10 July 2017 | Approved: 14 August 2017
Mayor Joli McCathran called the meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:33 p.m. In attendance were Council Members John Compton, Patrice Klein, Audrey Maskery, and John McClelland. Also present were at least 27 residents.
Approval of Agenda:
Pat Klein moved to approve the agenda. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Mayor McCathran removed the Treasurer’s Report from the agenda. Vote: 4-0, approved.
Judy Mroczka reported about the June 29th grief counseling session given to help with the effects of the recent drowning at Maple Lake. Detailed results can be found in the Emergency Preparedness Committee section of the July Council Reports. The Mayor, Council and residents shared information about the tragic drowning, ideas for preventing another drowning, consequences of typical teenaged behavior, prosecution for trespassing, better dissemination of information, and getting access to the final police report. Mayor McCathran will write a thank you note to the therapist who held the grief counseling session. She also thanked Judy for her input.
Joan Mahaffey presented a packet of information to the Mayor and Council as a Town resident concerning land use and the future of the East and West Woods. She read her cover letter aloud. She believes no changes in land use in the East and West Woods should occur until the zoning of the entire East Woods and adjacent sections of Woodward Park is clarified.
Pat Klein made a motion to ask the Woods Committee to follow up and make a recommendation to clarify land use issues in the East Woods (see Exhibit E in the packet). The motion was seconded by Audrey Maskery. After a discussion, the motion was tabled and will be brought up again under New Business during this meeting.
Pat Klein brought Exhibit H from the packet to the Council’s attention. She stated the East Woods are a designated wetland at the federal, state and county levels, therefore they are protected. She noted the Maryland Non-Tidal Wetlands Protection Act. Joe Stolz stated it is a criminal offense to disturb wetlands.
Approval of Minutes:
Pat Klein moved to approve the minutes of the Town Council meeting on June 12, 2017. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. The Council amended the minutes in several areas. Vote: 4-0, approved, as amended. The Town Clerk asked if recording of the Town Council minutes could be placed on the next agenda.
Treasurers Report 2017-June pdf
There was no report this month due to the Treasurer’s vacation schedule.
Dog Exercise Area Petition:
Mayor McCathran read the petition. The signatures were verified as qualified voters by Board of Supervisors of Elections Chair Meredith Horan. The Mayor referenced Section 15(c) of the Town Charter which is the legislation that governs the petition process. A separate submission with many signatures at the June 2017 Council meeting by John Compton was titled as a Proposal rather than as a petition. The Mayor read the submitted text of the Proposal, explained the text was not specific enough to be a petition but it was accepted as a Proposal. A draft resolution establishing a public dog park facility on Town property was drafted by John Compton and sent to the Mayor in advance of the Council meeting. This draft was reviewed and edited by the Mayor and the Town attorney. There was a discussion about the following:
- The changes made by the Town attorney
- Town Charter requirements and the intent of the legislation
- Special Town meetings and noting power of the Town residents
- The lack of details in the current petition
- The obligation for the Council to consider what the people want in context of the Town’s best interest
- The Mayor appointing a workgroup or task force to study the potential for a dog park facility and to provide recommendations to the Town
Pat Klein stated after reading draft of a dog park proposal, it was apparent additional details and specification are still necessary in order to act responsibly. The idea of a workgroup or task force appointed by the Mayor is a positive approach and satisfies acting positively on the petition.
John McClelland moved to introduce and adopt Resolution 2017-04; Resolution Regarding Establishing a Public Dog Park Facility on Town Property as revised by legal counsel. Pat Klein seconded. The Council made amendments to the draft resolution.
John Compton stated the amended draft doesn’t act favorably upon the petition and it only allows for a study which he believes has already been done. Other Council members commented on the benefit of the amended draft resolution which proposes a workgroup to be appointed by the Mayor to consider and present its recommendations on development of a dog park to include location, wetlands restrictions, resident notification, expenses, town liabilities, and following the dictates of the Town Charter. There was a discussion about the workgroup and how many members should be appointed. It was suggested the member total may be seven (7); and to be as balanced as possible.
