8 August 2016 | Approved: 12 September 2016
Mayor Joli McCathran called the meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Council Members Georgette Cole, Audrey Maskery, John McClelland, Greg Silber and Shelley Winkler. Also present were Treasurer Mary Challstrom, residents Charlie Challstrom, Mark Fredericksen, Meredith Horan, Joan Mahaffey, Bruce Rothrock, Kitty Seiferlein, Steve Werts and property owner Dennis Kane.
Closed Meeting Statement:
Mayor McCathran read the following closed meeting statement:
The 11 July 2016 meeting of the Town Council in the Council Room in McCathran Hall went to a closed session at 9:40 PM. The meeting was closed under General Provisions Article 3-305(b), (1) to discuss the appointment, employment, assignment, promotion, discipline, demotion, compensation, removal, resignation, or performance evaluation of appointees, employees, or officials over whom this public body has jurisdiction or any other personnel matter that affects one (1) or more specific individuals. Georgette Cole, Patrice Klein, Audrey Maskery, John McClelland, Greg Silber and Shelley Winkler voted to close the meeting. The Mayor and Town Council attended the closed session. This was a discussion about employees. No action was taken. There was no recorded vote.
Approval of Agenda:
Georgette Cole moved to approve the agenda. Shelley Winkler seconded the motion. Mayor McCathran added maintenance equipment purchase (#8) and Saybrooke (#7. a) to the agenda. Vote: 5-0, as amended.
There were none.
Approval of Minutes:
Georgette Cole moved to approve the minutes of the Town Council meeting on July 11, 2016 and post them to the website. John McClelland seconded the motion. Refinements were made to the minutes. Vote: 5-0, as amended.
Treasurers Report 2016-July pdf
Georgette Cole moved to accept the FY16 year-end Treasurer’s Report. Greg Silber seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0.
Shelley Winkler moved to accept the Treasurer’s Report for July 2016. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Treasurer Mary Challstrom answered questions about real property and income taxes.
John McClelland moved to transfer $10,000 from savings to checking to pay bills. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0.
Draft Request for Proposal RFP Boundary Survey:
Mayor McCathran reported the Planning Commission made the recommendation that the Council accept this RFP at its August 3, 2016 meeting. Charlie Challstrom distributed copies and explained one objective of the survey is to remove the plats in the East Woods making it all one parcel. Some adjustments involving the placement of orange poles were made to the request for proposal. Specifically, no orange poles will be placed behind private homes in Town. Shelley Winkler asked for a legal review of standard language the Town uses in nearly all its RFP’s suggesting these should be updated. Mayor McCathran said she would send the basic language to our Town attorney for review.
In principle and concept the Council will move forward with this RFP pending another review of proposed adjustments during the next 30 days. The RFP will be distributed in September and vendors will have 60 days to reply. Sealed bids will be opened at the November meeting.
John McClelland moved to accept the RFP for Re-Subdivision and Marking Boundary of the East Woods including anticipated review and minor revision. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0.
West Woods Boundary/Saybrooke:
Charlie Challstrom reported most of the original green markers with silver tops are still in place along the West Woods/Saybrooke boundary. Markers are missing at the homes where the encroachments to the Town woods occur. The Mayor will send letters to the two (2) homes where the violations occur stating the Town will be surveying the area and placing markers on the property line. Inappropriate use of Town land will be noted and property owners will be given a certain date by which structures and any other items must be removed.
Maintenance Equipment Purchase:
The Council considered purchase of a skidloader with low hours and currently priced at $25,000. Uses for this equipment include; snow removal, woods work, playground work, etc. There was discussion about this purchase exceeding $5,000, but Town’s acquisition of the Town truck was without the competitive bid process due to unique circumstances related to purchasing previously owned equipment. Mayor McCathran will ask the Town attorney to review the Town Charter language (Section 57) governing purchasing and contracts.
John McClelland moved to authorize Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts to purchase a used, well-maintained skid loader with low hours. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. Vote: 4-0, Shelley Winkler abstained.
