9 July 2018 | Approved: 13 August 2018
Mayor Compton called the public hearing for both Ordinance 2018-04 (Zoning Text Amendment to Modify Special Rules for Fences and Carports, add Definitions for Clarity and Consistency and Modify Accessory Building Set Backs) and Ordinance 2018-05 (Ordinance to Amend Article IV Building Permit Regulations to Modify and Clarify Requirements for Building Permits) to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Council Members Darrell Anderson, Charlie Challstrom, Marida Hines, and Audrey Maskery. Pat Klein arrived at 8:50 PM and Rob Gilmore called in at 8:55 PM. Also in attendance were Treasurer Mary Challstrom, and residents Georgette Cole, Dave Cosson, Christine Dibble, Marilynn Frey, Woods Committee Co-Chair Joan Mahaffey, and Virginia Quesada. In addition, Lisa Kokes arrived at 8:20 PM, Jean Potmesil and Ken Stricklett arrived at 8:43 PM, and Mary Warfield at 8:53 PM. Dan Jolles from JBI Services and Calvin Meleney from Generating Power were in attendance for the opening of the bids for a standby generator for McCathran Hall.
Charlie Challstrom testified on behalf of the Planning Commission (PC). He stated the Commission is still wrestling with details and clarifications for both ordinances and requests the Town Council hold the Public Hearing open until the August Council meeting. Discussion included Montgomery County Code already in use, fence heights, additional material added by the PC and repair/replace language. The Council agreed to hold the Public Hearings open until the August 13th meeting of the Town Council.
The public hearings were ended at 8:45 PM.
TOWN COUNCIL MEETING
Mayor Compton called the regular meeting of the Town Council to order at 8:46 PM.
Approval of the Agenda:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the agenda. Marida Hines seconded the motion. The agenda was amended to add Item 10A. Request Montgomery County install speed humps on Railroad Street. Vote: 4-0, as amended.
There were no public appearances.
Approval of Minutes:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the minutes of the Town Council meeting on June 11, 2018. Darrell Anderson seconded the motion. Discussion included editing minutes for style and content, and notation of names when reporting votes. Vote: 4-0. Approved as amended.
Treasurer’s Report: Darrell Anderson moved to accept the Treasurer’s Report for June 2018. Marida Hines seconded the motion. Discussion: none. Vote: 5-0. Approved.
Marida Hines moved that Joli McCathran and John McClelland be removed from the list of authorized signers on Town of Washington Grove bank accounts and confirm the addition of John Compton and Darrell Anderson as authorized signers on Town of Washington Grove bank accounts. Vote: 5-0. Approved.
Opening of Request for Proposals for a Standby Generator at McCathran Hall:
Mayor Compton explained this RFP originated from the Emergency Preparedness Committee under the previous Council. The Mayor opened both bids.
Generating Power bid
16 KW $10,870.00
20 KW $11,940.00
JBI Services bid
20 KW $13,853.00
Discussion: Mr. Jolle (JBI) and Mr. Meleney (GP) answered questions from the Mayor and Council about the following:
- Generator size
- Potential add-on’s
- Automatic weekly testing
- Lowering the Hall panel box to bring it up to County Code
- Gas meter upgrade
- Comparing noise, fuel efficiency, providing Hall power needs between f the 16 kw, 20 kw and 22 kw.
- Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts should review both bids and provide his assessment to the Council.
- Award of a contract is deferred until the August 13th meeting.
The Mayor and Council thanked Mr. Jolle and Mr. Meleney for attending the meeting and answering questions.
Discussion and Action on Ordinance 2018-04:
Action on this item is deferred until the August 13th meeting of the Town Council.
Discussion and Action on Ordinance 2018-05:
Action on this item is deferred until the August 13th meeting of the Town Council.
Discussion of Resolution 2018-06; Establishing Rules and Regulations for a Town Dog Park:
Mayor Compton provided his revised draft of the Resolution which incorporated suggestions from the Public Comment hearing June 11th, the Dog Park Group and the Woods Committee. Discussion included:
- Reasons for the removal of Dog Park Group references
- The need for a separate resolution establishing the Dog Park itself and its oversight
- Similarities to the process used to establish rules at Maple Lake
- Enforcement options
- What constitutes an adult?
