14 August 2017 | Approved: 11 September 2017
Mayor Joli McCathran called the meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Council Members John Compton, Audrey Maskery, Greg Silber and Shelley Winkler. Pat Klein attended by phone. Also in attendance were Treasurer Mary Challstrom, Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) Chair Bob Booher, HPC member Gail Littlefield, Emergency Preparedness Committee Chair Sat Amagai, Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts, Woods Committee Co-Chair Joan Mahaffey, residents Meredith Beckhardt, Charlie Challstrom, Birgit Henninger and property owner Dennis Kane.
Approval of Agenda:
Greg Silber moved to approve the agenda. Shelley Winkler seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, approved.
There were no public appearances.
Approval of Minutes:
Audrey Maskery made a motion to approve the minutes of the Town Council meeting of July 10, 2017. John Compton seconded the motion. Vote: 4-0, approved, as amended. Shelley Winkler abstained for the vote due to her absence on 10 July 2017.
Treasurers Report 2017-July pdf
Shelley Winkler moved to accept the Treasurer’s Report for July 2017. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, accepted.
John Compton moved to transfer $10K from savings to checking to pay bills. Shelley Winkler seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0.
Signage: Emergency Preparedness Letter:
Sat Amagai summarized the Emergency Preparedness Committee (EPC) letter sent to the Town Council saying the most important requirement for our street signs is reflective lettering visibility both day and night. The Committee saw no significant difference between the composite wooden signs with reflecting lettering and metal signs with reflective lettering. Bob Booher spoke about the historic character of the current wooden street signs and what a rare occurrence they are in Maryland. There was a discussion about the following:
- The challenges of our Town’s layout
- Inadequate house numbers
- Signs on houses needing to include numbering and the street/avenue name
- Over-all safety initiative
- Reflectivity and legibility of signage
- Adhesive quality of reflective material
- Cost – $45.00 each for metal signs; $132.00 for composite signs
- Specialty signs for the areas north of Center St.
- Round red eye-catching reflectors to assist in locating homes
- Staggering the replacement of signs
- Volunteer labor
- Insect damage to wood signs and use of Boracare to help preserve composite signs
- Fiduciary responsibility
- Square vs. rounded edges for the metal signs
Kathy Lehman stated no one has addressed saving Jim Fletcher’s artwork and would like to see that happen.
Mayor McCathran asked Gail Littlefield to get a cost estimate for Medium Density Overlay composite boarding of clear pine and try to include the work hours of volunteers.
The Council suggested there be a trial period using both metal and wooden signs at the intersection of Grove Road and Brown Street. This item will be on the agenda for September.
Tennis Court Repair Bid Opening:
Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts gave a verbal evaluation of the two (2) bids from 1) American Tennis Courts, Inc (ATC) and 2) Mid-Atlantic Tennis Courts, Inc. (MATC). There was a discussion about the following:
- $5K difference between the two (2) bids
- Crack filling; MATC charges by the linear foot, (ATC) included it in their bid
- ATC’s own patching system and guarantee
- Better Business Bureau check; ATC – A+, MATC – D+
- Resetting net posts
- References (Mayor McCathran will make these calls)
- Repair process
- Cushioned courts and court ball speed
Greg Silber moved to accept the bid from American Tennis Courts, Inc.in the amount of $12,160.00 with the possible add-on of $2,865.00 to reset net posts, if necessary. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, accepted. The longevity of the repair and price certainty were the reasons for selecting the higher bid. The acceptance will remain open until Mayor McCathran contacts references.
Website Content Migration Proposal:
Shelley Winkler reported there are almost 900 documents to be migrated from the old Town web site to the new Town website. Bill Saar has given the Town his proposal in the amount of $2,000.00. Shelley Winkler moved to accept Bill Saar’s Website Content Migration Proposal bid. John Compton seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, accepted. There was a brief discussion about the inadequacies of the current search function. Shelley will ask Bill what can be done to improve this function.