John McClelland stated the Town zoning ordinances and Master Plan will direct the Planning Commission on public land uses. Mayor McCathran will write the charge for the proposed workgroup.
John McClelland moved to accept the amendments to the original motion, Pat Klein seconded the motion. Mayor McCathran called for a roll call vote. The Clerk took the following vote: John Compton – Nay; John McClelland – Aye; Pat Klein – Aye; Audrey Maskery – Aye. The amended Resolution 2017-04 was adopted.
Mayor McCathran read a letter from a non-resident dog walker complaining about unleashed aggressive dogs in Town.
Relationship Between Unofficial Volunteer Grove Committees and Town Government – Discussion:
Mayor McCathran stated she sought the opinion of legal counsel while attending the Maryland Municipal Conference including our Town attorney. She stated the Town’s committees are required to comply with the Maryland Open Meetings Act. On-line training is available.
Emergency Preparedness Letter: This item was deferred to another meeting.
Tennis Court Repair Bid Opening:
American Tennis Courts $12,160.00
- Reset Net Posts Add On $ 2,865.00
Mid-Atlantic Tennis Courts $ 7,500.00 (No asphalt cuts)
- Reset Net Post Add On $ 357.00
- Additional work $ 12.00/linear foot
The Council reviewed the bids. Audrey will take them to Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts for consultation/evaluation. This item will be on the agenda for August.
Ordinance 2017-01 was effective on 6/21/17
Charter Resolution 2017-02 is not effective until 7/11/17
Ordinance 2017-03 effective 6/12/17
Patrice Klein moved to approve and post the Council Reports. John McClelland seconded the motion. John Compton reported HPC member Gail Littlefield had a conversation with the Battalion Chief from the Gaithersburg-Washington Grove Volunteer Fire Department concerning our street signs. A meeting will be scheduled to discuss what is acceptable in terms of safety and our wooden street signs. Vote: 4-0, approved.
- Update on letters sent to non-residents about use of the Town woods – The people who installed a basketball court partially on Town land have asked to buy or lease the land. Town Zoning would not allow for such a transaction. She invited them to come to the meeting of the Town Council. They have 60 more days to remove the object from Town land.
- Master Plan Update – There was nothing new on this item.
Invasive Plant Control (IPC) underestimated the amount of wisteria in our East Woods. Additional money needs to be added to the contract. This item will be tabled until Greg Silber returns.
Joan Mahaffey Packet (continued from second item in Public Appearances) – There was a motion and a second to ask the Woods Committee to follow up and make a recommendation to clarify land use issues in the East Woods based upon information provided by Joan Mahaffey during Public Appearances and also by John McClelland at the July 2017 PC meeting.
John reviewed what he brought to the attention of the PC at their July meeting. The Master plan outlines the continued protection/preservation of the Town’s woods – including a use of “passive recreation”. It also includes a map showing Woodward Park extending north of Center St to the Town’s boundary fence between Grove Rd and Maple Ave (extended). A sign found near the intersection of McCauley and Grove Rd says “Welcome, Washington Grove Forest Preserve, Please protect our woods”. The recent “de-platting” of the East Woods, the ongoing forest restoration project and a wetlands designation are included in this area of Woodward Park as well. The PC will be evaluating all of these factors when examining potential uses of public land.
The zoning (FR, RR-1 & Park) in the 2009 Master Plan which appear for the East Woods for certain uses as appropriate to either the Forest or the Park areas. There was a discussion about the following:
- Zoning changes
- Passive and active recreation
- Wetlands designation and potential impacts of a dog exercise area
- Federal, State, County and Local wetlands and laws protecting them
- Acknowledging the wetlands designations and abiding by State and Federal laws
- Restrictions for future development or land use in wetlands
- Unintended consequences of zoning changes
- Over regulation
- Gains and/or losses if there are zoning changes
- Existence of a federal and state permit process for an exception in use of wetlands
- Vote: 3-1, approved.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 10:30 p.m.
TC REPORTS – August 2017
MAPLE LAKE – Patrice Klein
Security: “No Trespassing” signs in English & Spanish were posted on the gate and various places around the fence line. Information was posted on the bulletin board by the lake entrance on how to recognize someone in trouble in the water, and how to deal with intruders at the lake.
