8 February 2016 | Approved: 14 March 2016
Mayor Joli McCathran called the meeting of the Town Council to order at 6:00 p.m. In attendance were Council Members Georgette Cole, Alison Faupel, Audrey Maskery, Greg Silber and Bud O’Connor. Also present were Treasurer Mary Challstrom, Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts and residents Charlie Challstrom, and Pat Kline. Town Attorney Suellen Ferguson was also in attendance. John McClelland arrived at 7:35 p.m.
Comcast Non-Exclusive Franchise Agreement:
Town Attorney Suellen Ferguson explained the complicated process and the history of the agreement between Comcast and municipalities. She stated, in her opinion, the agreement as presented is a very good deal. She then walked the Mayor and Town Council through the Memo of Understanding with Montgomery County. In addition, Suellen defined PEG money including the origin and destination of the funds. She explained many of the small municipalities give their PEG money to Montgomery Municipal Cable (MMC) and are now questioning how it was being used. There was a discussion about the following:
- Free drops
- Ordinance requirements
- When to adopt of the ordinance
- Changes to the agreement
- Options A & B
- Using MMC to help with wiring the Council Chambers in order to broadcast meetings
- Legal expenses
Suellen recommended the Mayor and Council hold the public hearing on the Comcast agreement as planned but wait for 30 days before adoption to allow to allow the financial agreement between the municipalities and Comcast to be finalized first. The agreement has many advantages for the Town and meets technical requirements. She recommended Option B.
Because the Town attorney was present, Mayor McCathran asked a question about insurance reimbursement for damage by a contractor and a bond issued for the restoration of 2nd Avenue. Suellen pointed out the bond expired on November 15, 2015 and any recuperation of funds would have to be for damage that occurred before that date. Insurance companies will often simply extend the bond. She suggested the Town send a letter to the insurance company asking for reimbursement for the repair of 2nd Avenue.
Approval of Agenda:
The agenda was approved by general consensus.
Treasurers Report 2016-January pdf
Georgette Cole moved to accept the Treasurer’s Report for January 2016. Greg Silber seconded the motion. There was a discussion about who may use Town equipment and who is responsible for a contractor’s equipment when in is damaged during a Town use.
This was in the context of the recent blizzard and the use of supplemental labor for snow removal by Town Maintenance. Vote: 6-0
Georgette Cole moved to transfer $10,000 from the money market account to checking. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0.
Closed Meeting Statement:
Mayor McCathran read the following closed meeting statement:
The 11 January 2016 meeting of the Town Council in the Council Room in McCathran Hall went to a closed session at 9:25 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. Georgette Cole, Alison Faupel, Audrey Maskery, John McClelland and Bud O’Connor voted to close the meeting. The Mayor and Town Council (minus Greg Silber) attended the closed session. By general consensus the Town Council voted on FY 2017 employee salaries.
Public Hearing; Ordinance 2016-02 Granting a Non-Exclusive Cable Franchise Agreement to Comcast of Potomac, LLC:
Mayor McCathran called the hearing to order at 7:33 p.m. Bud O’Connor moved to discuss Ordinance 2016-02. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Audrey asked if removal of the excess wires could be addressed. The record will be open for 30 days.
There were no public appearances.
Approval of Minutes:
Georgette Cole moved to approve the minutes of the Town Council meeting on January 11, 2016. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0.
Woods Group RFP (Request For Proposal):
Greg Silber explained the Woods Group’s recent discussions about the recommendations in the Parkton Woodland Services Forest Stewardship Report. The report suggested the boundaries of the Town forest stands be marked in an official fashion. The Woods Group has proposed a survey and demarcation (markers every 75 feet) of the boundary between the Town and the City of Gaithersburg’s Kelley Park and Newport Estates. Greg presented the RFP for the project. The Council discussed the deadline for receipt of the RFP, adding other survey projects to the RFP, and the Town’s insurance requirements. They decided to change the deadline to April 11, 2016.
Greg Silber moved to accept the RFP for marking western boundary of the west woods. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0.
Mayor McCathran reported this will soon be given a bill number.
Resolution Consideration Re: Washington Grove’s Tolerance for Differing Religions and Ethnicities and Expressing Support for Refugees:
Mayor McCathran reviewed the process and asked for input from the Town Council. John McClelland moved to discuss this item. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. John McClelland expressed his concerns that the Resolution did not represent the entire Town. They discussed the following:
- Possible political motivation behind the resolution
- Resolution could be considered divisive
- Use of the word discrimination
Mayor McCathran called for a motion to introduce Resolution 2016-03. There was no motion. The resolution did not advance because it was not introduced.