Georgette Cole moved to transfer $25,000 from savings to checking to cover the purchase of a skid loader. John McClelland seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0.
Policy for Time Constraints During Public Appearances:
Mayor McCathran reported she spoke with the Town attorney about this subject. Time constraints can be put in place but they must be the same for all meetings including meetings of the Town’s Commissions. A five (5) minute limit was suggested. It was noted that answering questions presented by the Mayor or Council members would not count against the five (5) minute limit. Implementation and notification were discussed as well. Mayor McCathran said she would provide a write up for the Town Bulletin.
Emergency Preparedness Report:
Chairman Mark Fredericksen once again summarized the Task Force’s findings and addressed the Council’s questions about Town infrastructure use, Town communication system and the implementation of a new committee to put the Emergency
Preparedness Plan into effect. Mayor McCathran will write an announcement for the next Town Bulletin. She thanked Mark and the Committee for their thorough, hard work. Georgette Cole remarked the GROVE ALERT addresses could be put on another computer so others might issue an alert remotely if necessary. Steve Werts asked if the new committee would work on the proper placement of house numbers and street names in order to help firefighters and police officers find homes more quickly. It was suggested there be another Bulletin announcement about the importance of visibly identifying houses for emergency purposes.
Shelley Winkler reported Christine Dibble and Mimi Bolotin have volunteered to work on accessibility and content monitoring of the Town website. The new website needs more monitoring than originally thought. The goal is to get it more up-to-date and working to meet user’s needs. Bill Saar will continue to post agendas, minutes, reports as he has been doing. Liaisons were asked to remind their Commissions/Committees Bill Saar prefers Word documents sent to him for posting.
Greg Silber moved to approve the Council Reports for posting on the web. Shelley Winkler seconded the motion. The Council discussed:
- Receipt of new release of liability forms from the Town attorney
- Opinion of the Planning Commission that a dog park on Town land was in keeping with the Town Master Plan.
- The drainage reconfiguration project near 405 Chestnut Avenue
- Definition of a non-contributing structure
Vote: 5-0, as amended.
Block 11: With the completion of the brick walkway in Block 11, Mayor McCathran has drafted a letter to the resident at #8 The Circle about the removal of her items from Town property. The resident will have 60 days from the date of the letter to comply. The Town attorney is reviewing the letter.
Cator Property: The sub-division plat was received on August 5, 2016. However, the Town has not yet received the Forest Conservation Plan. Both need to be approved by the Planning Commission. Mayor McCathran will write letters to the property owners, real estate agent and the surveyor concerning the required approvals. Town approval must happen before the lots can go on the market.
Speeding – Red Corolla: Mayor McCathran reported the vehicle consistently speeding through Town for the past three (3) weeks or so, was finally apprehended by the Montgomery County Police at 6:00 p.m. today. The police called the Mayor once the driver was apprehended.
Maryland Open Meetings Act Change: The Mayor reported a change to this law. Agendas must be posted at least 24 hours before any meeting. She will inform those who may be affected by this change.
Church Group at 109 Washington Grove Lane: Aaron Pollard attended the August 3rd meeting of the Planning Commission to inquire if a church would be a permitted use of a space in the Commercial Corner. He was told a Zoning Text Amendment would be necessary to allow for this as a special exception. The Commission thought this was a reasonable way to handle the request. The Mayor wrote an e-mail to the real estate agent who was acting as property owner John Bell’s representative. There has been no further communication.
Greg Silber asked about the previous invitation for Vacant Properties Task Force Chair David Stopak to give an update to the Council concerning their progress. Mayor McCathran talked to David and he indicated the meetings are open to all who wish to attend. When asked about the addition of occupied homes to their charge, David reported, via the Mayor, there were those on the Task Force who felt the Mayor’s charge could not be completed without addressing occupied homes as well. The Committee will submit a report to the Council soon.
