Kittery residents need to watch the Town Council

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;

3.   Auction.

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.

Watch them closely.

The full meeting here.