Georgette Cole moved to approve the January 2016 Council Reports for posting on the Town website. John McClelland seconded the motion. Some administrative changes were made. There was a discussion about possible leaking fire hydrants in the Town woods. The Clerk offered to contact Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) to ask WSSC to inspect and, if needed, repair the hydrants and ask for assistance. Vote: 6-0.
Mayor McCathran reported she attended a recent Mayor’s Conference. It was a good conference. Highway User Revenues were discussed.
Newport Estates Trash: Mayor McCathran reported she contacted the City of Gaithersburg for assistance with the problem of dumping trash in the Town’s West Woods. Gaithersburg will contact the property manager. The Property Manager will notify residents of this prohibition.
Block 11: Mayor McCathran reported the Planning Commission recommended she write a letter to Maggie Range (#8 The Circle) with a deadline for removal of the steps currently on Town land. Planning Commission Chairman Peter Nagrod will also sign the letter.
McCauley Street and Washington Grove Lane: The Clerk reported having a conversation with a County Dept. of Transportation representative about making the illegal turns at this intersection more difficult to make. She presented a drawing showing a proposed curbing and posting system. The Council discussed the following:
- Installing a “No Thru Street” sign with the “No Left Turn” sign already in place
- Proposed curbing has to be too far back from the intersection to be effective
- Potential problems with the legal turns in the area
The Clerk offered to call Montgomery County DOT and ask for the installation of a “No Thru Street” sign. She will also call the Montgomery County Police Department to ask for enforcement at the intersection.
Recreation Committee: Bud O’Connor moved to approve the St. Patrick’s Day Festival on March 18th sponsored by the Rec Committee. John McClelland seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0.
Hearing Devices for McCathran Hall: Bud O’Connor asked to discuss the letter from Ed Roberts (6 The Circle) delivered this afternoon. Bud believes the hearing issue and the complaint about the way the Mayor and Council sit in a meeting can both be solved with a little money, effort, and will – and perhaps along with hearing assistance or voice amplification devices. He believes what Mr. Roberts is asking is not unreasonable. He asked how the Mayor and Council would like to address these issues. There was a discussion about a table configuration and available technology for hearing assistance.
There being no further new business, the meeting adjourned at 8:55 PM.
Bud O’Connor moved, John McClelland seconded the meeting be closed to the public in order to discuss personnel matters. Vote: 6-0.
The Mayor and Council went into closed session at 9:00 p.m.
TC REPORTS – March 2016
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – Georgette Cole
Archives: The Commission reviewed issues discussed at the recent TC/PC/HPC joint work session. Arrangements were made for Christian Skipper from the Maryland State Archives to be available via a teleconference call to provide assistance and answer questions regarding the Town’s records management plan. It was decided that the Mayor would appoint a working group (to consist of a member from each Commission, along with the Computer Consulting Team) to determine the responsibilities that will be required for this project. The HPC will make a recommendation to the Town Council to dedicate monies in the 2016-2017 proposed budget for this purpose. Gail Littlefield has volunteered to represent the HPC for this work group.
The Commission further reviewed the HPC section of the Records Retention and Disposal Schedule (itemized on page 5) to determine what materials should be included in their inventory. Item No. 8 (Description Historical Preservation Commission) will include a corresponding retention statement with its own number in the number column (for ease of citation in disposal certificates) to be itemized as follows:
B. Annual reports
C. Rules of procedure
E. Design guidelines (for homes)
F. Opinions and reports
G. HPC reviews
H. Outreach educational projects
J. Selected correspondence
It was also determined that all materials described in Item No. 8 be retained for five years and then transferred to State Archives for storage.
The Commission will continue their discussion on Item No. 9 (Washington Grove Camp Meeting Association Records) at the next HPC meeting in March.
Vacant Properties Work Group: David Stopak reported that the committee is in the process of categorizing a pre-registry of vacant homes. A report will be sent to the Town Council within the next several months for their review. There are still many questions on what kinds of penalties the Town can impose on homeowners who have vacant properties.
Montgomery County History Conference: At the recent conference in January, Clare Lise Kelly gave a presentation on Modern Architecture in Montgomery County in the mid-twentieth century. The Commission discussed the idea of having Clare give such a presentation (at the Town Hall) sometime in the spring, focusing on the properties and contributing structures in Washington Grove. Everyone agreed that this would be a great idea and also be of interest to Town residents. Bob will contact Clare to extend the invitation to her.