- Liability waivers
- Responsibilities of dog owners
- Specifications for the Park, fence and construction, and costs estimates.
- Modifications and additions were made to the July 8 draft Resolution language. Mayor Compton will cleanup and distribute the revised draft for further review prior to the August 13th meeting.
- Accepted the Dog Park Committee offer to provide the Council with proposed Dog Park specifications and cost estimates to help determine if an RFP will be required.
- Councilor Gilmore agreed to prepare the second Resolution; “Establishment of a Town Dog Park”, for consideration in August.
Installation of Temporary Speed Bumps on Chestnut Road:
Mayor Compton read minutes from the November 2017 meeting of the Town Council at which the purchase of removable rubber speed bumps for installation in two (2) locations on Chestnut Road was approved. Council discussion of the installation of the speed bumps included:
Placement of the rubber bumps (Chestnut Rd. & Oak, Chestnut Rd. $ Acorn Lane)
Adding a rubber bump on Hickory Rd. In the future.
Notification (Next August Town Bulletin)
Trial use/temporary status
Rotating the bumps to different roads
Consequences for traffic on other roads (Traffic may shift to avoid bumps)
- Pat Klein moved, and Audrey Maskery seconded, that installation of the temporary speed bumps at Chestnut Road & Oak Street and Chestnut Road & Acorn Lane be authorized. Vote: 6-0. Approved.
Railroad Street Speed Hump Request Letter to Montgomery County:
The Planning Commission requested that Mayor Compton write a letter to Montgomery County asking for the installation of a speed hump on Railroad Street, and provided a draft letter. Discussion:
- Unsafe conditions for pedestrians crossing the road and vehicles turning from and onto Grove Road.
- Requesting speed tables and having the crosswalk on top of one.
- Possible installation of an “on demand” traffic light
- Mayor Compton will rewrite the request letter to focus on safety issues and include mention speed tables, the crosswalk, the traffic light option. . This request is the first step in the Montgomery County process for considering speed humps.
Appointment to the Fire Board:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the Mayor’s appointment of Vernon King to the Fire Board. Darrell Anderson seconded the motion. There was a brief discussion. Vote: 6-0. Approved.
After minor edits, the Council Reports were approved by general consensus and will be posted on the Town website.
PC & HPC Alternate Members Update – Mayor Compton reported so far only John McClelland has volunteered as an Alternate (the Planning Commission).
Managed Lane Study – Mayor Compton reminded Council of the State study involving the Beltway (495) and Route 270. He stressed the importance of . attention to this and of offering individual input during the process.
Ordinance 2018-02 – Update – The ordinance will become effective on July 11, 2018. The Planning Commission has and created a template for use by owners choosing to utilize the enacted process and request that Town land upon which part of their main building sits be sold to them Review by the Town Attorney was discussed.
- Style of Town Council Minutes: Deferred.?
- Open Meeting Act (OMA) training and discussion.
- The intent of the OMA.
- Inviting the Town attorney to give an overview of the OMA.
- Asking Town attorney to help with the areas where interpretation problems exist.
- Closing the meeting with the Town Attorney to obtain legal advice on the OMA
- Three (3) principals of a public body
- Charlie Challstrom, Rob Gilmore and Pat Klein will develop questions specific to the needs of the Mayor and Council for the Town attorney, which the Mayor will transmit.
Proposal to Modernize Election Procedures – Mayor Compton reported Georgette Cole has agreed to lead a group to review Town election procedures and advise the Council on revisions. The group will include the Board of Election Supervisors and Charlie Challstrom.
Resolution Establishing a Public Dog Park in the West Woods – Addressed earlier during discussion of Resolution 2018-06; Dog Park Rules and Regulations. See above.
Proposal to Adopt a Code of Conduct for Public Meetings – Deferred to subsequent meeting.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 10:15 PM.