Resolution 2017-04; Regarding Establishing a Public Dog Park Facility on Town Property – Effective date 10 July 2017. There was a discussion about the process used for selecting the seven (7) members of the Dog Park Work Group.
Recording Council Meetings:
The Town Clerk requested the Mayor and Council to consider recording Council meetings and other Town meetings. Kathy suggested a recording may be a helpful tool to prepare the draft minutes with fewer items to correct for final approval. The Mayor pointed out that any recording must be destroyed immediately after the completion of the draft minutes. The minutes are expected to be completed by the first Friday after the Council meeting. Any recording must be destroyed by that time. Mayor McCathran stated she spoke with the Town attorney who said if a recording is official, there can be no written minutes and a narrator must be present to narrate actions. However, if the recording would not be considered official than only the minute-taker would be permitted to listen to them. Concerns were raised about possible abuse of recording and additional time necessary for a recorder to create written records via tapes. There was a discussion, which ended in no decision.
John Compton moved to approve and post the Council Reports. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, as amended.
Update on Letters Sent to Non-Residents on Brucar and Cambourne Courts – Mayor McCathran reported Mr. O’Brien received an estimate for the removal of the basketball court and fence on Town land but requested more time for compliance due to health related circumstances. The Mayor granted his request.
2009 Master Plan Update – Mayor McCathran reported she, Planning Commission Chair Peter Nagrod and Charlie Challstrom had their first meeting to outline what is necessary to begin to update the 2009 Master Plan. The September Town Bulletin will announce the update and ask for volunteers and ideas from residents. Focus groups will meet after interest has been assessed. All items in the 2009 Master Plan should be reviewed but it may not be necessary to update all sections of the 2009 Master Plan. Some items do not need to be addressed for the 2019 Master Plan.
Open Meetings Act Training (OMA): Mayor McCathran reported five (5) people have signed up to attend an Open Meeting Act training offered by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office in Gaithersburg. The date is September 12. Those signed up are Mayor Joli McCathran, Town Clerk, Kathy Lehman, Georgette Cole, Joan Mahaffey, and Shelley Winkler. Mayor McCathran announced the requirement is for any Town body to have a closed meeting, a trained person in the OMA must be present. This will allow for the opportunity of 1 of the 5 individuals to be present during closed sessions.
Private Swim Lessons: Mayor McCathran reported a Town resident was offering private swim lessons at Maple Lake via the Town (unofficial) list serve. Joli talked to the resident about the prohibition against resident earning money using Town amenities.
Vehicular Parking: Mayor McCathran received complaints about the number of cars often seen parked at the corner of Hickory Road and Oak Street and often parking in the fire lane. It was determined to address with the Planning Commission.
Lake Fence – Mayor McCathran asked Pat Klein about the status of re-installing the barbed wire on top of the lake fence. Audrey Maskery reported Steve Werts suggested the work be contracted out to a professional fencing company. Steve will seek out contractors.
IPC Contract Amendment – There was some confusion about the amendment to this contract. Greg Silber will look into this and get clarity.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 10:05 p.m.
John Compton moved to close the meeting to the public to discuss personnel matters. Audrey seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0.
The Mayor and Council went into closed session at 10:10 p.m.
TC REPORTS – September 2017
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION – Audrey Maskery
MAINTENANCE – Audrey Maskery
Ballfield and surrounding area grass cut; Tennis Court cleaned and rolled in preparation for Labor Day games.
Ditches cleaned, and grass cut on all Avenues.
Tree that had fell in Lake area removed; damaged fencing repaired, and barb wire re-strung.
Consultation with WSSC concerning a ‘sink hole that appeared behind the Church property’. WSSC is still uncertain of the exact cause of the sink hole; work will be taking place on the sewer line/water line in the area.
The tree watering program has continued throughout summer except during the heavy rain fall.
