20 March 2017 | Approved: 10 April 2017
Mayor Joli McCathran called the meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:33 p.m. In attendance were Council Members Georgette Cole, Audrey Maskery, John McClelland, Greg Silber and Shelley Winkler. Pat Klein attended via cell phone. Also present were Treasurer Mary Challstrom, Woods Committee Co-Chair Joan Mahaffey, Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts, PC Chairman Peter Nagrod, HPC member Gail Littlefield and 30 residents.
Approval of Agenda:
Shelley Winkler moved to approve the agenda. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0, approved.
Closed Meeting Statement – February 13, 2017:
Mayor McCathran read the following closed meeting statement: The 13 February 2017 meeting of the Town Council in the Council Room in McCathran Hall went to a closed session at 10:32 PM. The meeting was closed under General Provisions Article 3-305(b), (1) to discuss the appointment, employment, assignment, promotion, discipline, demotion, compensation, removal, resignation, or performance evaluation of appointees, employees, or officials over whom this public body has jurisdiction or any other personnel matter that affects one or more specific individuals. Georgette Cole, Patrice Klein, Audrey Maskery, John McClelland, Greg Silber and Shelley Winkler voted to close the meeting. The Mayor and Town Council attended the closed session. This was a discussion about personnel matters. No action was taken. There was no recorded vote.
There were none.
Approval of Minutes: Georgette Cole moved to approve the minutes of the Town Council meeting of February 13, 2017 and post them to the website. Greg Silber seconded the motion. There were a few minor edits. Vote: 6-0, approved.
Treasurers Report 2017-February pdf
Shelley Winkler moved to accept the Treasurer’s Report for February 2017. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0, accepted.
Georgette Cole moved to transfer $5K from savings to checking to pay bills. Shelley Winkler seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0.
Mayor’s Appointments to Board of Supervisors of Elections:
A motion to approve the Mayor’s appointments of Meredith Horan, Kristin Perry and Nick Suzich to the Board of Supervisors of Elections. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0, approved.
Mayor McCathran gave a brief history of this subject including how the ad hoc group got started. The group, represented primarily by Mary Warfield, went before the Council to present the idea of creating a Town dog park, and provided a report to the Council on the topic. Mayor McCathran read the front page of the report and referenced the additional documents included in the Councilor’s packets. Mary explained the request first came to the Council in August of 2015 because the Town didn’t have a sanctioned place were dogs could play/run off-leash. She stated a dog park is a priority and considered an amenity in many communities. It is a place where dogs can play/run off-leash, be better socialized, and where people can meet. The ad hoc Dog Committee will oversee the running and maintenance of the dog park. Committee member Missy Yachup asked folks to keep in mind Washington Grove is a Town of small yards. Questions raised included:
- Size and surface of the dog park
- Fence height
- County animal control laws
- Number of dogs in Town
- Number of dogs allowed to use the area at any given time
- Why is this necessary? The Town is already dog-friendly.
- Negative effects of property values if constructed near homes
- Use by Town residents only – enforcement of this requirement
- Access – just like Maple Lake and the tennis courts – combination locks
- Odors, smell, noise, expected increases in foot and vehicular traffic
- Any liability for the Town
- Public Ways & Property Permit requirement
Mary Warfield stated all dogs which would be permitted to use a dog park would have to be licensed in Montgomery County current on required vaccinations, and be registered with the Town. She suggested Town government select the location. The group is committed to making this work. She noted not everyone plays tennis, swims at the lake or has kids who play in the park. And all residents pay taxes which support such amenities.
There was additional discussion about the location of the park and the pros and cons for creating one. Mary asked for clarification of the next steps required by Town government.
Mayor McCathran stated the next steps should be, the circulation of the detailed proposal for the dog park to all Council members and the development of a map by the Planning Commission showing possible locations for the park. It was suggested to identify three locations to weigh the pros and cons of each.
Councilor Shelley Winkler thanked everyone for sharing their differing opinions and said it helps to hear all the reasons for support of the dog park as well as all of the concerns expressed. She also thanked the group for doing their homework. Mayor McCathran thanked everyone for their participation.