TC REPORTS – July 2018
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – Darrell Anderson
Meetings. The regular monthly meeting was held June 19, 2018. The next regular meeting is scheduled for July 17, 2018.
Progress on contract for review of the Town’s Historic District Updating. A Phase I interim report of the architectural survey (~230 houses) by Robinson & Associates was received in May and can be reviewed in the Town Office. Phase I is comprised of the architectural survey and cultural landscape analysis. The interim cultural landscape analysis was to be submitted by June 21. Members suggested various items that could be included in the final Phase I report, including a list of houses that have been moved from their original plat, approach to additions, people of note and their house numbers, and unique architectural features. There will be further discussion of these items, and others, at the July HPC meeting. The final Phase I report is due to be submitted in August.
Comments on the Public Meeting for Ordinance 2018-02. The HPC did not think the public meeting was successful for the HPC because their suggested input was not accepted by the Town Council. The main issue was that there were not specific guidelines given to those who wished to purchase the Town property currently absorbed into their porches or other buildings. It was pointed out that Ordinance 2018-02 was an enabling ordinance to make it possible for residents to purchase the land but that when they apply, the Planning Commission, HPC, and Town Council will have input into the requirements for purchase. It is anticipated that each request will include specific requirements for that resident that may not apply to those residents applying later.
Mater Plan. Gail Littlefield provided a list of sections of the Master Plan of interest to the HPC. These sections will be assigned to HPC members according to interest.
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – Darrell Anderson
I had phone discussions to set up a date with Montgomery County Parks to complete limited mowing in those areas identified that have new pockets of mile-a-minute (MAM), Japanese knotweed, and other invasive species. It is hoped that the mowing will begin during the middle of July.
STREET SIGN RESTORATION PROJECT – Darrell Anderson
Susan Van Nostrand held two gathering to produce more of the signs for this project. The seven new signs and five “mash signs” produced last month were given to Steve for placement. When the signs from the two gatherings are completed, they will be given to Steve for placement.
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Darrell Anderson
Steve and I discussed meeting to begin reviewing what roads need repaving in the Fall. We will meet during the second week of July due to a heavy maintenance load caused by downed trees and the sinkhole on Chestnut Avenue. I received an email from a resident requesting that the shoulders of Ridge Road be filled in because smaller cars “bottom out” when they have to move to the shoulder to allow trucks or large cars to pass.
The sinkhole on Chestnut Avenue has been filed in with tons of rock, gravel, and sand. The underlying reason for the sinkhole has not been definitively determined but it will be monitored by the company that has the gas line along Chestnut Avenue.
PLANNING COMMISSION – Charlie Challstrom
Building Permits Approved:
- 105 Grove Ave – Update: replacement of fence between neighbors awaiting boundary survey
- 417 Center St – 4-foot fence approved
Ordinances 2018-04 and 2018-05 – Input for Council Public Hearings: Ordinance 2018-04 has proposed amendments to Article VII, Zoning Ordinance, to modify special rules for fences and carports, add definitions for clarity and consistency, and modify accessory building setbacks. Ordinance 2018-05 has proposed amendments to Article IV, Building Permit Regulations, to modify and clarify requirements for building permits.
Based on further examination of these two Ordinances, the PC concluded the definitions as introduced needed refinement because “repair” uses “replacing” and there is not the intended distinction and clarity for building permits. The PC focused attention on definitions of “Repair” and “Ordinary Repairs” for Article VII, and on clarity for Article IV regarding building permits for “Repair” situations. County Code Chapter 8, Buildings, (which already applies in Town) provides language on “Ordinary Repairs” coupled with a definition of “Repair” from the International Building Code (which also applies in Town). Black’s Law Dictionary provides a general definition of “Ordinary Repairs” to reinforce the concept of when a building permit is not required for repair work. The PC has crafted additional clarifying language for “Ordinary Repair” of fences in Town.
