OWLS HEAD — The Owls Head Select Board voted unanimously Monday afternoon to meet with a member of a town board to discuss possibly removing the person from that committee.

Select Board members did not identify the Board member but Planning Board Chair Russell Wolfertz said he expects it is him.

“I’m 99 and nine-tenths certain it is me,” Wolfertz said Tuesday, Dec. 20.

The Select Board said it would soon contact the person and try to schedule a meeting during the first half of January. The Select Board held a closed-door meeting prior to its Monday afternoon, Dec. 19 meeting to talk with its lawyer “concerning the rights and obligations of the Select Board regarding boards, commissions, and committees.”

Wolfertz said he is informing the Board that he wants any meeting to be in a public session. Government boards can hold closed door sessions, referred to as executive sessions, “only if public discussion could be reasonably expected to cause damage to the individual’s reputation or the individual’s right to privacy would be violated.”

“Me on the Planning Board will not make or break the town of Owls Head, but I’ve done my best for the town,” Wolfertz said.

Wolfertz has served on the Board for four years and his term runs through 2023.

If removed, he would be the second member replaced in the past few months. On Oct. 17, the Selectboard appointed Maria Devery as a full member of the Planning Board, filling the seat that had been held by Ken Wexler since 2013. His term expired in September 2022.

“I was surprised. I’m upset to be replaced with no notice,” Wexler said after he learned of being replaced.

“They disappeared me while I was gone,” Wexler said.

In late 2021, attorney Kristin Collins — who represented Christina and Jeff Woodman who had been trying to get approval for their event/gathering center at their 32-acre Ash Point Farm — asked the Select Board to remove Wexler and Wolfertz.

“I hope that the Selectmen will seriously consider whether this type of obstructionist and political approach is what you expect from serving Planning Board members, and consider removing Mr. Wolfertz and Mr. Wexler from the Planning Board,” she concluded in her letter to the Selectboard last year.

Select Board members decided the following month that the alleged actions by Wolfertz and Wexler during discussions of a proposed events center did not rise to the level of being removed from the Planning Board.

In November 2022, however, new Planning Board member Maria Devery asked the Select Board to address the behavior of Wolfertz, accusing him and former member Wexler of bullying her.

The Select Board has also discussed whether to create a code of conduct for boards.

Wolfertz said disagreements have become personal when he was only trying to follow town ordinances while serving on the Planning Board.

“I try to be polite but I’m not always polite. Some people get me to a point where it is not in my vocabulary,” he said.

He said he had no intention to step down.

“I will stand and fight for Owls Head as long as I can,” he said.

Wolfertz and Wexler had fought approval of both the events center and airport projects which have come before the Planning Board during the past few years. The two contended those projects did not meet the town ordinances. Wexler appealed the events center approval by 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.

That court case concerning the airport hangars remains pending. The events center has been approved.

The attorney who represents the couple who want to have an events center at their Ash Point Farm has asked the Owls Head Select Board to remove two members from the town’s Planning Board.

The Planning Board members, however, say they have done nothing wrong and have tried to adhere to town ordinances and the comprehensive plan.

Attorney Kristin Collins made her request in an Oct. 14 letter, claiming misconduct by Planning Board members Russell Wolfertz and Ken Wexler.

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 (threatening to punch 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.