14 February 2005 | Approved: 14 March 2005
Mayor John Compton called the regular meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:35 p.m.. In attendance were Councilors Darrell Anderson, Linda Baim, Betsy Klinger, Tom Land, John Tomlin, Treasurer Mary Challstrom and Maintenance Supervisor James Fletcher. Town residents Charlie Challstrom, David Neumann, Bruce Rothrock, Ann Briggs, Georgette Cole, George Paine, and Bill Saar were also present. Gazette reporter Sarah Stefanini attended the meeting as well.
Approval of Minutes
John Tomlin moved, Darrell Anderson seconded, that the Town Council minutes of January 10, 2005 be approved. Vote: 6-0.
John Tomlin moved, Tom Land seconded, that the Treasurer’s report for January be accepted. There was a brief discussion about property tax and income tax. Vote: 6-0.
Jim Fletcher reported about the alarm/sprinkler system problem in McCathran Hall. The system was fixed and maintenance was done. Jim reported that he fixed the traditional swings in Woodward Park but the Horsey Swings are falling apart. He suggested replacement and a discussion ensued. Mayor Compton warned that radically changing playground equipment is dicey and suggested that we leave one of the Horsey Swings and add another piece of kid-friendly equipment beside it. The Mayor recommended that a group of residents get together to solve the problem. Jim also reported that he filled the salt buckets at problem intersections, met with WSSC, closed the field entrance across from 118 Ridge Road, and put up posts to guide the snow plows at various intersections. Jim asked the Mayor and Council for guidance concerning replacement of the fence behind 104 Maple Road.
Volunteer website coordinator Bill Saar came to discuss the Town website. He has secured Town domain names; washingtongrovemd.com & washingtongrovemd.org. There was a long discussion about options for the website including a calendar and the Town directory. The general sense was that a calendar was something that many people wanted and would use, but, for privacy issues, the Town directory was not going to be put on the website. Mayor Compton suggested that people have the ability to post their letters to County officials on the website. Bill Saar asked that the position of web-administrator be established and that we also buy the calendar software for our site. A $50.00 per month stipend would validate or formalize the position. More discussion…
Darrell Anderson moved to make washingtongrovemd.org & .com the Town website, to add the calendar and to formalize the web-administrator position by funding it until the end of the year at the cost of $50.00 per month. John Tomlin seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0.
Town Position on the Inter-County Connector
Mayor Compton reported that there were not enough residents at the February 5th Special Town Meeting to make a quorum. Therefore, the Council would be charged with documenting a Town position on the ICC. The sense of the Town Council was that the construction of the Inter-County Connector would not be in the Town’s best interest and would have a negative impact on Washington Grove.
David Stopak made a motion for Darrell Anderson to write a resolution stating the Town Council’s position about the ICC and send it, along with letters from residents, to the State Highway Administration. Tom Land seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0.
Board of Zoning Appeals Fee – Discussion
Mayor Compton gave a brief history of this issue. In order to cover advertising and court reporter’s costs, the Planning Commission wants to charge a fee to residents should they request a Board of Zoning Appeals hearing. The Commission would like the fee to be multi-tiered; a modest fee for the appeal with additional fees for a full transcript, if needed.
David Stopak moved to authorize Town attorney Bill Roberts to draft an ordinance with appropriate language to set fees. Further discussion of this item was tabled until the draft is presented. Tom Land seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0.
Discussion of Ordinance concerning Charitable, Religious & Educational uses within Residential Zones
Mayor Compton summarized the January 24th public hearing. A discussion ensued. Betsy Klinger stated that the sub-committee should work with the Washington Grove United Methodist Church representatives before we pass the ordinance. Darrell stated that the proposed ordinance, minus the 100ft. right-of-way, is a good one and reflects what the Town wants. David Stopak stated that we should be sure that the reference to number of trips doesn’t pertain to worship activities. Some councilors expressed concern with involving the WGUMC in the actual ordinance process and about the silence from any church representatives during the time when the record has been open. Discussion…John Tomlin and Betsy Klinger volunteered to be on the sub-committee. Betsy also agreed to call resident Episcopal priest Joe Clark to ask if he would also serve on the sub-committee. The Mayor and Council will leave the record open for further discussion until the next meeting of the Town Council.