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – Georgette Cole
The Montgomery County Parks Department will be doing the annual mowing/bush hogging of the Conservation Meadow in the next week or so. In addition they will remove the fences around trees at the north end of the meadow and clearing as much of the surrounding brush as possible. Town volunteers will be needed to remove the non-native invasive (NNI) vines (primarily wisteria and bittersweet) that have grown up inside the protective enclosures. The trees have not been browsed by deer but at this time it is important to remove the NNIs and let the trees breathe.
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – Georgette Cole
I’ve spoken to Michelle Neary, president of the SGC HOA, and she will notify their residents of the Meadow mowing, especially the two end houses next to the trees with fences to be removed
MAPLE LAKE – Alison Faupel
The next Lake committee meeting will be held on Thursday, 21 April at 7:30pm. Lake Clean-Up day is scheduled for Saturday, 9 April at 10am. Rain-day is Sunday, 10 April at noon.
Steve Werts has repaired the gully in the road at the inner gate with a concrete pad and laid gravel down to the parking area inside the gate. PEPCO is repairing the power line to the maintenance shed, and John Hutchinson is reinstalling and checking the video surveillance equipment for use when the lake reopens.
Hiring for lifeguards in underway; the Lake Committee is soliciting additional applicants. Lainey Selby has been hired as the swim instructor for the summer. Swim lessons will run from 5 July through 29 July. Swim lesson forms and party permits will be posted on the Town website and submitted electronically.
Lake Committee volunteers are monitoring the lake for signs of geese nests. The fence around the perimeter of the lake has developed two holes; we are looking into repair options. NatureWorksCWA will come in early May to begin algae and Pond weed control.
The gate combination will be changing in mid-April. Residents should contact John Hutchinson, Bruce Rothrock, or the Town Office for the new number.
The “Closed Swimming Lake” legislation (House Bill 1101) has been scheduled for a hearing on 11 March. Mayor McCathran and John Hutchinson will be attending.
PLAYGROUNDS – Alison Faupel
Nothing to report
SAFETY – Alison Faupel
Nothing to report
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION – Audrey Maskery
Storm damage from snow, rain, high winds over the past month fortunately did very little damage to trees within Town and parks. The current work plan by F&B, Maintenance and PEPCO is very effective. F&B will continue to prune and remove dead trees throughout the Town on a section by section basis.
PEPCO announced a tree pruning project for the second line phase within Town, the work will affect the McCauley Street area. Exact dates for work to start are not yet been announced; timing will depend on Asplundh’s workload in other jurisdictions. The time frame will be sometime during the month of March, possibly early April.
March and the beginning of April will be spring planting time. The current plan is to plant two – three large caliber trees in Morgan Park (Grove Road, Brown Street, and Railroad Street area). F&B will consult with the contractor to ensure trees planted are compatible with planting sites. Two native Sycamore will also be planted in Woodward Park; one near the main entrance (Oak Street/Grove Road) the second Maple Avenue/Center Street.
MAINTENANCE – Audrey Maskery
Roads plowed, intersections and slopes sanded during and after each snow storm. The plowing and sanding often taking place during late evening and very early in the morning, providing safe roads, was greatly appreciated by drivers and walkers.
Work continues on town equipment. Steve rebuilt air pump for Maple Lake. We went with WSSC to inspect the two fire hydrants in East Woods for possible leakage. WSSC reported ‘no sign of any leakage.’
Met with CSX to discuss drainage issue under the R&R tracks. Water from Morgan Park is not draining correctly under Railroad Street and under the tracks. This has been an issue for a number of years. The problem has not yet been resolved. Resolution needs to be coordinated with the town, Montgomery County, and CSX.
Work by Myers & Laws continues in both East and West woods, supervised by Maintenance.
Whetstone Spring cleared of trash and vegetation; this area will be fenced off and made accessible only from within Maple Lake enclosure.
During the recent heavy rain, the main drainage gully running alongside Maple Lake enclosure, overflowed, eroding the road under the lake enclosure gate. A concrete beam will be poured to support the gate posts. Gravel will be used to fill the heavily eroded area either side of the Lake gate.
MEMORIALS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report
PLANNING COMMISSION – John McClelland
Building Permits: 304 Chestnut Ave submitted application for fence (that day) but failed to include a plat showing the intended location of the fence. The property owner was denied an exception to the building permit process for an immediate review and approval.
