8 June 2015 | Approved: 13 July 2015
Mayor Joli McCathran called the regular meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Councilors Georgette Cole, Alison Faupel, Audrey Maskery, John McClelland, and Bud O’Connor. Also present were Treasurer Mary Challstrom, Planning Commission Chair Charlie Challstrom, Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts, residents Betsy Klinger, Barbara Raimondo, Ed Roberts, David Stopak, and property owner Dennis Kane. Three (3) of our Maryland State Delegation (Senator Nancy King, Del. Charles Barkley, Del. Kirill Reznik) were in attendance as were three (3) Montgomery County Police officers (Commander Parker-Loan, Lt. Hattenburg, Sgt. Howard,).
Approval of Agenda
The agenda was approved by general consensus.
Montgomery County Police Department
Mayor McCathran introduced Commander Willie Parker-Loan, Lieutenant Liz Hattenburg, and Sgt. Donna Howard from the 6th District. Mayor McCathran identified a few concerns: speeding and signage on Washington Grove Lane; enforcement (specifically at Maple Lake); and Deer Park Bridge weight restrictions. Commander Parker-Loan spoke about District 6, the number of officers, schedules, consistency, and the benefit of having a Community Officer (Scott Zimmerman). He urged the Mayor and Council to notify residents that calling for assistance is not a bother, no matter the situation. He also gave out the station’s 24/7 phone number to be used for any questions. Lt. Hattenburg stated our street signs are attractive but difficult to read at night and during an emergency response. Lt. Hattenburg expressed concerns that come along with our address system. The Mayor and Council thanked the members of the MCPD for attending our meeting and encouraged them to patrol the Town.
Report from our State Delegation
Mayor McCathran introduced Senator Nancy King, Del. Charles Barkley, and Del. Kirill Reznik. Senator King apologized on behalf of Del. Shane Robinson stating he was in England and unable to attend. She went on to say this was the best and most bi-partisan session she could remember. Each member spoke about accomplishments in their areas of responsibility. Specifically:
- Geographic Cost of Education Index (GCEI)
- School construction
- Keeping tuition costs down
- Highway User Revenues
- Retiree pension funding
- Double Pole Bill (referring to replacement telephone/power poles)
- Alcohol Beverage Sub-Committee
- Moratorium on Fracking
- Changes to Estate Tax and Inheritance Tax Laws
- Re-vamped Freedom of Information Act
- New Licensure for Professional Certified Midwives
- Community Solar Bill
- Changes to the rules for selling electric cars
- The need for changes to the procurement process at the State level
The Mayor and Council thanked the Delegation for attending the meeting.
Barbara Raimondo (414 Center Street) voiced her support for the construction of a shared-use bike path from Washington Grove to the Shady Grove Metro Station which is part of a larger path serving other areas in Montgomery County. She made reference to her letter of support written in 2012. She wanted to encourage the Town to move ahead and issue additional support for this project. Charlie Challstrom reported Greg Ossant from General Services is doing a feasibility evaluation and people from the Department of Transportation are also involved in the planning. County representatives would like to address the Town when the draft plan is ready. The Planning Commission is the body which will review the plan and recommend Town Council action. There was a discussion about the following:
- A 2012 legal commitment by the Town in favor of the project
- Resolution of a problem with back taxes on the out-lot at the end of Brown Street
- Anticipated volume of users
- Allowable uses by bikes, pedestrians and electric wheelchairs
- Vehicle weight limits
David Stopak stated he was in favor of the project but opposed to the proposed location and use of Brown Street extended. He presented an alternative route which would start at the end of Crabbs Branch Way, go north through a wooded area running parallel along 370 and the ICC in the lower field, through another stand of woods to the Shady Grove Crossing development using Castanea Lane and Picea View Court to get to Ridge Road. Then take Ridge Road to Brown Street and out of Town. David then presented three (3) reasons why Brown Street extended should not be used:
- With EMOC, the ICC and Roberts Oxygen, the area is already visually negative
- Brown Street extended has always been a dead end
- He would like to keep the future Amity Dr. extension as far away from Brown St. as possible.
David Stopak presented his opinion as to the benefits of the use of Ridge Road:
- It is already a pedestrian cut-through to Shady Grove Crossing
- It brings the Amity and Derwood communities closer to the path
- David finished by asking the Council to look at alternatives other than Brown St. extended.