Mayor McCathran gave some background about this issue and asked Susan Van Nostrand for an update. Susan located a company which makes reflective paint containing glass beads, and demonstrated the company’s product by painting an old sign. Susan also stated she did not know about the longevity of this paint. There was a discussion about current reflective standards, volunteer painters, various way to protect wood signs from rot, safety needs for emergency vehicles to locate homes in Washington Grove, and the possibility of decreasing reflectivity with the use of polyurethane. Susan will apply polyurethane to her sign and hang it outside to check reflectivity to light at night and see how it is affected by weather. Gail Littlefield did some research about reflective letters and numbers. She visited to two different local sign shops and presented her findings. They included:
- Bead reflective adhesive letters/numbers – $4.60 each
- Use of MDO (medium density overlay) for signs
- Aluminum reflective letters/numbers
- Home Depot brand of bead reflective letters/numbers with silicon adhesive
- Methods of attaching letters/numbers to wood
Mayor McCathran thanked Susan and Gail for their presentations. This item will be on the April agenda of the Town Council.
Shelley Winkler moved to approve the Council Reports with the inclusion of updated language from Georgette Cole by Wednesday, March 22, 2017 for posting on the web. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0, approved as amended.
304 Chestnut Avenue – Mayor McCathran reported on the conditions which will be included with the building permit for this property are drafted and being revised by the Town attorney and the Planning Commission. Two issues remain; the building permit application for 304 Chestnut Avenue and general rental issues in Town homes.
O’Connor Permanent Easement – Mayor McCathran reported the O’Connor’s attorney contacted the Town’s attorney regarding an alleged discrepancy in the square footage which they are working on. An update on this conversation will be reported at the next meeting of the Town Council.
Mayor McCathran reminded the Council of the Budget Work Session scheduled for Monday, March 27, 2017 at 7:30 PM in the Council Room.
A used Truckster was purchased to help with Town projects by Town Maintenance. The cost was $3,500. Steve Werts will build a cab, add a heater and re-do the bed.
Joan Mahaffey, Co-Chair, Woods Committee, asked Mayor McCathran to call a second Town Informational Meeting about the work in the East Woods focusing on deer control and re-forestation. Pat Klein, Co-Chair, Woods Committee noted the Committee was in the process of contacting the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Montgomery County to collect additional information on deer control options. This meeting will be scheduled for 24 April 2017.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 9:43 p.m.
TC REPORTS – April 2017
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – Georgette Cole
Review Session: Sandy Klingenberg was present to discuss her building permit application for a dormer enlargement at her residence, 103 Grove Avenue. The proposed project is for an extension of an existing side dormer. Sufficient information was submitted to the HPC for discussion. The home is a contributing structure and the dormer can be viewed from Grove Road. The proposed extension is in line with the existing dormer and retains the original scale of the structure. Bob will prepare a written review accordingly.
Expansion of National Register Nomination: The Commission continued an in-depth discussion of expanding and updating the Town’s nomination to the National Register. The HPC has requested that $30,000.00 be put in the new fiscal year’s budget for this purpose and a brief written justification was submitted to the Mayor for review. In response to the Mayor’s comments, which suggests that a correction to the NR nomination be pursued, not an addition, the Commission agrees that more information should be presented to the Mayor and Town Council to justify the need for an update to the nomination. The HPC feels that a correction would not be sufficient to give the Town the added protection needed when negotiating future issues as density continues to increase around us. The Mayor and Council need information to understand what is actually involved in the lengthy process of preparing such a document and the importance of hiring a professional consultant with the expertise and training to undergo such a task. The Commission agrees that the idea of having volunteers perform this undertaking is not feasible. A two-page letter will be prepared and submitted to the Mayor and Town Council prior to the budget work session on March 27 to ensure everyone involved has time to read and better understand how crucial it is move forward with the NR nomination to help strengthen and protect the Town and its borders in the future.
