8 November 1999 | Approved: 13 December 1999
Mayor John Compton called the meeting to order at 8:12 p.m. In attendance were Councilors Dave Gumula, Paris Pacchione, Nick Suzich, Dodie Tippens, Carol Uhlendorf and Allen Winter. Town residents present: Darrell Anderson, Charlie Challstrom, Paula Puglisi, Ed Roberts and Diana Talbert. Washington Grove Hills residents present: John Tomlin and Mike Voigt. Gaithersburg Gazette reporter Lori Launi and Atlantis Associates attorney Harry Stone also were present.
Approval of Minutes
Carol Uhlendorf moved, Dodie Tippens seconded, that the Town Council minutes of October 11, 1999 be approved as corrected.
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 November. Vote: 6-0.
Mayor Compton announced the following:
- Attended meeting with County planning staff about the Legacy Open Space program and its appropriateness for the 45-acre Casey property along Ridge Road. Meeting attendees included Mimi Bolotin, Ann Briggs, Charlie Challstrom, and Shelley Winkler. There is reason for optimism that this property would be eligible for the program in the future.
- Builder Martin Berman will attend December Planning Commission meeting representing Cator family interests to discuss advantages of being annexed by Washington Grove.
- Received letter from Atlantis Associates attorney Harry Stone about difficulty finding tenants for space at the commercial corner.
- Owners of vacant house at 112 Chestnut Avenue will ask Fire Department to demolish the house by fire as a training exercise in the spring. A new house will be built on the property.
Asphalt Street Repair
The following three bids were received and opened:
- B & B Paving $9,254
- Superior Paving $9,771
- A.B. Veirs $13,185
It was suggested that references be obtained for the two lowest bidders and, based on satisfactory references, that the contract be awarded to the lowest acceptable bid. Nick Suzich moved, Dodie Tippens seconded, to accept the lowest acceptable bid. Vote: 6-0.
Washington Grove Hills Annexation
Mayor Compton presented background details on the Washington Grove Hills subdivision and reported that a final obstacle, that the County would require a developer to widen Ridge Road and open it to the proposed Casey subdivision, is no longer a threat. County planning officials have assured the Town that the narrow, rural nature of Ridge Road would preclude this requirement. The Town’s Planning Commission has recommended that the Town proceed with annexation. The Mayor outlined issues to be considered including the impact on Town facilities, operations and costs. Currently zoned R-90 (9,000 sq ft lot size) in Montgomery County, a Town zone must be determined along with any other provisions of an annexation agreement e.g. tax abatement. With annexation, in addition to taxes on real property, Washington Grove would realize an increase in income tax revenue as well as County/municipal tax duplication revenue and State highway user revenue, both of which are based on road mileage. Washington Grove Hills taxpayers, while paying property tax to Washington Grove, would experience a decrease in the taxes they pay to Montgomery County.
Commercial Corner Uses
Planning Commission liaison Allen Winter distributed a draft response to Atlantis Associates describing the conclusions reached by the Planning Commission and the criteria used to evaluate each new use proposed by Atlantis for the commercial corner. The Commission used the criteria to measure the impact of the use on the adjacent residents and the Town as a whole. Town Attorney Bill Roberts will be asked to review the draft response prior to a final review by the Planning Commission and Town Council at their December meetings. Mr. Roberts will forward the Town’s response to Atlantis Associates.
Consolidated Tax Billing
Mary Challstrom reported that she and Mayor Compton met with Montgomery County finance staff to discuss County collection of Washington Grove property taxes. Washington Grove and Laytonsville are the only County municipalities that still collect their own taxes. The County would perform tax collection free of charge. With mandatory semi-annual property tax collection beginning next year, this is the time to initiate a change. A charter amendment might be necessary. Dave Gumula moved, Nick Suzich seconded that Washington Grove authorizes Montgomery County to act as its agent for tax collection.
Allen Winter reported the following.
- Commission awaits a specific plan from the Ellis Group demonstrating how the forest conservation requirement would be met under the re-zoning to RR-1 that Ellis has requested.
- Commission supports the concept of a bike trail across the Casey property suggested by Washington Grove Hills resident Mike Voigt.
- Town has not received plans to review for a satellite dish at the Post Office.
- Commission decided that no change to the Town’s Code of Ordinances to permit either child day care or adult day care is required at this time.
- Commission does not understand need for driveway permit procedure or how it would affect Town residents.
- ForestryCarol Uhlendorf reported that Ann Briggs and Pete Kollasch continue to investigate tree inventory software.
Carol Uhlendorf distributed copies of the legislative priorities that the Maryland Municipal League membership voted to work on in the upcoming session of the General Assembly. Carol said that she has invited Assistant State’s Attorney Alex Foster to speak at the December Council meeting and added that she would like to invite the Gaithersburg Mayor and Council to a Grove function next year.
Town Hall Improvements
Carol Uhlendorf reported that Nick Suzich is looking into new tables for the Town Hall and that a permanent exterior lighting plan for the Town Hall is needed.
Dodie Tippens reported that Cal Reznek has completed the Newcomer’s Packet and the packets are ready for distribution. Santa will visit the Grove on a fire engine in December.
Dodie Tippens reported that, despite a lot of effort, she has not been able to get another estimate for dredging the diving well. The estimate from Environmental Quality Resources is $3,700. Dave Gumula moved, Paris Pacchione seconded, that a contract be awarded to EQR to dredge a 12×16-foot area to a depth of approximately 3 feet. Vote: 6-0.
Paris Pacchione reported that Jim Fletcher and crew have stained and varnished the bare wood part of the new maintenance addition. Paris also reported that Jim has been monitoring a large dying oak overhanging McCathran Hall. This fall, two tree contractors recommended removal, saying that perhaps the tree might leaf out one more time. Jim is recommending removal at this time because of the danger posed by its proximity to the hall. It was the consensus of the Council to accept the lower bid for the tree’s removal. Paris reported that Jim accepted delivery of the bench for the MARC shelter and took it to the shelter where Christine Dibble and Glenn Perry assembled it. Jim attended the annual Community Forestry Workshop held in Westminster.
Mary Challstrom reported that the reception for Grove Historian Phil Edwards was well attended and many history books were purchased and signed. Gail Littlefield planned and executed the wine and cheese party for Phil. Receipts from book sales are over twice the amount anticipated for this year.
Mayor Compton reported that he has asked several residents to serve on the new Tree Improvement Advisory Committee including Joli McCathran and Ann Briggs.
After several complaints about Asplundh’s work in trimming Town trees, Mayor Compton said that he would write a letter to Pepco expressing the Town’s dissatisfaction with Asplundh and requesting a cooperative effort to improve the quality of work on Town trees.
Mary Challstrom reported that David Neumann and Michael Post were instrumental in repairing the Town computer when the hard drive was damaged.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:10 p.m.