OWLS HEAD — Planning Board Chair Russell Wolfertz resigned from the position on Monday afternoon, Jan. 17.

Wolfertz gave the hand-written letter to the Owls Head Select Board near the end of a meeting held to determine whether that board should remove him from the post he has held for four years.

The resignation was effective immediately.

The resignation was accepted on a 2-1 vote with Select Board member Tom VonMalder voting against. He had earlier said, as the board was prepared to vote on removal, that he did not think there were grounds to remove Wolfertz. He said that Wolfertz may have changed his mind on resigning if the board opted not to remove him.

Select Board Chair Gordon Page said this was a difficult issue and he wished it had not gotten to the point of a removal hearing but the Select Board had received complaints and allegations against Wolfertz. He pointed out that he and Wolfertz are friends, and that Wolfertz twice nominated him to the Select Board.

“He’s a volunteer’s volunteer,” Page said.

Page also noted that Wolfertz had been awarded a Purple Heart for being wounded while serving in the Vietnam War. Wolfertz is a veteran who saw combat in Vietnam. He is commander of the Winslow-Holbrook-Merritt American Legion post in Rockland.

Several residents spoke out in support of Wolfertz, citing his experience and dedication to the town.

The Select Board sent him a letter last month, saying the Jan. 17 meeting would be held to determine whether he would removed based on several allegations.

The allegations included:

“The making of verbal threats of violence towards members of the public and at least one member of the Select Board; the making of threatening statements in emails sent in your capacity as a member of the Planning Board; the making of statements that you would, among other things, bring tear gas or pepper spray and a gun to Planning Board meetings, which caused members of the public, and members of the Planning Board, to feel personally threatened; the placing of a loaded rifle magazine on the table during a Planning Board meeting; the failure to call and conduct Planning Board meetings necessary for the efficient operation of the Town; and the failure to ensure that Planning Board meeting minutes were properly and efficiently created and maintained,” the letter continued.

Wolfertz asked that the meeting be held in public.

Wolfertz defended his service, saying every action he has taken has been with the best interest of the town in mind. He said he has a weird sense of humor and that some people are overly sensitive.

He said he used the magazine as a gavel since there was no gavel available. He said that a magazine is not a weapon and no one had told him that they felt uncomfortable at that meeting. Wolfertz contended that this was an issue of personalities. He also said he has told the board that he is not able to both take minutes of a meeting and run the meetings.

Newly hired town Code Enforcement Officer Matthew Deane said he attended a recent Planning Board meeting and it was the most unprofessional one he has ever witnessed, and he attends such meetings in multiple towns.

“I’m embarrassed at what happened at the last meeting,” Deane said, saying Wolfertz was rude to another member.

Deane said if such actions occur again he will end his work with the town.

Last year, the Select Board opted not to reappoint Ken Wexler to the Planning Board. Wolfertz and Wexler were often at odds with the remainder of the Planning Board on issues related to airport projects as well as the Ash Point Farm events center. Both said they were adhering to the town’s ordinances.

Board member Linda Post said the Select Board’s consideration of removing Wolfertz had nothing to do with any votes but on the specific allegations listed in the letter.

Owls Head Selectboard members, from left, Tom VonMalder, Chair Gordon Page, and Linda Post at the Jan. 17 meeting. Photo by Stephen Betts