Street Signs: Gail reported that the work group (Margot Bohan, Gail Littlefield and Susan Van Nostrand) met to prepare research on available options for wood materials and reflective lettering solutions that could be used for the Town’s street and walkway signs. Their findings were presented to the Mayor and Town Council at the meeting on March 20th. Gail also prepared a draft letter for HPC review with her suggestions on appropriate guidelines to follow in maintaining the historic character of the street signs. The final edited version of this letter, with the proposed recommendations from the HPC, will be sent to the Mayor and Council.
Guidelines Work Group: Wendy, Pat and Mimi have met three times so far to discuss updating the Town’s existing design guidelines. Wendy has been preparing research on non-architectural features, including streetscapes and open spaces; Mimi has been researching porches while Pat has been doing the same on fences. The group has begun to investigate how these features are evaluated in design guidelines developed for other historic districts, as well as within the 2009 Master Plan and various sections of our Town’s Code of Ordinances. The group will meet again on Monday, March 27th.
Bulletin Material: Wendy reported that she is preparing an article from the Town Archives on Our Woods and Walkways: Are they Historic? Part one of this article will appear in the April bulletin.
PLAYGROUNDS – Georgette Cole
Nothing to report.
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – Georgette Cole
Nothing to report.
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – Georgette Cole
Nothing to report.
MAPLE LAKE – Patrice Klein
The lake opens Memorial Day weekend (5/28-30) and will be open weekends until school closes on June 16th; then open full time until school reopens in late August. Lake will be open for Labor Day weekend. The gate combo changes in mid-April. Contact Town Office for the new number. Lainey wants to teach swimming lessons again this year. The diving board will be installed in mid-June.
Town Maintenance has replaced 100 feet of chain link fence along left side of gate entrance where old fence was falling into the gully, and cleaned the gully under the bridge. Plans to replace the bridge are pending as time permits. The fallen tree has been cut down in the privacy area towards the left corner of the lake.
Algae and pond week control will begin in early May and continue every 3 weeks. Coliform water testing is scheduled monthly, June through August. A Rubbermaid storage bin for toys will be purchased. A new AED unit for the Lake has been purchased and registered.
The Lake Committee will hold a joint Spring Clean-up activity in the West Woods-Lake area with the Woods and Recreation Committees on Saturday, April 29 at 10:00 AM. Rain date is Sunday, April 30.
Lake Committee meetings will be on the 3rd Thursday of every month through September 2017.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS & SAFETY – Patrice Klein
The Committee has been working on several emergency preparedness issues to include Town infrastructure and critical functions.
Town Hall Generator: Discussions with Maintenance with recommendation for generator placement on the Center Street side of the Hall, as close as permitted near the basement stairwell, for close access to the interior electrical panel on the lower level. Natural gas powered generator must be at least 6 feet away from all windows and noise shielding may be a considered. Further discussions for final EPC recommendation are ongoing. An historic easement is necessary for the exterior of the Hall. There was a suggestion that Washington Gas might also be a source of information for this generator project.
Signage: There are current efforts to evaluate reflectivity of adding glass beads to painted signs as reported at the last Town Council meeting. The 2009 Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices has an exemption from many Federal standards for street signs in historic districts. Committee discussion noted the importance of address marking for individual homes and a proposal to prepare information and samples for the Town Meeting in May.
Neighborhood Watch etc: The Committee continues efforts to renew Neighborhood Watch and is in the process of contacting previous Neighborhood Watch participants. A 3-hour non-certificate CPR/AED training is scheduled in McCathran Hall on Saturday, April 22, 2017 starting at 1:00 pm. The cost is $10 per person(no cask, check only); register with Town Office. The Maryland Municipal League (MML) magazine for February contained a two-page article entitled “Tomorrow’s Disaster Requires Action Today”, The MML Summer Conference in Ocean City will include an Emergency Management Workshop.
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION – Audrey Maskery
F&B meeting took place on 8th March. Items discussed; spring planting; replacement of damaged American Sycamore on Grove Road; work schedule for Arbor Day, and fall planting. Arbor Day will be celebrated on April 29th 10:00am until 12:00pm. Forestry & Beautification meetings are held on the 2nd Wednesday each month. All are welcome!
MAINTENANCE – Audrey Maskery
Refurbished memorial bench on behalf of Dagnon family. Patched holes on Chestnut and Hickory roads with asphalt cold patch.