Tom Land reported that the trash and recycling pickup seems to be going along pretty well. Tom also reported that the snow removal contractor hit a resident’s home with the sand truck and suggested that we withhold full payment until the repair is completed.
Tom Land reported that the Lake Committee has scheduled a meeting for March 8th and all are welcome. The Committee is searching for a new chairperson.
See the Maintenance Report.
Historic Preservation Commission
David Stopak reported that the Montgomery Preservation’s Conference on "Mansionization" will be held in McCathran Hall on April 8, 2005. The HPC would like to propose that the Town give out an "Outstanding Renovation" award at the Annual Town Meeting. The HPC is proceeding with the project of taking pictures of contributing structures for the Town archives and with regulations for the same. David also reported that the HPC would like the Council to promote their early review process. The Town Clerk suggested that a "friendlier" bulletin item might help. David will report that to the HPC.
Roads & Walkways
John Tomlin presented the Mayor and Council with a list of necessary road repairs in their order of importance.
Darrell Anderson reported the following;
- After much discussion, the Planning Commission concluded that building permits issued by the Town of Washington Grove should have time limits. Once a permit is approved the resident has 6 months to start the project and it must be completed within 2 years.
- Members of the HPC attended the Planning Commission meeting to work on documentation that will accompany an application for a building permit. Revisions were made and draft documentation will be given to the Town Council via the Town Clerk.
- John McClelland measured the shrubs at 102 Grove Avenue and determined that the shrubs are not within 25 feet of the intersection. The current Town ordinance does not seem to treat trees, hedges, shrubs, bamboo etc…as a fence.
- The increased use, by residents, of large propane tanks have brought to light the fact that our Town ordinances have nothing in place to handle these large items. Bud O’Connor volunteered to research the Montgomery County Code to see how they handle these tanks; treated as structures? Setback limitations?
- The Planning Commission proposed a modification to the Town ordinances by adding the definition of "pool" to Article 7, Section 4.2 ; adding "e. Swimming Pools" to Article 4, Section 1; adding "c. Pools require a five (5) foot fence (this does not supersede Section 3.328a.)". The motion was unanimously approved.
- The fence at 103 Grove Avenue is still non-compliant. In addition, no building permit application was ever submitted. Chairman McClelland has notified Mayor Compton via e-mail.
Mayor Compton warned about being so rigid with the Town ordinances. It does make enforcement easier but the Town does not have a municipal infractions ordinance and no way of collecting fines. The attempt to comply with the Town ordinances by the resident at 103 Grove Ave. was a good one and, therefore, the spirit was met. Tom Land suggested that this would be a perfect opportunity for the Planning Commission to work on the definition of a fence. Discussion… Betsy Klinger complained about the rigid enforcement in Town. What happen to live and let live? More discussion…
see the Maintenance Report.
see Website Report
- Casey Field Update – Mayor Compton reported that the Legacy Open Space field was one of many subjects discussed at a Montgomery County Council Town Hall Meeting on February 9th. The meeting was well-attended by Town residents.
- Shady Grove Master Plan – Mayor Compton reported that the PHED Committee is holding additional meetings. They are struggling with budget issues where a school site is concerned. The planners have gone back to the drawing board to produce a plan that uses less of the Legacy Open Space field and one, placed closer to the Shady Grove Metro, using an urban school design suggested by Councilor Praisner. A discussion about the library ensued.
- Deer Park Bridge – Mayor Compton reported that the workshop held in Gaithersburg was well attended. The Town study group was having lunch with some Deer Park residents in order to eliminate the "divide and conquer" tone of the County. This issue is pending.
- New Business — Mayor Compton reported that Bob Booher is working on some designs for the Cator property (17050 Railroad Street).
John Tomlin reported about the upcoming Municipal Electrical Aggregation press event. The Mayor and Council saw no harm in the idea of cooperative buying.
John Tomlin moved, Darrell Anderson seconded, that the meeting be adjourned. Vote: 6-0.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:36 p.m.