MEMORIALS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report
INTERGOVERNMENTAL – Joli A. McCathran
In August Council Member Audrey Maskery and I met with a representative from Pepco, Tony Ruffin, to discuss street lighting for immediate and future needs. The Town’s current light fixtures are becoming obsolete and repair parts are slim to none. We discussed the funds the Town invested in converting from the old incandescent bulbs to new more efficient ones. Over the next 3-5 years will need to make decisions and make significant changes in our street lighting. Consideration should be made the historic nature of the Town, the feelings of the citizens on light – how bright – how high the pole – what type of pole etc. With new technology in the future the Town will be in compliance with ‘Green Earth.” As of now we are not sure of what may be available and the costs are not clear. Pepco will continue to work with the Town.
The September meeting of the Montgomery County Chapter of the Maryland Municipal League is September 28 at the Benjamin Gaither Center, 80 A Bureau Drive, Gaithersburg, MD 20878. The main topic of discussion is: Age-Friendly Montgomery County. Dinner will be available at 6:30 p.m. The Chapter will also be confirming the Legislative Priorities during this meeting. Tentatively the priorities include, but not limited to, Highway User Funds and Tax Duplication.
Washington Grove is hosting a meeting of the Montgomery County Chapter of the Maryland Municipal League on November 9, 2017 at McCathran Hall. All Town officials are invited to attend. Please mark your calendars.
PLANNING COMMISSION – John McClelland
- 315 Grove Ave – Fence/edging approved
- 334 Ridge Rd – Fence approved contingent upon locating two rear boundary markers (which were part of the year 2000 subdivision
- 201 Grove Ave – Shed approved
- 409 6th Ave – Demo of shed portion approved
- 1 The Circle will provide a permit for a planned partial fence replacement (wood picket vs the current chain link).
Easement: 15 The Circle submitted initial paperwork to initiate the permanent easement process (portion of front porch).
PC Annual Report to MD: Approved and sent to TC for final approval before being sent to MD
Cator Property Development: Although the subdivision plat has been signed by the PC chairman, the reforestation bond remains outstanding. The plat will be released to the owner/developer (and to the deed of records) once the bond is received. The realtor will also be contacted reinforcing the subdivision requirements before the property is marketed and eventually sold.
Master Plan Update: Input is being sought from various commissions, committees, groups etc. so a comprehensive document can be achieved
House Files: 134 completed
Avenue Use: 407 5th Ave owners installed a gravel parking pad near the property line with 17 the Circle just off of 6th Ave. The owner of 17 The Circle access his property via 6th Ave and the avenue’s Walkway Only sign does not appear until one approached the circle. The PC chair agreed to meet with the 407 5th Ave property owners and examine alternative parking options. Other on going, ordinance violating vehicular use of the avenues (Pine and Cherry) along with the Town’s desire to assist land locked dwellings with special allowances (Locust Ln extended and 2nd Ave) were examined.
- 304 Chestnut Ave will be inspected for adherence to the Town’s ordinance pertaining to the residential, one family zoning – specifically Article VII Sections 2.22, 4.2 (definition of “Dwelling/Dwelling Unit”, “Family”, “Household” and “Main Building”), 7.1 (residential zoning protection and maintenance) and 7.2e (Parking/storing of 4 vehicles max).
- 103 Brown St and 201 Washington Grove Lane were also included in the above discussion.
- A rental permitting/licensing process will be developed to encourage ordinance compliance and increase Town tax revenue by including all of its residents
Private Property located on Town/Public land: Fences, trash can containers, firewood, oak flower barrels, rocks etc located on Town property was discussed without reaching a consensus on appropriate action.
General Revisions: Ordinance clarification regarding fences (repair vs. replace, vehicular safety, aesthetics etc), carport/detached structure setbacks (5’ vs. 10‘), property/room rental licensing/registration are all currently under review for potential revision.
MCCATHRAN HALL – John McClelland
Still standing, nothing to report.
WOODS COMMITTEE – Greg Silber
The Committee moved its September meeting to Tuesday 5 September because its regularly scheduled Monday meeting would fall on the Labor Day Holiday. Ongoing Committee work consists of furthering plans for enhancing the health of the East and West Woods, deer population control options, developing a long-range and strategic planning document, and making contributions to revising of the Town’s Master Plan. Plans are also underway to acquire a number of small-caliber trees from various sources for planting primarily along the northern edge of the West Woods.