The PC continues working on refinements to the special rules proposed in Ordinance 2018-04 with regard to allowable heights of a fence “on any lot line separating privately owned land from the rear lot line to the main building line extended.” The PC is responding to challenges for fences on a lot line separating adjacent properties that are oriented differently, e.g., the lot line is the rear line for one property but is the side line for the adjacent property.
The PC recommends the Council leave the record of the public hearings for both of these Ordinances open until at least August 8, 2018 to allow for additional input and comments.
Draft Ordinance for Sales of Surplus Land: Article XVII of the Washington Grove Code of Ordinances provides a process by which the Council may by ordinance sell certain Town-owned land on which a portion of a main building has been constructed after a request for purchase is submitted to the Town Office by the owner of the main building. The Planning Commission has endorsed a July 3, 2018 Draft Ordinance as a template for each individual Ordinance required for sale of surplus land for the nine properties specified in Article XVII. The Draft Ordinance reflects the process: Owner submission of a request for purchase, accompanied by four copies of an identification plan; Planning Commission and Historic Preservation Commission actions and recommendations; Council considerations, findings, and declarations; Authorization of an appropriate deed with stipulated sales price; and Enforceable covenants to run with the land.
Master Plan Update: A “2019 Master Plan Call for Recruitment” was in the July Town Bulletin, and some residents have expressed interest in participating in the Ad Hoc Advisory Groups for the 2019 Master Plan. Other update work is already underway by Town committees and commissions. The Planning Commission plans to include topical worksessions in some of its future meetings.
Code Enforcement Services: The Planning Commission reviewed Ordinance No. 2007-09 which implemented the municipal infractions process for violations of the Town’s Code of Ordinances, the Town’s 2007 Consultant Agreement for Code Enforcement Services (used for contract with Larry Plummer), and a couple of pages from Municipal Infractions and Code Enforcement, a 2017 handbook prepared by Frank M. Johnson, Gaithersburg Assistant City Attorney. Larry Plummer has retired; his last inspection for the Town was in 2014. The Planning Commission recommends the Mayor and Town Council take action to engage a qualified individual to provide code enforcement services which would include inspections associated with zoning use and building permits.
MCCATHRAN HALL – Charlie Challstrom
Ethernet and Telephone Cables Extended: Ethernet and telephone cables have been run under the floors between the Town Office and the Piano Box to improve internet and telephone connections throughout the Hall. (Thanks to Dave Hix and his crawling skills!) A second wi-fi router is connected in the Piano Box for better wi-fi coverage and to allow ethernet cable connection for faster streaming download, e.g. for the Film Society. The added telephone jacks in the Piano Box and the Lower Hall will provide connection to the Ooma Router when using the Polycom unit for teleconferencing during meetings. These ethernet and telephone cables will be controlled via labeled RJ11/RJ45 connections in the Town Office.
CONTRACTS – Rob Gilmore
Nothing to report.
WOODS – Rob Gilmore
The Woods Committee met on Monday, July 2, 2018, to continue discussions on the following ongoing committee activities.
Committee members reported on IPC’s walk through and initial herbicide treatments in the East Woods on July 2nd. The Committee noted the advance notice of the herbicide treatment that had been distributed to the town through several means, and that a few residents had expressed concerns about the herbicide treatments, stirring up of rats, and the sequencing of deer control measures and herbicide applications. The Committee observed that there were encouraging signs that Wisteria control had improved, but also noted that Mile a Minute growth was heavy near “Nico’s Wood.” IPC will return on Tuesday, July 10 for an additional week’s work on the woods east of Maple Avenue, and one day’s work targeting invasive grasses along the trails. Signs already have been posted and the trails should be closed temporarily while this work is being completed.
The Committee also discussed trail maintenance as well as the naming of trails through the woods. Several specific maintenance items were identified for action in coordination with Steve Werts. There were suggestions for enlisting the aid of town volunteers to clear trails, as well as possibly asking the campers in Summer in the Parks to participate in naming trails that did not already have names.
The Committee then noted an ongoing issue with the encroachment into the East Woods of a basketball court on a private resident’s property in an adjacent neighborhood. Apparently this was an issue that was first worked on by Mayor McCathran, but requires continued efforts by the Mayor and Town Council.