The Clerk asked about any action on a forwarded e-mail from Linda Buel (405 Chestnut Ave.) concerning another daily, speeding vehicle. The Mayor and Council said to thank her for getting part of the tag number and ask to try to get the full number so it may be reported to the police.
Mayor McCathran brought up an idea from the Clerk concerning the devastation caused by severe flooding in Ellicott City in Howard County. The Clerk asked if the Town could make a monetary donation to help. Several Council members were uncomfortable with setting a precedent by sending Town funds to the city. Shelley Winkler suggested town residents could be made aware of the donation opportunities in other ways.
There being no further new business, the meeting adjourned at 9:52 p.m.
Audrey Maskery moved, Shelley Winkler seconded the meeting be closed to the public in order to discuss personnel matters. Vote: 5-0.
The Mayor and Council went into closed session at 9:55 p.m.
TC REPORTS – September 2016
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – Georgette Cole
Review Session: The Commission reviewed the plat/vicinity map of the Cator property development. The property owner is moving forward with recording the plat of subdivision with Montgomery County. The owner now intends to put the individual lots up for sale rather than sell the whole to a developer. There are several issues and concerns that need to be addressed to ensure compliance with the conditions of the annexation agreement between the Town of Washington Grove and the property owner. Bob will draft a report on these concerns and circulate to Commission members for their input. Once the report has been edited, it will then be submitted to the Planning Commission for their review and comment.
Vacant Properties: David reported that the work group plans to have a report ready to present to the Town Council meeting in October. All the information has been gathered and the committee is in the process of preparing a written report.
Clare Kelly Presentation: Notification will appear in the September and October Town bulletins as a reminder to residents to mark their calendars for Friday, October 21st. The final details for the presentation will be worked out at the next meeting.
PLAYGROUNDS – Georgette Cole
Maintenance has purchased a used Bobcat brand skid loader which will be very useful for drainage and installation of the new playground equipment.
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – Georgette Cole
Nothing to report.
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – Georgette Cole
Nothing to report
MAPLE LAKE – Patrice Klein
The Lake Committee did not meet in August but will have the last meeting for the season on Thursday, Sept. 15th at 7:30 PM.
The final water quality testing was conducted by Water Testing Labs of Maryland. Results were acceptable as clean water.
Life Guards were present on Sunday only over the Labor Day Week-end, and the Triathlon swim/tubing event went well.
Hutch and Steve are discussing draining the lake in October to find the “ledge” that a Town resident hit his head on last month.
SAFETY/EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS– Patrice Klein
Patty has reached out to Mark Fredrickson to discuss plans for formation of this new Committee. Response pending. The Mayor posted a notice in the September Town Bulletin for residents to contact her if interested in participating in the new Committee.
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION – Audrey Maskery
F&B committee met 25th August, plans for planting of trees during late October early November, plus possible locations for the new trees discussed.
Carolyn O’Connor reviewed the status of the Adopt-a-tree project.
The next phase of the ‘roll through’ tree pruning will be starting during the month of September.
MAINTENANCE – Audrey Maskery
Installed new electric line from the gazebo to the Maintenance shed, the line was placed in a conduit for easy future maintenance should the need arise.
SITP equipment moved to maintenance warehouse for storage.
Large tree that fell in Circle cut up and removed; fallen tree limbs cut up and removed from Maple Avenue and Wade Park.
Grass trimmed throughout town, new trees watered each week. Cut grass over sediment pond and cleaned sand filter. Flower beds weeded in front of Town Hall.
Purchased a skid loader for use on town projects i.e. drainage ditching; snow removal; preparation of ground for new playground equipment.
MEMORIALS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report.
PLANNING COMMISSION – John McClelland
Building Permit Applications – There were none.
Permanent Easement Request – 409 5th Ave – Resubmitted documents required for permanent easement. The PC passed the information on to the HPC. Once the HPC’s report is finalized the TC can approve/process the permanent easement.