Invasive Plant Control, Inc. (IPC) has completed its first season of invasive plant treatments in the East Woods with the last summer/fall treatments occurring on 7 and 9 August. The Committee plans to work with IPC this fall (with walkthroughs likely taking place in November) to assess the effectiveness of treatments to date and to make plans for timing of spring treatment. Preliminary assessments indicate the amount of wisteria, stilt grass and other species has been very much reduced. At the Mayor’s request, the Committee has also sought cost estimates from IPC for treatment of non-native invasive plants in the West Woods. The Committee seeks to control several invasive species before they are able to dominate plant life in the West Woods. In addition to some non-native invasives found in both Woods, a recently identified invasive plant species is taking hold along West Woods walkways.
The next Committee meeting will be Monday 2 October, 7:30.
CONTRACTS – Greg Silber
The Town has entered into a contract with American Tennis Courts, Inc. for the repair and re-surfacing of asphalt tennis courts for the amount $12,160 (with an additional $2,865 to reset net posts, if needed.) The Town has also entered into a contract with DsnBld Consulting (i.e., Bill Saar’s company) to assist in the migrating of archived Town documents to the new Town website. For a total of $2,000, transferring these documents will begin 1 September 2017 with completion by 1 March 2018.
Contractor Invasive Plant Control, Inc. (IPC) has completed initial rounds of treatments for non-native invasive plants in the East Woods. Invoices for “Year One” of the contract have been paid or are now being processed. Based on its re-evaluation of the amount of invasive plants and associated work needed to treat them, IPC has submitted to the Town a revised cost estimate for Year One work and for multi-year contracted treatments. In short, the revised costs will be less this year than the contracted amount and are also projected to be lower than originally bid in subsequent years.
In the coming weeks, the Council should plan to discuss renewal of its annual leaf-collection and “as needed” back-up snow-removal contracts.
RECREATION – Shelley Winkler
The unusual rainout caused Labor Day events to be postponed from Saturday to Sunday. The Triathlon was to be postponed, but in the end was cancelled due to low sign-ups. Croquet drew a great crowd for a nice weekend finish. Thanks to Craig English and Joli McCathran for their great job, and working with the rainy weather.
Bluestober Fest will be held October 14, organized by Eric Selby and Lawren Lankford. Volunteers are needed and welcome.
WEBSITE – Shelley Winkler
Re-organizing the website architecture progresses. Soon we will be able to start reviewing page content. The overall goal is to allow users to obtain information easily.
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Shelley Winkler
The walkway behind 302 Chestnut Ave. has a depression, which seems to be settling and getting deeper over many years. There is a sewer and a manhole in that area. Joli McCathran and Steve Werts met with WSSC. WSSC is sending out a camera crew to determine whether or not there is a breach in that sewer line. They will also check their records to see if there had been a breach in that line. Once that information is received, we will know whether it is a WSSC issue and can determine next steps.
Water has been pooling near Center Street, next to 301 First Avenue. Steve Werts would like to install a pipe alongside the roadway there, sending the water toward Grove Avenue. There is already a drain under Grove Avenue by Center Street. This would allow the water to enter the existing drain under Grove Road, and keep it from pooling by Center Street. The work involves digging a narrow trench about 18 inches deep, installing a perforated pipe, covering the trench and laying gravel alongside the road. The neighboring homeowner is aware of the problem, and is happy with the proposed solution.
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – John Compton
The HPC held their regular monthly meeting August 15, 2017.
I was unable to be present, but the following matters were discussed:
Expansion of our National Register nomination. Further discussion addressed the draft of the Scope Document for issuing the RFP for an expert Consultant to prepare the submission. Refinements have been made with the aim of completing the task by the next HPC meeting in October.