Finally, the Committee returned to discussing deer management and reforestation issues. Meg O’Connell handed out a “Reforestation” plan that would include provisions for deer culling and exclosures. It was noted that Maryland DNR-approved Deer Control operators would be in a position to prepare much of the deer control plan that the Town would need to submit to the state. There was significant discussion about the plan, and the Committee agreed to provide comments to the plan so that a final version would be forthcoming to be presented to the Town Council.
DOG PARK – Rob Gilmore
The Dog Park Committee did not hold a meeting in June. However, I understand from its co-chairs, Christine Dibble and Mary Warfield that they have been active in compiling information for the dog park construction, and intend to work with the committee to formulate a recommendation on the construction as well as in assisting the Mayor and Town Council in a request for proposal, if needed.
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – Rob Gilmore
Nothing to report.
WEBSITE – Marida Hines
- In addition to updates regularly posted on meeting dates, agendas, and minutes, the website has been updated to reflect new activity. This included:
- Revised and updated contact information for the Council, Commissions and Committees.
- Christine Dibble put together a page of information useful to prospective new residents. The web page includes information on schools, amenities for kids, and higher education admissions by past Grove students. This page is at http://washingtongrovemd.org/moving-to-washington-grove/
- Christine also provided information on the Dog Park Committee including the purpose of the committee and minutes of its first meeting. This page is located at http://washingtongrovemd.org/town-government/commissions-committees/dog-park-committee/
RECREATION – Marida Hines
Meetings: The next meeting of the Recreation Committee is scheduled for July 16, 2018.
Activities: Summer in the Parks has about 34 children. Things are going well. Volunteers and staff are doing a great job. Several town residents are helping to create a musical petting zoo for the kids on July 20th and a campout is scheduled for July 27th starting at 6pm with a potluck.
4th of July celebrations went off without a hitch. A particular shout-out is due to the Muskrat Band, which performed beautifully for a lengthy period in extreme heat. Of note was a performance by the new resident group Sabrageurs de Washington Grove (Motto: Un pour tous, tous pour le champagne”) who opened champagne bottles with swords.
COMMUNICATIONS WORK GROUP – Marida Hines
The Communications Working Group held its first meeting on July 6, 2018. In attendance were Marida Hines, Council Liaison to the group, Christine Dibble, Betsy Klinger, Marilynn Frey, John Hutchinson, Jeff McCrehan, Kathy Evans, Kathy Lehman, Terri Johnson, and Jane Seegal.
The meeting began with discussion and agreement on the group’s purpose, structure, membership, and decision-making process. This was followed by a kickoff brainstorming to identify where issues exist in the Town’s official communications, what the group should focus on, and options for addressing them. This generated a list of approximately 8 focus areas with the understanding that this is just the first run at this and more discussion will be beneficial. The group also began discussing a process for drafting and for facilitating input from those not on the committee, and discussed means for finalizing recommendations.
The group will meet next on July 16, 2018.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS COMMITTEE – Pat Klein
The Committee met on June 28th to discuss progress on the several activities.
Public Appearances: Vernon King offered his suggestions marking fire hydrants and discouraging cut-through traffic. He supported using reflective tape on the walkway fire hydrants and recommended using spring-mounted reflective poles to hydrants along roadways that may be obscured by plowed snow during the winter. He supported the use of speed bumps along ‘cut-through’ streets in town such as Chestnut Street and either to reconfigure or close the McCauley Street/Washington Lane intersection to discourage the illegal turns as a safety concern within the Town.
Generator Status: In response to the Request for Proposals (RFP), there have been three site visits by potential bidders but no proposals received at the time of the EPC monthly meeting. The deadline for proposals is Friday, July 6, 2018 to be opened at the Town Council meeting on July 9. The Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) notified the Town that FEMA has released a tentative schedule for a 2018 FEMA Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) grant program which may provide up to 75% of the costs of a generator provide it would protect a critical facility. The EPC believes maintaining continuity of operations for the Town Hall/Office would meet the grant qualification criteria.
