1 April 2015 | Approved: 6 May 2015
Chairman Challstrom called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were commissioners Brenda Gumula, David Hix, John McClelland, Peter Nagrod, and Steve Werts. Also in attendance were Councilor Georgette Cole, Mayor Joli McCathran, HPC members Bob Booher and Gail Littlefield, neighbor Maria Medina, property owner Shirl Harrison and residents Joe Clark and Travis Davison.
Approval of Agenda
Peter Nagrod moved to approve the agenda. Steve Werts seconded the motion. Mayor McCathran asked to move the Town Boundaries discussion to after Public Appearances. Approved: 5-0, as amended.
Approval of the Minutes
Brenda Gumula moved to approve the March minutes. Steve Werts seconded the motion. A few changes were made. Approved: 5-0, as amended.
HPC Chair Bob Booher asked to have a discussion about the building permit review process. This discussion will occur after the Town boundaries discussion.
Town Boundaries Review – Status Report
- Silver Dollar Court – Non-resident property owner Maria Medina came to discuss the receipt of a letter from Charlie Challstrom concerning the removal of a split rail fence that is located on Town land. Charlie explained the reason for the letter was prompted by the new Forest Management Plan (not yet completed) and by the fact that the property is now on the market. He also gave a brief history of the old chain link fence in the area which was likely damaged when a large tree fell on it and then removed. Ms. Medina explained she has been aware of the encroachment since the day she purchased the home. She then asked what the Town wanted to do about the encroachment. Charlie explained the Town would like to remove the fence before the property changes hands. Ms. Medina agreed this was a good time to take care of the issue. She went on to ask the Town for help with the problem of parking commercial vehicles on the Town side of Boundary Street. She explained that people from Towne Crest were parking their commercial vans and trucks along Boundary Street because they are not allowed to park them in the apartment complex. There was a discussion about signage, a parking control plan, getting help from Montgomery County police, picking up trash and mowing in the area. The next Commission meeting will have “parking control plan” on the agenda and specifically address Boundary Street and the railroad station.
St. Ives Place – There are homes on St. Ives Place in the Saybrooke community of Gaithersburg that are encroaching into the West Woods. John McClelland reported he called the Jackson’s at 9 St. Ives and asked them to remove a trampoline and a tire swing from Town land. He will follow up with a letter about this action. Brenda Gumula asked about the difference in liability issues with a stacked rock wall vs. a trampoline. John explained the trampoline was an attractive nuisance and the rock wall was not. The Commission discussed the following:
- Landscaping on Town land at other homes in Saybrooke
- Other liability issues
- Notifying all encroaching properties along Town borders
- The new Forest Management Plan directives
- A policy to address encroachments on our boundaries
- The return of a Towne Crest development plan in the near future
David Hix stated as a general rule of thumb for such things, perhaps the Planning Commission should be considered the research group and the Town Council the enforcement body. In conclusion, John will follow up with the Jackson’s and the Mayor will follow up on the other encroachments.
Building Permit Applications
- 118 Grove Ave. – Fence replacement. Charlie Challstrom explained the fence is rotting, being held up with a make-shift attachment of 2 x 4’s, could be considered a safety issue and is located on Town land. The resident (Travis Davison) verified the new fence would be 4 feet high along the rear lot line of the property and 6 feet high along the property line between 114 Grove and 118 Grove. Travis presented a signed agreement between him and Paul Lembesis concerning the replacement of the 6 foot privacy fence bordering both properties. Because of extenuating circumstances (potential safety issue, neighbor agreement, fixing a non-compliance) the Commission decided it would be in the public’s best interest to consider approval of the permit application at this meeting.
- Peter Nagrod moved to approve the building permit application for a new 4 foot stockade fence on the rear property line and partial replacement of 6 foot stockade fence between 114 and 118 Grove Ave. John McClelland seconded the motion. Approval: 5-0.
- 402 Grove Ave. – Peter Nagrod reported setbacks and lot coverage requirements are fine. Peter Nagrod moved to approve the building permit application for a pergola a little less than nine (9) feet tall and 180 square feet total. Steve Werts seconded the motion. Approval: 5-0.
- 104 Pine Ave. – Charlie Challstrom reported a building permit application for solar panels was approved via the Town process for same earlier in the month.
- Building Permit Review Process/Discussion – Bob Booher started the discussion with a summary of the HPC’s role in the process. He stressed the HPC does not wish to be seen as an impediment in the process but would like the same look ahead time enjoyed by the PC along with better coordination between the two (2) bodies. He went on to say the HPC reviews have been timely and that the “early review” has been talked up a great deal. He thought the timing concerns had been fixed with the idea of considering a building permit application complete only when the HPC review was attached. There appears to have been a misunderstanding. There was a discussion about better publicity for the HPC, considering the HPC as a resource, helping residents see the value in the HPC, the benefits of the HPC suggestions, and the benefits of historic homes and historic towns. Steve Werts suggested a slide show at the upcoming Annual Town Meeting and Peter Nagrod suggested a work session with the PC and HPC.
Harrison Property Subdivision – Status Report
Chairman Challstrom reviewed the history of the plan for this property and pointed out some items yet to be finished (Forest Conservation and Survey). Charlie asked Mrs. Harrison about some locust trees that are in the right-of-way. In addition to being dangerously close to the road, they drop limbs during heavy wind and rain making them a real traffic hazard. Peter Nagrod brought up the condition/requirement of the creation of a walkway to connect the homes on this property. There was a discussion about the following:
- Conditions of subdivision
- Compatibility with the Town
- Shared driveway – not a cul-de-sac
- Criteria for RR-4 Cluster method of development
- Position of porches and detached garages
- Disseminating conditions to builders and buyers
- An updated letter of approval
- Forest conservation and survival of trees
- Sediment control
- Sale of land to one (1) developer or sale of each lot individually
- Allowing for a some encroachment into the railroad buffer if it makes for better placement of a detached garage – flexibility
- Possibility of a sign-off in less than 30 days
Public Ways and Property Permit – Town Garage addition
Brenda Gumula moved to approve a Public Ways and Property Permit for the addition to the Town Garage. David Hix seconded the motion. Approval: 5-0.
House Files: Status Report
Brenda Gumula reported the group has finished The Circle. Some of the properties are incomplete and far more challenging than expected. They are hoping to get further information after a survey of the Block 11 alley is completed. The next task is to work on empty homes including those currently on the market.
John McClelland reported a public hearing for Ordinance 2015-03 will occur on April 13, 2015. For the record, Bob Booher stated the HPC did not agree with some of the language proposed by the Town attorney and will ask for a delay until the issues can be worked through. John also reported the Town Council briefly discussed driveway aprons on Ridge Road and Town emergency preparedness plans for the future.
- 203 2nd Avenue – Someone asked about a status for this property. It is believed the County permits are near completion.
- 206 Chestnut Avenue – Given the permit just issued to 118 Grove Avenue, John McClelland asked about the new fencing across the rear property line at 206 Chestnut. How did a repair turn into 36 feet of new fencing? He made reference to the need for consistency. The Commission discussed asking the Mayor to write a letter to the homeowner asking for the fence to be lowered to the allowable 4 feet on the property line facing a public way, moving it back the allowable 7 feet in order to keep the 6 foot height or removing it completely.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:03 p.m.