery.
Perhaps since it the ordinance change has already been voted on and the moratorium has been lifted, the Zone map renamed to the business park, Kittery could now, once again place a moratorium on it until the results of the year long watershed report is reviewed and made public.