Pond I Algae treatment: Nitella algae is present on much of the lake bottom which helps with sediment control. The algal treatment currently being used contains less copper (2%) than Cutrine (9%)
Water Quality Testing: Results continue to be well below the limits for Enterococcus and E. coli Maintenance tasks: Barbed wire on top of the fence to the right of the gate will be repaired to prevent intruders from easily hopping over the fence. Plan to add an overhead light to the new shed for the Life Guards, and fix the video camera in the kiosk by the entrance gate.
Swim Lessons: Lainey Selby organized and conducted classes from July 5-27. She also held a “Water Safety” Banquet for swimmers and their parents on July 14 which went very well.
Next Lake Committee Meeting is Wednesday , August 16, 2017.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS & SAFETY – Patrice Klein
Emergency Preparedness Committee (EPC)
Joint Meeting with Historic Preservation Commission (HPC): The EPC sent its recommendation to the Town Council (dated June 8, 2017) that brown aluminum street signs with reflective white letters be installed on all paved roads, streets, and lanes in Washington Grove. Subsequently, at the request of the HPC, ajoint meeting of HPC and EPC was held to further discuss how to meet safety needs while preserving the town characteristics . This discussion also prepared the HPC and EPC for a meeting with the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services Battalion Chief scheduled on August 12.
CSX Crossing Gate Incident with Ride-On Bus: Committee members discussed the July 11th incident at Aitcheson Crossing (Railroad Street and Oakmont Avenue) which reportedly involved a MARC train, Ride-On #61 bus, late activation of the CSX-controlled signals, and the crossing gate coming down on the bus. Committee members were not aware of any involvement of Town officials regarding this incident which raised concerns for town resident public safety. The EPC co-chair planned to follow-up with the Mayor or her delegate.
Neighborhood Watch: 24 Block Captains have been identified, with about 10 homes each, and a meeting is being planned with the Block Captains. Block Captain Contact Cards may be created and provided to each household.
Report on Risk Management Webinar: One of the EPC members participated in a July 20 FEMA webinar on mitigation planning. This 1-hour event focused on updated software tools for improving risk assessments for communities using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to estimate physical , economic, and social impacts of disasters. While the Town does not use ArcGIS software, some of the concepts presented in the webinar may be useful with contingency planning and outreach support to communicate with our residents about flood insurance policies and other risks.
Master Plan Revision: EPC discussed developing a new section in the next MP to include contingency planning, proximity of the railroad and Roberts Oxygen, emergency response, house numbering, fire risks, and weather emergencies.
Next EPC meeting is Thursday, August 24, 2017, 7:30 p.m.
Maryland Open Meeting Act: Several committee members are registered to attend the classroom training session on September 12 in Gaithersburg. This training will benefit all town committees and governmental functions.
East Woods: The Mayor sent letters to several encroaching properties from adjacent neighborhood to remind them to remove intrusions that trespass on WG town property. This includes extended sections of an asphalt basketball court and dumped tree debris.
IPC Updates: Crew will return on August 9th to conduct targeted treatments in the East Woods for stilt grass along trails. Although not required, the East Woods will be closed for 1-2 days during these treatments, and signs will be posted along the trail entrances and where the crews are working. The revised IPC budget reflecting increased cost for wisteria treatments was received, reviewed by the Mayor, budget liaison, and WC chairs; and will be discussed at the next TC meeting.
Deer Control Options: Initial outreach to MC deer control program coordinator is being planned to gather information and seek advice on possible town actions and participation in the county program. Further discussion at the next WC meeting .
Woods Committee Strategic Plan: Ongoing discussion to identify goals, objectives, and actions to continue town forest restoration and preservation. Committee will be working to reconcile discrepancies in East Woods zoning to be consistent with recent boundary survey/deplatting efforts filed with the County. This zoning reconciliation will assist the HPC application for renewal of the Town’s national historic status with submission of the most up to date maps of the East and West woods as forest preserves.
Next meeting is Tuesday, September 5th at 7:30 PM (rescheduled after the Labor Day holiday).