Fire Hydrant Marking: Several hydrants in Town have been marked using the 2-inch wide “DOT C2” reflective tape provided by WSSC. Another approach would attach the 2-inch reflective tape to the hydrants just below the rim using cable ties to avoid replacing the tape when the hydrants are painted. The EPC plans to put a notice in the July/August Town Bulletin requesting volunteers to help mark hydrants in Town on Saturday, August 4, starting at 10:00 a.m.
Streetlight for Railroad Street: The Planning Commission (via Charlie) submitted an email request to Montgomery County (MC) DOT for installation of a streetlight on Railroad Street to safely illuminate the painted crosswalk between the Ride-On bus stops/MARC station. MC is responsible for Railroad Street and its streetlights. The request included a safety rationale and a streetlight compatible with non-intrusive lighting to residential areas in Town.
County Hazard Mitigation Planning: The Town continues to participate in the County’s update of its Hazard Mitigation Plan, with an expectation the Town Council will adopt the updated County plan in order to remain eligible for FEMA Hazard Mitigation grants. The tentative timeline for the updated County plan includes a July draft for MEMA/FEMA review, and then a September distribution of the final County plan to municipalities for adoption.
Standing Water and Disease Prevention: The June Town Bulletin included reminders to residents regarding standing water in and around Town and the threat from mosquito-borne diseases. With regard to public properties, the Committee noted the Town’s input for the above-referenced County Hazard Mitigation Plan included proposed County actions to restore and upgrade stormwater drainage under Railroad Street to reduce standing water in Morgan Park.
Active Shooter Situation Training: Committee members shared their knowledge and experience with available training to prepare for active shooter situations, noting the message of “Run. Hide. Fight.” Committee members discussed possible implementation of training for Town employees and officials, perhaps online or in person at the Town Hall. The Department of Homeland Security provides online information at: https://www.ready.gov/active-shooter Sat noted this training is included in the County’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training program, and another CERT session is beginning July 2. Exploration of potential sources of active shooter situation training will continue.
Report from Town Council: Patty provided an update on the June 25 Special Town Council Meeting during which the Council adopted a resolution calling for humane and sensible immigration policies.
The next EPC meeting will be Thursday, July 26th at 7:30 PM.
MAPLE LAKE – Pat Klein
The Committee met on June 21 and discussed updates on the following activities.
Maintenance: Steve Werts reinstalled and checked the video surveillance equipment. The new ladder with handrails was installed on side of the diving dock. Long Fence fixed the fence damage around outflow section on May 25th (cost $3198). Steve will finish installing barbed-wire arms on new fence at Newport when time permits.
Lifeguards and Swim Instruction: Nine Life Guards were hired for the season (Lainey will be available as a substitute). Swim lessons started July 2nd (No lessons on July 4th, or 7/9 and 7/10.) NatureWorksCWA treated the lake for algae and pond weed control on May 9th and June 20th. Lake water is being tested monthly for coliforms – to date, tests were conducted on May 14th and June 25 and met water quality standards.
Security: MCPD Commander Patil and officers met with Lake/Town officials to arrange for random patrols at the Lake 2-3 times weekly. Two patrolmen were observed at the Lake on June 15th.
NEWS UPDATE: There were two incidents at the Lake on July 4th.
- A pistol was found at the bottom of the Lake – a police report was filed.
- A swimmer (Bryce) sustained a deep laceration and severed a tendon in his hand when he dove off the diving board looking for an object on the bottom of the lake. An emergency room report is on file in the Town Office. Hand surgery is scheduled next week. The Town must decide if the Lake should be drained to locate (and remove) the hazardous object and/or other mitigation efforts to prevent further injury risks.
The next meeting is scheduled on July 19th at 7:30 PM.
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION – Audrey Maskery
The yearly ‘pruning’ program to remove large tree branches overhanging avenues and roads throughout the Town is currently underway when weather permits. Trees deemed to be in poor condition have been removed and in most cases the tree base ground out in preparation for future planting where appropriate.