Barbara Raimondo encouraged the Council to look at the route with the most direct route.
Ed Roberts (#6 The Circle) expressed his support for a change in location of Town Council meetings which would allow the Mayor and Council to face the public rather than half of them having their backs to the public. He believes each member should have his/her name in front of them as well. He stated there should be a committee or work group to look into this issue.
Approval of Minutes:
Mayor McCathran asked for approval of the minutes from the April 13, 2015 meeting of the Town Council by general consensus. John McClelland moved to make a correction. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. The minutes were approved as amended.
The minutes of the May 18, 2015 meeting of the Town Council were approved by general consensus.
Georgette Cole asked for follow up on two (2) items from the previous meeting: (1) The process for resident-sponsored uses of McCathran Hall and (2) Signage on Railroad Street at the STOP for Ridge Road. She proposed text in the order of- “On Coming Traffic Turning Right Does Not Stop” for the STOP facing the Town at Ridge and Railroad Streets. The Clerk offered to call the Montgomery County Department of Transportation to discuss the need for clarity.
- The Treasurer’s Report for June 2015 was approved by general consensus.
- Georgette Cole moved to transfer $5K from savings to checking in order to pay bills. Bud O’Connor seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0.
- Treasurers Report 2015-June pdf
Action on Budget Transfers Resolution 2015-05
John McClelland moved to introduce, adopt and make effective Resolution 2015-05; Budget Transfers FY 2015-05. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0.
Action on Ordinance 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
John McClelland moved to approve Ordinance 2015-03. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Georgette Cole explained the recent HPC additions to the language in this document. Bud O’Connor expressed concerns about the residents who may find themselves in the position of having to rebuild a house and about the lack of any language requiring photographic evidence of the exterior of the home. The Council discussed the contents of the easement agreement in terms of absolute language/specifics and concerns about opinions becoming rules or law. The Clerk took a roll call vote; Cole – Aye, Faupel – Aye, Maskery – Aye, McClelland – Aye, O’Connor – Abstain. The ordinance passed.
Abandoned Properties – Discussion/Possible Actions
The Mayor and Council discussed the loss of income tax revenue when a home is not designated a primary residence. There was a discussion about the following:
- Researching how other municipalities handle abandoned properties
- Differences between abandoned properties, empty homes and homes used on a part-time basis.
- Developing a registry of abandoned properties and Town authority to do so
- State regulations, County regulations and a process in the District of Columbia
- Deadlines and fines
- Voluntary enforcement
- Indigent people
- Liens on the property
- Forming a group to work on this. The group would consist of one (1) member each from the TC, PC, and HPC
This item will appear on the July agenda of the Town Council.
- The June Council Reports were approved by general consensus for posting on the website.
- Town Council Reports – July 2015 pdf
- Mayor McCathran asked if it was time to get started on an update to the 2009 Town Master Plan. There was a brief discussion resulting in the opinion that the Railroad Street Improvement Plan would fulfill the State requirement. Mayor McCathran asked John McClelland to propose this to the Planning Commission.
- Mayor McCathran reported she joined the Maryland Mayor’s Association which is part of the Maryland Municipal League.
Mayor McCathran brought forth the following people for appointments to the Planning Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals, Historic Preservation Commission and the Board of Supervisors of Elections:
- David Hix – 5-year term on the Planning Commission
- Marc Hansen – 3-year term on the BZA
- Bob Booher – 3-year term on the HPC
- David Stopak – 3-year term on the HPC
- Georgette Cole moved to approve the Mayor’s appointment. Bud O’Connor seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0.
- Georgette Cole moved to approve the Mayor’s appointments of Meredith Horan, Betty Knight and Kristin Perry to the Board of Supervisors of Elections retroactive to March 2015. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0.
- Mayor McCathran reported the Town-hosted breakfast for members of the Planning Board was a huge success. She thanked Mary & Charlie Challstrom, Shelley Winkler, Georgette Cole and Steve Werts for helping to organize this event.
- Mayor McCathran reported the Maryland Municipal League conference will take place in Ocean City, MD at the end of the month (June 28, 29, 30 & July 1). Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts will receive the State Employee of the Year Award at the convention.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 9:56 p.m.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:56 p.m.