OWLS HEAD — A member of the town Planning Board asked the Select Board Monday evening to review the behavior of the Planning Board chair, saying emails from him and a former member were bullying and threatening.

Maria Devery appeared before the Select Board Nov. 21 and read email exchanges with Planning Board Chair Russell Wolfertz and former board member Ken Wexler. The Select Board did not reappoint Wexler to the Planning Board and filled his position on Oct. 17 with Devery who had been an alternate.

Devery was one of several people who spoke to Select Board Nov. 21 to voice concerns and criticism of Wolfertz and Wexler.

“The bullying language in these emails is reprehensible, unprofessional, threatening and unbecoming an individual who represents the town,” Devery said.

The email exchange revolves around a request by Devery for the Planning Board to schedule a meeting. The board has not held a meeting since September and Wolfertz has refused to call another meeting. The bylaws of the board state that if the chair does not call a meeting, three members can call for one.

Wolfertz responded on Nov. 12 to Devery’s email that three members were calling for a meeting.

“Not worth a response. There are four ready to remove you. Your head is making a sucking noise on Ash Point,” Wolfertz stated in the Nov. 12 email to Devery.

Wexler, who was not addressed in Devery’s email, also responded to her on Nov. 12 after it was forwarded to him.

“It’s a mystery to many of us why you keep running to the Select-board every chance you get. Are you on that short of a lease (sic)? Hope you do better on this board than you did on school board,” Wexler stated.

Devery said Wolfertz and Wexler met Nov. 17 with the town’s code enforcement officer and discussed the Ash Point events center and airport projects. Wolfertz and Wexler had fought approval of both the events center and airport projects such as new hangars, claiming they did not meet the town ordinances. Wexler appealed the events center approval of the Planning Board to the town’s  Zoning Board of Appeals. He and Wolfertz also appealed the approval of the airport hangars to the Zoning Board and when that board declined to act, citing a missed deadline, they appealed to court.

Debbie Studley, an aunt of the Woodmans who are planning an events center at their Ash Point farm, said she has been shocked by the conduct of the two longtime Planning Board members, saying they have been rude and belligerent.

She said they have been enabled to act this way and that it was like a boys club.

Christina Woodman agreed and said Wolfertz had threatened to punch her husband in the face. The Woodmans had been seeking Planning Board approval for the events center but ultimately had to conduct a petition drive which led residents to approve an ordinance change to allow it at an August 2021 town meeting. The events center later received site plan approval from the Planning Board in March 2022.

Wolfertz said Tuesday, Nov. 22 that he might have said it (punching the man in the face) while walking through the parking lot but that it was “certainly not a serious threat to anyone.”

“I say a lot of stupid things but not in a serious vein,” Wolfertz said.

Resident John Murphy said he fully supports the Select Board’s decision not to reappoint Wexler to the Planning Board.

Budget Committee Chair Bill George said the town should adopt a code of conduct.

Select Board Chair Gordon Page agreed that a code of conduct was long overdue.

“I always hope adults will act like adults. When you have 65- to 75-year-old people acting like middle school students, it’s beyond comprehension,” Page said.

Select Board member Tom Von Malder pointed out the board has been aware of concerns and took action on one of the members (Wexler).

Page said Nov. 22 that the Select Board has not discussed taking action against anyone else but said it was within the authority of the Select Board to review complaints and take action if necessary. Last year, the Select Board rejected requests by the attorney for the Woodmans to remove Wexler and Wolfertz from the Planning Board.

Ken Wexler at an earlier meeting of the Owls Head Selectboard. Photo by Stephen Betts