Trees planted in the last two/three years will continue to receive water through the summer months, however, the cool wet spring has given all recently planted trees time to establish a good rooting system.
MAINTENANCE – Audrey Maskery
Work on the clay courts, weeding and lute (break up old surface material), spray and roll courts before re-aligning line tapes and nailing tape in place. Purchased 1 tun of Har-Tru surfacing material for the clay courts.
Placed new speed bumps at Chestnut & Acorn; Oak & Chestnut. The speed bumps were then removed at request of the Mayor. Mr Compton would like to inform the Town of the use of the speed bumps before re-placing them. New lock for Maple lake entrance purchased and installed. Installed diving board at the lake ready for the summer season.
Grass cut around the Gazebo and check the electric outlets in readiness for Music Weekend. Continuing grass cutting program throughout the Town. Cleared storm damage material, and took the debris to the dump.
MEMORIALS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report
PLAYGROUNDS – Audrey Maskery
Maintenance will be re-furbishing play-fort in increments as time permits. Starting in July the equipment will be closed periodically as work progresses.
INTERGOVERNMENTAL – John Compton & Joli McCathran
Joli A. McCathran, MML Representative 2018 Annual MML Convention
As the Maryland Municipal League (MML) representative from the Town of Washington Grove, I attended the Annual Conference at Ocean City. This year’s theme was, LEAD: Learn, Engage, Access, Deliver.” A wide variety of workshop and training activates were available. I will only highlight a few of the ones I attended.
Opening Session began with Annual Parade of Municipal Flags. The guest speaker was Shannon Huffam Polson. Ms. Polson was the first woman to fly Apache combat helicopters in the U.S Armed Forces. She shared lessons and leadership strategies to help municipal officials harness their inner strength.
Hot Button Legal Issues: This was an opportunity to learn what Maryland cities and towns are facing with legal challenges. The main topics was compliance with the Open Meeting Act of Maryland (OMA), cannabis in the workplace, and Sanctuary City status among a few other topics. The OMA I will discuss later.
- Cannabis in the Work Place: Every municipality should have a clear policy of drug and alcohol abuse in place. This is still an illegal substance for use in the workplace. There is no federal compliance with the American’s With Disability Act as it is still illegal on the federal level. (Use of cannabis is only decimalized in Maryland, not legal.) Evidence of cannabis being used is reason for not hiring a new employee or termination of a current employee. It was suggested to have all employees tested for illegal drug use. (There are always some exceptions for medical use but must be supported through medical documentation and kept on file.) Also, the state of Maryland may require testing of all employees when municipalities prepare for a state grant to ensure a drug-free work place.
- Work-Place Anti-Harassment Policies: LGIT handed out a list of what local government’s policies must include. Such a policy is the cornerstone of the efforts to prevent harassment in the workplace. For more information on the requirements visit eeoc.gov or mccr.maryland.gov.
Open Meetings Act: This session discussed new legislation enacted:
- It is the right of the public to view any public body doing, in our case, town business. This includes committee and sub-committees or any group acting on town business including “informally seated” public bodies.
- All public business must be conducted in open settings.
- Agendas for all public bodies must be posted by the required time prior to any meeting.
- Minutes must be taken and approved at the next regular meeting.
- A vote to close a meeting must be held as part of the public session.
- A current qualified OMA person must be designated and be present at a closed meeting on any level. Otherwise any public body may not go in the closed session. Attending this class accounts for the new updated training requirements
- I attended the MML Montgomery Chapter Dinner on Monday evening. There were many people seeking votes for the MML Board and for state offices. We also discussed issues for the ensuing year for the local chapter. I participated in the MML voting and Councilor Ryan Spiegel, Gaithersburg was elected President Elect. I attended a dinner with remarks by Governor Hogan.
Attended other sessions and especially enjoyed the Main Street Exhibition Hall.
Ken and I camped at Assateague Island State Park for this event and enjoyed waking up to the ponies by our camp site each morning.