Street Signs: Bob Booher and Gail Littlefield reported on the meeting held with the Battalion Fire Chief and the discussions of his the priorities among recommended improved signage and visible house numbers in town in the context of the historic character of our present wooden street signs.
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – John Compton
Non-native plant removal and invasives spraying: As we know, the Town agreed with County plans to address the invasive population of plants in the meadow, and their policy of restoring native plant growth by eliminating the major invasives presence. Last month Georgette Cole provided me with her assessment of the mile-a-minute status (MAM), specific locations of MAM concentrations, and that Parks should perform the annual spraying they use to control MAM within the following weeks if their assessment agreed with hers. Last week targeted spraying was performed with the meadow and areas clearly marked.
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – John Compton
Nothing to report.
PLAYGROUNDS – John Compton
The budget this year provides for installation of a large new playground item (~$23,000): the Regulus, from KOMPAN. Negotiation for a final price is ongoing. The installation will be handled by Maintenance.
(A link to view this climbing structure is here:
MAPLE LAKE – Patrice Klein
Life Guards coverage was minimal from August 23 to Labor Day with no guards on duty the week of August 28th. The diving board was removed on August 23rd.
Lake security has been enhanced with placement of ‘No Trespassing’ signs in English and Spanish posted on the entrance gate and around fence line. Planning for security after life guards leave Labor Day. Considering hiring security officers next spring, and using a Town volunteer ‘dog patrol’ during off-season.
The last pond/algal treatment occurred on August 17 and reported that no pond-weed or algae were present. Similarly, water quality testing conducted on August 28th reported as within acceptable limits.
Maintenance to be completed includes contracting to repair and replace barbed wire along the top of the fence, repairing the video camera in the kiosk, and adding an overhead light with switch to the new shed for the life guards.
The next Lake Committee meeting will be on September 21, 2017.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS & SAFETY – Patrice Klein
The EPC, HPC, and the Mayor met on August 12th with the Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Services (MCFRS) Assistant Fire Chief Van Gieson to discuss ways to improve emergency response in the Town. Issues included wayfinding and vehicle access in the Town, changes in mapping and emergency communication, house address signs, emergency personnel familiarization with the Town layout, readable/reflective street name signs, and options for marking fire hydrants. Chief Van Gieson stated that street sign visibility, reflectivity, and placement were most critical for emergency response; and sign media (e.g. metal vs wood) is not a primary issue. Following this meeting, Charlie Challstrom prepared and sent to Chief Van Gieson a spreadsheet of access information for each individual home intended to enhance the County’s computer system used to dispatch police, fire, and ambulance vehicles.
Several EPC members subsequently conducted a night audit of Town street sign visibility condition, readability, and visibility. Also noted were potential sign relocations to improve illumination by street lights and proximity to intersections. Instances were identified where simple trimming of vegetation is needed to improve sign visibility.
At the August 24th EPC monthly meeting, the Committee agreed to recommend to the Town Council that fire hydrants should be marked and discussed several options including use of top-mounted or side-mounted brackets to attach reflective marker poles, and use of prismatic reflective tape.
The status of purchase of a Town Hall generator was discussed and it was agreed to follow up with other Town officials to ensure clarity of the proposed use. The June 2016 recommendation from the Emergency Preparedness Task Force provides clarification:
“Purchase an emergency generator for the Town Hall for operating electricity, heat, and other necessary functions during a prolonged electrical outage. Develop a plan for using the Town Hall as an emergency relief and coordination center. This is intended for day-time use only, and not as an overnight shelter.”
September is National Preparedness Month and the Committee sent a request to the Town Clerk to include this notice in the September Town Bulletin to help alert Town residents to upcoming events being coordinated by the Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.
The EPC will be preparing input to the Master Plan Revision using the Final Report of the Emergency Preparedness Task Force (June 2016) as a template.
The EPC recommends the TC consider the following action items to allow for emergency vehicle access: (1) repair of the Center Street culvert, (2) unlocking or shortening the Brown Street gate, and (3) marking fire hydrants.
The next meeting will be on September 28, 2017.