14 May 2011 | Approved: 12 May 2012
Mayor Darrell Anderson welcomed everyone and called the 75th Annual Town Meeting to order at 8:05 p.m. There were over 50 residents in attendance.
Mayor Anderson asked for a moment of silence to remember those in need, service members, tornado survivors and flood victims. He then took a moment to show his birth certificate on the big screen to prove that he, like President Obama, was born in the United States.
Approval of Minutes
David Neumann moved that the Annual Town Meeting minutes from May 8, 2010 be approved. Mary Challstrom seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. Mayor Anderson noted that the minutes should act as a road map for the coming year. He thinks that the Mayor and Town Council should review the minutes in July or August in order to plan well.
Mayor Anderson reported that the state of the Town was; “we are doing OK”. This is partly because of the brave move of raising taxes last year and partly because of conservative budgeting and careful spending. The current economic crisis is hurting us. However, the Town volunteers continue to run programs and continue to be committed to offering fun Town activities despite the hard times. That says a lot about our Town. He went on to say that our volunteer pool is shrinking and that we need younger people to step up and get involved. We need to mentor new residents…a “Farm Team” so to speak. We need more volunteers in order to keep things going.
The Town still faces numerous challenges;
- Lower Ridge Road – the Toll development and monitoring the buffer along the road.
- Legacy Open Space – agreements between the Town and M-NCPPC. Both have a vision for the land and are working together. There should be a plan presented in the next 6-8 months. This is in good hands with the new committee.
- Deer Park Bridge – on-going.
- Casey 6 & 7 – This is a future challenge. It is currently in “limbo” because of the budget crisis in Montgomery County.
A truly note-worthy accomplishment this year is that we now own the LOS field! This is a legacy that we will pass on to future generations…a true success story.
Mayor Anderson talked about volunteers and asked everyone to take one of the handouts that address volunteer opportunities available in Town. He reminded everyone that the Town Council, as well as the Mayor, are also volunteers. They are not paid. They all have families, jobs, lives etc…. He asked for a round of applause for the Council. He recognized Marida Hines and Ted Kelly who had to resign this year and thanked them for their service. He also recognized, and named the chairs of, the Planning Commission, the Historic Preservation Commission, the Board of Elections and the Board of Zoning Appeals. He continued with an appropriate nod to the Recreation Committee, the Lake Committee, the Forestry Committee, Summer In The Parks, the Mousetrap Concert Series and the ad hoc Woods Group, Labor Day organizers, Woodward Park Coordinator, Maintenance Group, the Trash Brigade and the Lighting Committee. Many formative ideas have come from these ad hoc groups. In addition to the aforementioned, he thanked his wife Paula, a volunteer who didn’t really choose to be. He thanked her and all of the significant others that support the Town volunteers. Town employees Treasurer Mary Challstrom, Town Clerk Kathy Lehman and Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts were recognized and applauded as well.
This year there were four outstanding volunteers recognized by the Mayor and the Town;
- Terry Cox and Bruce Rothrock for their work as the “crew” for Town Maintenance.
- John Hutchinson for his long-term volunteer efforts at Maple Lake.
- Birgit Henninger as the Citizen of the Year.
The Mayor also recognized three people who will forever be a part of this Town’s story; the anonymous donor and attorneys Bil Chen and Bill Roberts.
Woods Group Initiative Report
Ann Briggs gave an overview of the accomplishments of the group in the form of a narrative and slide show. In both the East and West woods, problems with Deer browse, trash, invasive species (wisteria, mile-a-minute, greenbrier) continue to be a challenge. The West woods boasts new trails, the return of skunk cabbage, new identity fences (to show ownership of the area) and the benefits of the County storm drain improvements; the latter in the form of less trash and less erosion. The East woods have been the beneficiary of major trail improvements. There has been some discussion about a public education effort in the form of identifying points of interest, flora & fauna, old bottle dumps etc… Ann asked for more help with the projects that this group is undertaking.
The Town Clerk read the election results and then led residents in a rousing Happy Birthday to Board of Elections Supervisor Betty Knight who turned 85 on this day. The results are as follows:
- Georgette Cole 112 votes
- Audrey Maskery 102 votes
- Joli McCathran 105 votes
- Joe Clark 99 votes
- Alice Negin 111 votes
Write-ins (1 vote each);
- 3-year term – John Tomlin
- 2 year term – Aimee Coogan, Kathie Evans, Vinny Negin
- 1-year term – Aimee Coogan
Discussion of Town Council Reports
Mayor Anderson asked for questions. Residents asked about the following;
- Tennis Court Fencing – Fencing has arrived and will be installed by Town Maintenance and a crew of volunteers. The Mayor took a moment to thank everyone involved in this project.