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION – Audrey Maskery
The first fall meeting to be held 9th August 2017. Main topic to be discussed is fall planting. Trees planted in the fall will be Native American; a number will be purchased from Stadler Nurseries, and larger caliber trees from Ace Tree Movers. We normally purchase the larger trees during the winter months, this is a less stressful time for the trees allowing them to flourish the following year. Although we purchase shrubs in early spring, we will also be planting some evergreen shrubs in the fall for screening purposes.
MAINTENANCE – Audrey Maskery
One new X-Mark mower has been purchased to replace one of the older mowers which needed too many repairs.
All SITP equipment removed from the Town Hall, and stored on shelving in the Maintenance shed for the winter.
The clay tennis courts are watered and rolled each week, lines brushed ready for use.
Removal of tree brush/limbs after each summer storm, and taken to the dump. Large logs, not removed by those requiring winter fuel will be taken to the dump.
Grass cut on playing field, parks, and around Maple Lake.
The trimming of shrubs throughout Town will continue providing pedestrian and car safety on the narrow roads.
All trees planted the last two years are watered weekly during the summer months. After the two-year period the trees are well established and the watering ceases, unless it is determined the tree requires extra water.
The drinking fountain in Woodward Park has been removed, and replaced against the tennis court fence providing easer maintenance.
MEMORIALS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report
INTERGOVERNMENTAL – Joli A. McCathran
Nothing to report
PLANNING COMMISSION – John McClelland
Planning Commission- August 2017
111Chestnut Ave – Fence approved with PC recommendation to reduce the height of the “side property line” fence height to 4 feet (vs. 6ft) from the front of the home to the Chestnut Avenue corner and also slope/scallop the Chestnut Rd rear sections. These recommendations were based upon the PC’s responsibility to safety, property values and compatibility. Article VII Section 3.327 will be evaluated for revision.
112 Chestnut Ave – Fence approved for 4 ‘split rail section. The 6 ft section proposed for Hickory Rd and Brown St was declined and requires a BZA hearing.
125 Grove Ave – Addition declined for incomplete application (no boundary survey)
Public Property – East Woods,Zoning,Wetlands and Potential Uses
Zoning – Article VII Section 3.33 states “This article does not apply to publicly owned or leased land used for a public purpose or benefit”. So a park designation and/or zoning of the East Woods is not binding upon the Town’s use of its public lands.
The re-subdivision of the East Woods was previously approved and has a signed plat. A portion of this plat includes an area designated as Woodward Park (north of Center St, west of Maple Ave and East of Grove Rd to the northern boundary of the Town) and zoned RRl Residential. A follow up action proposed by the woods group is for a Local Map Amendment changing the current “RRl Residential” zone to the “FR” zone. They provided a memorandum (attached) from Don Mccathran and Charlie & Mary Challstrom dated February 18, 2002 regarding land us issues of the East and West Woods that recommended possible steps the Town could take to legally record its intention to preserve the woods as open space dedicated to public use.
The PC declined to initiate the local (zoning) map amendment process as the Master Plan revision and data gathering of potential public land uses (dog park) is under way.
129 properties completed
Mccathran Hall – August 2017
Summer in the Parks has ended
Sprinkler system had its quarterly inspection
A tree fell near the Center St and Chestnut Rd intersection and was removed Bulbs and emergency lighting replaced as needed
Town Council Planning Commission
FROM: Mary ChalJstrom, Charlie Challstrom, and Don McCathran DATE: February 18, 2002
RE: Land Use Issues/East Woods and West Woods
At the February Planning Commission meeting, the legal status of the East Woods was discussed. The following day, we began to outline possible steps the Town could take to legally record its intention to preserve the woods as open space dedicated to public use.
The West and East Woods have different status. Though the West Woods (lake woods) was owned by the Washington Grove Camp Meeting Association, it was not included on the original plat of the Association in 1898. The West Woods was never subdivided and was annexed by the Town of Washington Grove in 1953 as open land. (See Chapter 615 of Laws of Maryland 1953) The earlier metes and bounds description was included on the Boundary Survey showing the corporate limits of the Town recorded on June 10, 1964, Plat Book 75, Plat No. 7435.
