20 June 2017 | Approved: 18 July 2017
Members Present: Bob Booher, Wendy Harris, Gail Littlefield, David Stopak, Mimi Styles, and John Compton. The meeting was called to order at 7:30 pm.
Approval of Agenda:
The agenda was reviewed and approved, as amended.
Adoption of Minutes:
The draft minutes from the meeting of May 16, 2017 were approved unanimously.
New Town Council Representative:
John Compton was welcomed to the HPC. He is replacing Georgette Cole.
Expansion of National Register nomination: There was a discussion of the order of the tasks to be accomplished as part of the updated nomination. Tasks included in the first phase will address the architecture (inventorying and classifying all structures, extending periods of significance), the streetscape, and the cultural landscape (i.e. the woods and other open spaces). Tasks included in a subsequent phase will focus on extending the historic district’s boundaries (newly annexed areas and areas that were included previously but not emphasized). Wendy Harris reported that she has begun work on the scope of work for the RFP, consisting mostly of an evaluation of the existing house histories and how they might be augmented by a consultant. Additionally, Clare Kelly has supplied the HPC with a list of historic themes that might be considered when evaluating structures and the landscape. Gail Littlefield reminded the group that the bridge and the railroad should also be addressed in the updating. She suggested that the consultant be asked to produce an educational video devoted to the Town’s historic significance.
There was a discussion of a June 8 letter from the Emergency Preparedness Committee stating that they had adopted a recommendation that “ . . . brown aluminum street name signs be installed on all paved roads, streets, and lanes in Washington Grove.” Furthermore the committee’s letter stated that they recognized “ . . . the aesthetic concerns about replacement of the existing wooden signs that the Council must consider, however, the risks to life and property that arise when emergency response vehicle drivers are delayed by difficult to read signs appear more significant. The aluminum signs can also be expected to have a lower initial and life-cycle cost than wood.” Gail Littlefield’s ongoing research on wooden street signs, however, appears to contradict this. She reported that she is already in consultation with the Montgomery County Fire & Rescue about how the Town can achieve a balance with historicity and safety improvements. Additionally, she has confirmed with Peter Kurtze of the Maryland Historic Trust and Clare Kelly of Montgomery County Planning that Washington Grove’s street signs are the only wooden historic street signs in the county and in Maryland. Gail will draft and circulate a response to the Emergency Preparedness Committee’s letter. HPC Chair Bob Booher may discuss this with the Committee prior to sending it. At some point in the near future Gail will make a presentation to the Town Council.
Design Guidelines Working Group:
Mimi Styles reported that she, Wendy Harris and Pat Patula continue to meet. Each is working on a specific design element (Mimi: Porches; Pat: Fences; Wendy: the streetscape). The recommended guidelines are becoming more specific and as a result the working group hopes to share these with the HPC later in the year. Mimi also reported on the Replacement Materials Symposium (hosted by the Maryland Association of Historic District Commissions) that she and Pat attended on Saturday, June 10. There was a talk by Phil Thomason, a preservation planner and consultant, whose expertise is the development of design guidelines. He recently conducted a state-wide survey about what various historic districts allow in terms of replacement materials (vinyl, fiberglass, plastic, trex, etc.). The conclusion was that there was little consensus among the districts. Mimi reported that this was her major take-away from the symposium. Pat has contacted Thomason who will provide a copy of his survey results. Another talk was presented by Eric Holcomb, executive director, Baltimore City Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation. He reported on how the Commission applies preservation standards within economically challenged communities. Mimi has distributed a link for HPC members to consult regarding accoya wood, a replacement material endorsed by the Historic Trust on Historic Preservation. Some of the literature gathered from the symposium should be helpful during review sessions.
Wendy Harris and Mimi Styles reported that Pat Patula will contribute pieces to the next two Town Bulletinsparts one and two of “Opening Day Among the Methodist Tenters in Maryland.”
Planning Council Report:
None for this month.
Town Council Report:
John Compton reported on the ongoing dog park issue. Mayor Joli McCathran formally accepted the most recent dog park petition, consisting of approximately 40 signatures. In doing so, a formal process was triggered in which the Town Council must act upon the petition at their next meeting by voting yes or no with moving ahead with the dog park’s creation. If the council votes no, the petitioners can request a town meeting allowing town residents to vote on the issue. If the council votes yes, then it is likely that a committee will be created to draft a document proposing possible locations for the dog park as well as more information on how the dog park will operate.
Wendy Harris presented some suggestions including preparing written reports on Town and Planning Commission meetings and circulating these among HPC members prior to HPC meetings. She also suggested making an effort to limit discussion of Town and Planning Commission meetings to issues pertaining to the HPC. Another suggestion was to have more working groups like the Design Guidelines Working Group, who do their work offsite and then make reports of their progress during monthly HPC meetings.
Minutes prepared and submitted by: Wendy Harris