- McCathran Hall Rental Policy changes – noise levels, amplified equipment restrictions, hours and cost are being reviewed.
- Mansionization Ordinance – the ordinance passed. It is the first step towards regulating this potential problem.
- Towne Crest development – Mayor Anderson explained that he had been made aware of a possible re-zoning request and subsequent demolition of the existing apartments and a rebuild that would triple the population in that area. This could only happen if the County Council approved the change in zoning. He urged people to come to the June 13th meeting of the Town Council to see a presentation of current ideas for the property. He also stated that the Town will want to be part of this process. The proposed new zoning would be County Zone PD60. Residents were also urged to review the Master Plan for that area. If the proposed new zoning change was not included in the Master Plan, the Town could dispute allowing this change.
Action on FY 2012 Budget and Tax Rates: Mayor Anderson reviewed the reasons for the current reduction in income;
- State Highway User Revenues are way down.
- County revenue sharing is now almost nothing.
- Town budgeted for $99K in revenue but the actual is only $68K.
He went on to say that these three (3) things alone make for a less spartan budget. He thanked the Council for the hard work on this budget. This current budget proposes to keep the Dwelling Tax the same @ $224 per household and the Tax Rate the same as FY 2011 @ $.221/$100.00 of assessed valuation. Residents should expect this type of budget to continue for the next few years.
Ann Briggs moved to accept the FY 2012 Budget.
Carol Uhlendorf seconded the motion.
Treasurer Mary Challstrom answered questions about the new fencing for the tennis courts and other budget items. Ann Briggs stated that as a result of the recent Special Town Meeting about the Deer Park Bridge some money needed to be added to this budget to cover the approved actions. The Bridge Committee would recommend that $9,000.00 be taken from Town reserves and put in 2H2.3 (Deer Park Bridge Consulting Fees) making the total in that category $10,000.00. Residents discussed this recommendation.
Kathie Evans moved to amend the proposed Town budget by taking $9,000.00 from Town reserves to cover Deer Park Bridge consulting fees. Ann Briggs seconded the motion. There was another brief discussion about targeting specific goals for the consultants. They should be looking at the impacts of both raising the current bridge and of lowering the tracks. The question was called. Vote: 51 For; 11 Against.
The question was called on the original motion to accept the FY 2012 budget as amended.
Vote: Unanimous (no nays)
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the proposed tax rate. Ann Briggs seconded the motion.
Vote: Unanimous (no nays)
Planning Commission Report
Chairman Eric Gleason introduced the Commission members and thanked them for their service. He went on to express their sadness at the loss of former Chairman Bob Evans saying that he was an inspiration and an excellent leader who provided objectivity and clarity to every discussion. Eric hopes to lead the Commission following Bob’s example.
The Planning Commission is working to further clarify the building permit process. They have also begun using an inspector which did result in an increase to the fee for a major building permit. That fee is now $100.00 and covers two (2) inspections. The inspector is also being used for code enforcement issues and this is going well. The Commission worked jointly with the Historic Preservation Commission on the Mansionization Ordinance. Eric said to look to the HPC for a set of guidelines on this and stressed the need to live with this ordinance for a while to actually see how it affects the Town. This is the first step in trying to control the issue of Mansionization. He explained the brainstorming process and the hard work by both Commissions. The Planning Commission is very interested in supporting the Town Council and other groups with our trans-border issues as well.
Historic Preservation Commission Report
Chairman Bob Booher thanked the HPC members for their service. He continued the discussion about the joint PC/HPC work. Bob reported that this was a good first step with realistic limits. He also stated that, so far, the character and scale of homes in Town is still pretty good. Bob mentioned the upcoming window workshop and said that the HPC hopes to continue to do similar things. He said that three (3) homes hit the 100 year mark this year; 120 Chestnut, 16 Maple and 313 Brown. Bob then announced the retirement of David Neumann and thanked him for being a stalwart member since the beginning of the Commission. There was a hearty round of applause for David. Gail Littlefield has agreed to fill the vacancy.
This year’s Historic Preservation Award went to the Evans’ for their addition at 317 Brown Street. Kathie accepted the award and thanked Architect Ralph Hurst and her contractor, BarMark.
Georgette Cole presented outgoing Mayor Darrell Anderson with a plaque in appreciation for all of his hard work and dedication during the past three (3) years.
With no further new business, the meeting was adjourned at 10:17PM and the roasting of the Mayor by The Groving Reporter (Judy Mroczka) began. When all was said and done, the Mayor received a heartfelt, standing ovation by residents.