7 February 2000 | Approved: 13 March 2000
Mayor John Compton called the meeting to order at 7:55 p.m. In attendance were Councilors Dave Gumula, Paris Pacchione, Nick Suzich, Dodie Tippens, Carol Uhlendorf and Allen Winter. Town residents present: Vicki Andrews, Ann Briggs, Gary Gordon, Audrey Maskery, Jean Myers, George Paine, Paula Puglisi. Washington Grove Hills residents present: Mimi Bolotin, Tony and Connie DeIuliis and Mike Voigt. Also present: Bob Ellis and Jack Kontgias, contract purchasers of the WSSC property; David Shepard, owner of The Prime Choice Caterers; Gaithersburg Gazette reporter Karen O’Keefe; Harry Stone, attorney for Atlantis Associates.
Gary Gordon, 400 Center Street, expressed dissatisfaction with both the recent tar and chip paving of Center Street between Maple Road and Maple Avenue and the snow removal in this section. He asked that this section be repaved the next time Center Street is repaved in its entirety and that snow be removed from this section in the same manner as every other paved street in Town.
George Paine presented the Town archives with a dog food bag given to him by the owners of Williams Feed. The bag label reads Herbert Bryant, Inc., Washington Grove, MD. George also reported that he has received one offer of help with the Grove web site.
Approval of Minutes
Carol Uhlendorf moved, Dodie Tippens seconded, that the Town Council minutes of January 10, 2000 be approved. Vote: 6-0.
Carol Uhlendorf moved, Paris Paccione seconded, acceptance of the Treasurer’s report. Vote: 6-0. Nick Suzich moved, Dave Gumula seconded, that the Treasurer be authorized to transfer funds, if necessary, to pay bills in Febrnuary. Vote: 6-0.
Mayor Compton announced the following:
- Planning Commission member Bill Glass has resigned. Applicants are sought to fill the vacancy and a replacement will be appointed in March to serve out the term, which runs until July 2003.
- Ann Briggs and Mayor Compton met with the Sierra Club Conservation Committee to enlist their support for including the Casey property in the County’s Legacy Open Space Program. A walking tour of the property has been scheduled for February 13.
- The State recently conducted a review of the Town’s Forest Conservation Program and options were discussed to complete the off-site planting requirements for Brown Street Station. Ward Corporation will be asked to send funds, in lieu of planting, to be spent on upcoming Forestry projects.
- Audit Report — Nick Suzich moved, Carol Uhlendorf seconded, acceptance of the Audit Report for the year ending June 30, 1999, prepared by Lindsey & Salita. Vote: 6-0.
Local Map Amendment to Rezone WSSC Property
Allen Winter told Bob Ellis and Jack Kontgias, contract purchasers for the WSSC property, that their application for a local map amendment would not be accepted until the Planning Commission has an opportunity to finalize the conditions to be attached to the rezoning. Allen said that he expects the application to be accepted in February and that the Town Council will likely introduce an ordinance and set a date for the public hearing at their March 13 meeting.
Zoning Text Amendment to Permit Zoning or Rezoning with Conditions
Paris Pacchione moved, Allen Winter seconded, adoption of Ordinance No. 2000-01 adopting amendment to Section 13 of the Washington Grove Zoning Ordinance to permit the Town to place conditions on the zoning or rezoning of property. Paris Pacchione stated that adoption of this ordinance was a prudent move to strengthen the Town’s ability to enforce conditional zoning. Allen Winter indicated two areas of concern with the enforcement section of the ordinance as drafted. With regard to Section 13.132 of Same, Violation of Conditions, sections (a), (b), and (c), Allen said that giving a property owner 60 days to abate a violation of the conditions is too long. If the violation is denied or not abated, Allen said that the Board of Zoning Appeals should hold the required hearing rather than the Town Council. Allen said that the Council should not sit in judgment about violation of conditions that they imposed. Dave Gumula stated that the language was much too harsh and he would like to see more work done on the ordinance.
Paris Pacchione moved, Allen Winter seconded, that consideration of this ordinance be postponed and reconsidered at the next regular Council meeting to allow the Council to make modifications to the ordinance. Vote: 6-0.
The Council scheduled a work session for February 28 to discuss issues of concern with Town Attorney Bill Roberts.
Introduction: Ordinance Authorizing Cable Television Franchise Transfer
Carol Uhlendorf moved, Allen Winter seconded, introduction of Ordinance No. 2000-03 authorizing the transfer of a non-exclusive cable television franchise from Prime Communications-Potomac, L.L.C. to Comcast Cable of Maryland. Mayor Compton introduced concerns expressed by municipal interest groups. The main issue is that of permitting open access by other Internet service providers. The County will hold a public hearing on February 15. Vote: 6-0. The Town Council scheduled a public hearing on this ordinance for Monday, March 6.
