3 June 2015 | Approved: 1 July 2015
Chairman Challstrom called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were commissioners Brenda Gumula, Peter Nagrod, and Steve Werts. Others in attendance were Councilor Georgette Cole, Historic Preservation Commission member David Stopak and residents Joey Fones, Bud O’Connor and Ryan Young. Also present was property owner Shirl Harrison.
Approval of Agenda
Brenda Gumula moved to approve the agenda. Peter Nagrod seconded the motion. Approved: 4-0.
Approval of the Minutes
Peter Nagrod moved to approve the May minutes. Steve Werts seconded the motion. Approved: 4-0.
Ryan Young and Joey Fones came to ask about the status of the proposed shared bike path connecting the Town to the Shady Grove Metro Station. They asked for an update and offered strong support for the project. Charlie Challstrom reported he and John McClelland met with County representative Greg Ossant last week to discuss the proposed connection to Brown Street extended. Charlie also gave a brief history of the proposed connection, including the tax problems with the parcel known as Lot A. He went on to say the Town’s official position is one of support for this connection and a public hearing will be held when all the players are ready. David Stopak expressed his negative opinion of this connection stating the approval was 18 years ago and much has changed since then. There was a discussion about the perils of biking along Oakmont Avenue, Shady Grove Road and Epsilon Drive. Charlie thanked Ryan and Joey for coming.
Building Permit Applications
- 127 Grove Avenue – Fence – Brenda Gumula presented the documentation and explained the proposed fence. She recommended approval. Peter Nagrod moved to approve the building permit application for a fence at 127 Grove Avenue. John McClelland seconded the motion. Approved: 4-0.
- 403 6th Avenue – Brenda Gumula presented the documentation and explained the property corners were noted based on boundary surveys of properties flanking this one. The Commission discussed the diagram. There was confusion about the 6th Avenue piece. Brenda recommended a conditional approval. Brenda Gumula moved to approve the building permit for a fence at 403 6th Avenue pending owner’s concurrence that on 6th Avenue the fence can only be 4 feet high and must be entirely on the owner’s property (unlike the current fencing). John McClelland seconded the motion. Approved with conditions: 4-0.
- 117 Washington Grove Lane – wheelchair ramp. This permit application was withdrawn by the property owner.
Permanent Easement Request
- 409 5th Avenue – Bud presented four (4) copies of the identification plat showing the land for which the permanent easement is being sought, a letter to the Mayor requesting the easement and photographs of the area. Per the procedures for permanent easements, the letter serves as the application. There was a discussion about the materials. It was noted, although Bud did not outline the land in question with a unique line type as specified in the procedures, the Planning Commission felt confident recommending the Council issue the permanent easement for this land. Bud made the commitment to add the unique line type before presenting his request to the Historic Preservation Commission and the Town Council. Steve Werts moved to recommend the Town Council issue a permanent easement at 406 5th Avenue as specified in the documents. Brenda Gumula seconded the motion. Approved: 4-0.
- Ordinance No. 2015-03 – Revised version of proposed amendments – The Commission discussed the revised and restructured document known as Ord. 2015-03; Ordinance Adopting Amendments to Article IV, Sections 1 and 10 Regarding the Issuance of Permanent Easements for Main Buildings Initially Constructed in Part on Land Owned by the Town of Washington Grove. David Stopak said he was still confused about the role of the Town Council in the approval process in Section 10 B, 2.
John McClelland moved for the Planning Commission to recommend enactment of 2015-03 (Revision dated 3 June 2015) with removal of “and approved” from Section 10 B 2. Peter Nagrod seconded the motion. Approved: 4-0, as amended.
Harrison Property Subdivision – status report
Property owner Shirl Harrison presented revised drawing of the proposed subdivision including the recent input from the Historic Preservation Commission. There was a discussion about the benefits of tree screening provided by the stand of locust trees across from Roberts’ Oxygen. Charlie Challstrom complimented Mrs. Harrison on her decision to do maintenance vs. removal. There was a discussion about the following:
- The permit process
- Subdivision plan approval
- Input from Montgomery County
- Who develops the common areas (walkway & shared driveway)
- A crosswalk at Maple Avenue
John McClelland moved to approve the Plat of Subdivision presented by Shirl Harrison on 3 June 2015 with the removal of old language (dates & references to being outside Town boundaries) and the addition of new language verifying they are to be part of the Town. Brenda Gumula seconded the motion. Approved: 4-0. Charlie Challstrom will send a letter of confirmation to Shirl Harrison.
Non-Compliance As Applied to Fences – Discussion
Charlie Challstrom explained that this issue came about because of a question concerning temporary removal of an existing fence at 203 2nd Avenue for ease of construction of the new home. They discussed lawfully built fences that have become non-compliant because of new ordinances, fence heights, allowable rebuilds and bringing items into compliance when the property changes hands, all as pertaining to 203 2nd Ave. The discussion resulted in the opinion that only fences initially constructed on private land could be defined as lawfully constructed and allowed to be rebuilt in kind. So, if you want to maintain the non-compliance, you can, but you cannot move the structure. Steve and Charlie volunteered to measure and document Eva’s fence.
House Files: Status Report
Brenda Gumula reported information for 26 homes has been scanned to the computer. The project will continue with priority given to homes that are vacant, for sale and abandoned. Brenda and Georgette will meet once a month through the summer.
Report from Town Council
John McClelland reported Mayor McCathran is forming a task force to work on how to cut down on the number of abandoned and empty properties in Town. She will ask for one (1) member each from the TC, PC, and HPC to serve in this group.
The new Councilors were sworn in and new areas of responsibilities were assigned.
- John McClelland brought up the issue of parking large motor homes in Town. He would like to see the Town look into the area in between the Deer Park Bridge and Hanagan’s Auto Repair shop, currently leased to Bob Herbert, as a place to park these large vehicles. He also suggested the Town charge a fee to use the area.
- Charlie Challstrom reported the Ridge Road property markers are all in.
- Charlie Challstrom also reported his term on the Commission expired at the end of June and he would not be seeking another appointment. He went on to say it was time for a break but he would be available for help at any time. David Hix will be asked to become a regular member of the Commission and a new alternate will be sought. The Commission thanked Charlie for all of his time and efforts through his many years of service…applause.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:03 p.m.