Public Ways and Property Permits: A bond renewal/expiration follow up process is to be implemented. Issues have arisen with the expiration of the prior bond provided for the 2nd Avenue reconstruction project and the change of contractors.
Records Retention: Marilynn Frey presented a format for PC archival record keeping that is compliant with the State of MD. With minor modifications, that form was approved for use. Thanks Marilynn!
Storm Water Management: MoCo was contacted to arrange for an on sight inspection of the various water issues throughout the Town. Don Harper (MoCo representative who had previously worked with Ann Briggs in 2008 -2011) subsequently responded and asked for a number of potential dates & times to schedule an appointment.
Block 11 – (8 The Circle): A letter was sent by the Mayor and PC Chair to the property owner of 8 The Circle providing an expected time line to complete the walkway. The encroaching stairs will need to be removed within 60 days of the walkway’s completion. Notification will be sent to the property owner upon completion.
- Three more properties have been completed
- Development of a spread sheet for the house file data continues
Ordinance Review: The Mayor asked the PC to amend the ordinances regarding clarification of private “for profit” endeavors taking place on Town land/property. Proposed language will be presented next month.
MCCATHRAN HALL – John McClelland
Automated External Defibrillator (AED)
- Initial Cost $1200 – $2600 ea. Cost influenced by power, water resistance, battery type, training compatibility, warranty, ability to upgrade etc.
- Subsequent costs – pads (adult and child), spare/replacement battery, software updates etc
- Other responsibilities include training, AED Coordinator, 911 phone availability, monthly inspections, reporting forms etc. (See attached action item list – provided by Charlie Challstrom)
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Bud O’Connor
Will be requesting a number of roadway repairs at the council meeting, all by an outside contractor.
WEBSITE – Bud O’Connor
Nothing to report.
RECREATION – Bud O’Connor
- Irish Songfest will be held in McCathran Hall
- Kids Dance continues.
- Yoga continues.
- Afternoon Exercise class continues
- STBB rehearsals are scheduled
WOODS GROUP – Greg Silber
A West Woods trash clean-up day will take place on Saturday, March 12th.
Work continues by a contractor and Town Maintenance to fell potentially dangerous hanging tree limbs and topping dead-standing trees along trails for public safety and to protect maturing trees. The Council issued an RFP to confirm the location of the westernmost boundary of the West Woods, and to purchase and install markers along this boundary. Bids for this work will be opened and evaluated by the Council at its 11 April meeting.
The balance of funds in this fiscal year and requests for funding in the coming fiscal year will support the west woods boundary project, the continued felling of dangerous trees and branches, and removing invasive plants. East woods invasive plant removal projects in relatively large swaths (depending on funds available) will be one of the main activities in the coming (fiscal) year. The Group also plans to work to restore the lake whetstone area and possibly the planting of trees where invasive plants have been removed, among other things.
This Group meets the first Monday of each month, 7:30PM.
CONTRACTS – Greg Silber
Recyclable yard waste pick up resumed on 2 March 2016.
INTERGOVERNMENTAL – Joli A. McCathran
On February 5 and 6, I attended the Maryland Mayor’s Conference. This conference is to connect with other mayors and support the Maryland Municipal Leagues 2016 Legislative Priorities.
MML’s Legislative Committee is proposing to put advocacy behind restoring Highway User Revenue dollars and protecting Project Open Space dollars as well as 3 strategic engagement position statements regarding police body cameras, foreclosures, and tax equity. Of course, I am continuing to seek support for MC 16-23, now NH-1101 Closed Swimming Lakes.
The Maryland Mayor’s Association heard were briefs from Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Governor, David R. Craig, Secretary, Department of Planning, and Pete K. Rahn, Secretary, Department of Transportation.
Thursday evening the Governor and his wife hosted a lovely reception at the Governor’s Mansion.
At the Friday breakfast, the keynote speakers were Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, Jr., President of the Senate, Michael E. Busch, Speaker of the House of Delegates and David R. Brinkley, Secretary, Department of Budget and Management.
At the end of the conference the Mayor Peter Fosselman gave a press conference in regards to the Highway User Revenue funding and its effect on municipalities.
I also attended the Montgomery Chapter of the Maryland Municipal Leagues’ monthly meeting. We hosted County Executive Ike Leggett. Mr. Leggett did mention it is likely the Montgomery County taxes will be raised this year.