Discussion: Washington Grove Hills Annexation Terms
Mayor Compton reported that he had discussed annexation terms with all residents of Washington Grove Hills with the exception of the Koerner family, who are presently living overseas, and Mrs. Voigt. Reaction has been mostly favorable with concerns being zoning, number of dogs allowed, and existing structures which don’t meet Town setbacks. The Mayor said that he would prepare an annexation proposal and consent form to be mailed in early March. He would like to introduce an annexation resolution at the March 13 Council meeting. The Town Council agreed by consensus with the following outline for an annexation proposal:
- property to be annexed will be placed in the Town’s RR-4 Zone
- grandfather possession of more than two dogs
- grandfather existing setbacks
Introduction: Zoning Text Amendment to Add Low Density RR-4 Residential Zone
Nick Suzich moved, Carol Uhlendorf seconded, introduction of Ordinance No. 2000-04 adopting amendments to Sections 2 and 9 of the Washington Grove Zoning Ordinance to add a low density RR-4 residential zone with a 18,000 square foot minimum lot size. This new zone is proposed to accommodate the annexation of Washington Grove Hills and will help to meet forest conservation requirements. Vote: 6-0. The Town Council scheduled a public hearing on this ordinance for Monday, March 6.
Discussion: Catering at Commercial Corner and Commercial Corner Improvements
Harry Stone, attorney for the owner of the Grove’s commercial corner Atlantis Associates, said that the property owner has agreed to discuss upgrading the commercial corner in connection with the Town permitting The Prime Choice Caterers continued operation. Mr. Stone said that $2,000 per month could be put toward improvements at the corner but that a text amendment would be necessary to permit the catering use to continue. Allen Winter said that, although the Planning Commission remains opposed to food operations at the commercial corner, he supports Mayor Compton’s suggestion that an agreement be pursued. It was suggested that a text amendment to permit catering as a special exception be considered including a periodic review schedule to assess impact on the neighborhood. The catering use would be discontinued if the current business were sold. Concerns were raised about the type and duration of renovations to the commercial corner. Dave Gumula said that there should be a specific proposal for renovations and that negotiations should be completed by a specified date.
Mayor Compton said that negotiations could take some time to complete and it would be likely that the Planning Commission or Town Council would introduce a text amendment if necessary. Allen Winter moved, Nick Suzich seconded, that the Town discuss with The Prime Choice Caterers and Atlantis Associates, a binding agreement for renovation of the commercial corner and continuation of The Prime Choice Caterers as a permitted business at the commercial corner. Vote: 6-0.
Mayor Compton will ask Town Attorney Bill Roberts if a business license may be issued to The Prime Choice Caterers. The Mayor assured the Council that conducting negotiations in no way jeopardizes the Town’s ability to act against the catering operation if agreement cannot be reached.
Roads and Walkways
A notice will be put in the Town Bulletin asking for suggested road improvements.
The unusually heavy snowfall of late January combined with extended cold temperatures prompted discussion of snow-related responsibilities. It was decided that when the Town has a snowfall in excess of six inches that is unlikely to melt within a reasonable period of time, the following measures will be taken: the Town’s snow contractor will be asked to plow the parking area across from McCathran Hall, a strip along Chestnut Road near the Hall, and the parking spot adjacent to the Town Office. Town maintenance staff will be asked to shovel paths around the Town Hall and to carve notches through snow banks, providing access to heavily used walkways.
Carol Uhlendorf reported that a Forestry workday will be held on Saturday, April 8, to plant 25 white oak trees. The Forestry Committee recommends that the State spray B.t. (Bacillus thuringiensis) for gypsy moth control. Under optimum conditions, a second spraying will not be needed, however, if it is windy or rainy it may be necessary for the Town to spray again in the most heavily invested areas. Carol also reported that the Forestry Committee would work to gain Tree City U.S.A. and Maryland PLANT Community status for Washington Grove.
Dodie Tippens announced that the Town has been awarded a $1,500 safety grant from the Local Government Insurance Trust to be used for dredging the diving well at Maple Lake. EQR has completed dredging an additional 6 feet. However, the valve controlling the outflow from the lake is possibly broken and might need to be replaced. EQR estimates the valve replacement to cost $2,400. If both the valve and the drainpipe through the dam need to be replaced, EQR’s estimate is $5,400.
Carol Uhlendorf reported that County Council member Phil Andrews has been invited to speak to the Council prior to their March 13 meeting at 7:00 p.m.
Town Hall Coordinators
Carol Uhlendorf announced that Kathie Evans has agreed to schedule Hall Coordinators and is working on a plan to coordinate Hall use to present at the March 13 Council meeting.
Town Hall Improvements
Allen Winter reported that he is preparing a request for proposals for the Town Hall windows.
It was suggested that U.S. Lawns be consulted about reconditioning the soccer/baseball fields.
Dodie Tippens announced that Kathi Carey Fletcher and Barbara Leng have agreed to co-chair the Recreation Committee. The Swing Time Big Band will play for a dance in the Town Hall on February 26. Nick Suzich reported that Summer in the Parks planning has begun and an increase in fees is being considered to reduce the Town subsidy.
Paris Pacchione agreed to take on the Public Safety Council assignment. Dodie Tippens will write a piece for the Town Bulletin about a girl who was recently bitten by a dog running loose on Maple Road.
Allen Winter reported that the Planning Commission has scheduled a meeting for February 24 to continue discussion on commercial corner uses. Town Attorney Bill Roberts has suggested language for a text amendment which includes uses permitted both by right and special exception. The proposed text will be included with the February Bulletin. Mayor Compton suggested that the Commission begin to consider text amendment language to facilitate an agreement with The Prime Choice Caterers.
Mary Challstrom announced that the Local Government Insurance Trust will present the $1,500 Safety Grant at the April 10 Council meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:32 p.m.