Commercial Corner – A proposed change to Article VII Section 8.21 “Special Exception” – to allow religious and educational types of establishments under the special exceptions provisions was filed by the PC and sent to the TC for processing.
Subdivision of 17050 Railroad St (Cator Property) – The forest conservation and final subdivision plans were submitted by the current property owner. The PC will review and summarize potential issues and then forward to the Town’s attorney. Conditions associated with the original annexation into the Town as well as conditions associated with the subdivision plans must be clearly defined before the final approval can be granted. Due to the possibility of selling individual lots (as opposed to one developer for the entire site) additional issues of responsibility for the common driveway, trees in the forest conservation areas, bonds, graveled walkway(s) etc. need to be established. The realtor (Cathy Higdon/Kershaw was advised that the lots cannot be advertised/marketed for sale before the plat is approved.
Block Corner Surveys
East Woods – The RFP (bid process) for the east woods survey (and “de-platting”) has not been initiated as the Town attorney’s review has yet to be completed.
West Woods – Town survey markers will be installed along the boundary of the Saybrooke, Gaithersburg neighborhood. A notification letter was sent to a few of the adjoining property owners, some of which are encroaching on Town land. Orange boundary posts (similar to ones placed along Kelly Field) will also be installed.
Block 11 – The encroaching stairs of 8 The Circle have been removed/cut off.
House Files – Seventy (70) properties have been completed.
MCCATHRAN HALL – John McClelland
Repairs – Steve Werts replaced the kitchen disposal.
Defibrillators – Pat Klein is investigating the various manufacturers and models to make sure the ones that were previously chosen were a best fit for the Town’s needs. Once established the defibrillators will be purchased.
WOODS COMMITTEE – Greg Silber
The surveying and marking of the westernmost boundary of the West Woods has been completed. In coordination with the Planning Commission, the Woods Committee plans to issue a request for proposals to survey and mark the eastern boundary of the East Woods and associated areas.
A request for proposals is also being developed for the large-scale removal and control of invasive plant species in both West and East Woods. Areas of non-native species in the East Woods are being mapped and flagged for this purpose. In addition, tree planting will continue with an emphasis on fall and winter planting.
The Committee asked that the Mayor send a Grove Alert informing residents about these East Woods flagged areas and about a pile of brush (about 100 feet in length) along a portion of the eastern boundary of the East Woods.
The Committee’s next meeting will be Monday 3 October, 7:30.
CONTRACTS – Greg Silber
Joli McCathran and Greg Silber met with a representative from Potomac Disposal to address concerns expressed recently by residents about the mixing of recyclable items with the trash. We published a note in the Bulletin explaining the regulations and business for this contract. Bulk trash pick-up has been scheduled for Saturday 22 October.
RECREATION – Shelley Winkler
Recreation will sponsor a photo booth for those in costume on October 31 (there will be no pumpkin carving this year). Yoga classes have returned this week and the children’s dance class will resume in October. Bluestoberfest will be held on October 15. Thanks to Emily Cavey and Jenn Hix, who have offered to serve as the adult volunteers for Summer In The Parks 2017. Many thanks again to adult volunteers Emily Brown, Alison Faupel and Joey Fones, for a great SITP 2016.
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Shelley Winkler
Given the budget, and the stable road conditions, we are not now looking at any work before early spring. Steve has started the process for obtaining details of roadwork which may be needed. We will investigate expanding our list of potential contractors.
WEBSITE – Shelley Winkler
Thanks to Marida Hines who just finished, on a volunteer basis, backing up and updating the Town website. We have a few additional folks who have volunteered to help do this in the future, and we need to determine who would be most comfortable with the technology. There may be some training needs involved, and the possible acquisition of software to do it properly.
Bill Saar has added links on the new website to Historic Planning Commission reviews and house histories from the old website, so they are now accessible. We are hoping to get the new website more streamlined and current, a system for keeping it that way, and then migrate older information. Bill is also correcting any items on the website as needed.
INTERGOVERNMENTAL – Joli A. McCathran
Nothing to report.