The East Woods has never been platted as unsubdivided acreage–it was shown as subdivided on the Association’s original plat. Both the West and East Woods were shown on the Town’s 1964 plat as being included in the Town’s Forest and Recreational (FR) Zone, and an updated version of that plat was recorded June 5, 1981, Plat Book 114, Plat No. 13470. Also in 1981, the lot and block subdivision pattern of the East Woods was abandoned through Equity Case No. 60889–but this action was never recorded by filing a plat in the Land Records for Montgomery County.
1. The Town Council should finalize the status of the Town-owned lots and portions oflots currently zoned RR-I in the residentially zoned portions of Blocks 28 and 33. (see diagram)
A. Ifthese lots and portions of lots are to be included in the FR Zone, a Sectional or Local Map Amendment is required–the process includes an application, referral to Historic Preservation Commission, notice and public hearing, and then decision by the Town Council (See Article VII, Section 13); OR
B. These lots and portions of lots could remain in the RR- I Zone and be dedicated to public
use without a change of zoning*; OR
C. To straighten the boundary of the East Woods, the above-referenced portions of lots could be offered for sale to the adjacent property owners in accordance with the Town’s Policy for Sale of Surplus Parcels (adopted by Town Council May 11, 1987).
MCCATHRAN HALL – John McClelland
A table design has been developed with a prototype currently under construction. It will accommodate 7-8 people, is convertible to a standard rectangular shape and will be located in the Old Council Room.
WOODS COMMITTEE – Greg Silber
See Pat Klein report
CONTRACTS – Greg Silber
Verbal report on 8/14/17
RECREATION – Shelley Winkler
Summer in the Parks completed another successful season. New members have joined the Recreation Committee, and plans for Labor Day Weekend and Halloween are underway. Bluestober Fest is also on the calendar. The Committee has decided to hold quarterly meetings, noting that once leadership is in place for each event, there is less need for committee members to meet as often.
WEBSITE – Shelley Winkler
Included in the agenda for today’s meeting is the Proposal from Bill Saar to import various Town documents (nearly 900) to our website. These include older meeting minutes, bulletins, and house histories. Many are still being held on the site he made available to
the Town in the past. That site may not exist in the future, so we need to include them on the Town’s website. Re-organizing the website architecture continues slowly, as we meet each month or more to reconsider the layout of topics and the associated content. Step by step….
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Shelley Winkler
Nothing to report
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – John Compton
The HPC held their regular monthly meeting July 18, 2017.
HPC minutes. Renewed effort is required to hire a replacement for Cynthia Werts to take and transcribe HPC minutes. The position will be posted in the Town Bulletin. Other suggestions are welcome!
Permit Reviews: none
Expansion of our National Register nomination. The committee reviewed Wendy Harris’s very thorough draft of the Scope Document for issuing the RFP for an expert Consultant to prepare the submission. Expectation is this may be complete as early as September.
Street Signs: David Cosson was present representing the Emergency Preparedness Committee (EPC). He and the HPC agreed that representatives of the EPC and HPC should meet with the Fire Chief to discuss his recommendations for improved signage and visible house numbers in Town in the context of the historic character of our present wooden street signs. Prior to this meeting, a preliminary discussion between EPC and HPC reps will be held.
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – John Compton
Access to the Meadow at the entry sign: Replacement of the present orange-chained barrier with more the aesthetic removable posts was approved by the TC in June. Since the most recent fix of the chained barrier appears to be intact, installing the removable posts doesn’t need to be a priority. When they are installed materials will be provided by Maintenance and Steve Werts will be responsible for the installation, excepting for locks and keys, which are to be provided by the MC Department of Parks (Master keys held by park employees, as well as the Park Police, and the Town).
Undesirable and unlawful mowing and other unauthorized infringement within the Park along Ridge Road: Still waiting for letters from the Dept. of Parks enforcement coordinator to Washington Grove residents and property owners along Ridge Road to address encroachments onto Meadow property.
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – John Compton
Nothing to report.