Removed snow from streets and Washington Grove Lane sidewalk during last snow storm. Replaced front brake calipers and general brake safety inspection on Town truck.
Disassembled Town Trac-Vac, and repaired impeller. Ready for final leaf pick-up.
Purchased second-hand utility truckster on behalf of Town. This will replace Steve’s personal truckster.
Purchased loads of soil and built berm to divert ground water in Wade Park. Planted area with Japanese Spurge Pachysandra to hold soil in place.
Removed leftover firewood from Wade Park not picked up by Town residents, to prevent grass damage.
Worked on drainage for swing set in children’s play area.
MEMORIALS – Audrey Maskery
A memorial bench has been placed outside McCathran Hall in memory of Donna Whetzel Dagnon a former resident of Washington Grove. The money for bench and plaque were donated by Robert M. Dagnon and family. The material used for the seat is Sassafras Sassafras albidum, a member of the Laurel family.
PLANNING COMMISSION – John McClelland
Building Permit Applications:
- 103 Grove Ave – Dormer extension approved
- 15 The Circle – A building permit which included a partial demolition was approved but contingent upon “final” HPC review/report. The property owner had previously met with the HPC to discuss the plans.
- 304 Chestnut Ave – Approved basement remodel plans (electric, plumbing) so MOCO permits, inspections and approval can be performed. Conditions were placed upon the property building permit based upon the previous intent of converting the single family residence into a three family residence. All cooking appliances have been removed.
Public Ways Permits:
- WSSC – Waste lines along Grove Ave and Ridge Rd to be improved/replaced from the current 6” diameter pipe to an 8”. The man hole on Cherry Ave is to be replaced as well.
- Proposed Town Border Identity Fence – Temporary wooden stakes will be placed along Washington Grove Ln to improve visualization of a potential fence.
House Files: 107 house files completed
- Three sites were presented although all were in the East Woods with two locations situated relatively close to residences and/or the Gazebo.
- Additional areas of the Town will be pursued in an attempt to minimize the potential negative impacts (noise, odor, parking etc) upon residents, property values, the environment etc.
- The Woods Committee will be consulted for their opinion on dog park impact IF located in the woods.
- The HPC will also be consulted – especially with the Town’s intent to broaden its historic designation to include the whole of the Town (including the woods and annexed properties).
- Further discussion will take place at the next PC meeting with suggestions to then be forwarded to the TC.
MCCATHRAN HALL – John McClelland
Nothing to report.
WOODS COMMITTEE – Greg Silber
Lake, Recreation, and Woods Committees have joined forces for a West Woods and lake clean-up event Saturday morning 29 April from 10:00-12:00. Pizza and refreshments provided starting at 1:00. (Rain date is 30 April, 11:00-2:00.)
The Committee will be holding an informational meeting Monday evening 24 April, 7:30 in the Town Hall, entitled “Forum for Saving the Woods”. The purpose is to discuss with Town residents the Committee’s activities and plans toward restoring and maintaining healthy Town woods. The focus of the meeting will be on deer population control options.
At its 3 April meeting, the Committee discussed plans for the upcoming informational meeting, reviewed the revised its proposed FY2018 budget, received updates on progress of the East Woods boundary survey and efforts to temporarily identify the West Woods property line along Washington Grove Lane.
The Committee will meet again on Monday 1 May, 7:30.
CONTRACTS – Greg Silber
Surveying and marking of the East Woods by Snider & Associates continues and will be completed sometime in May or sooner.
Contractor US Lawns was expected to complete leaf pick-up by 31 March, but leaf piles remained around Town after this date. Joli McCathran contacted the contractor and it was mutually-agreed this work will be completed within a week or so after the 31st.
Invasive non-native vegetation control work by Invasive Plant Control, Inc. is expected to commence in the East Woods this spring.
Recyclable yard waste pick up by Potomac Disposal resumed on 1 March. Bulk trash pick-up has been scheduled for Wednesday 17 May.
RECREATION – Shelley Winkler
A Maypole and Capture-the-Flag event for all ages is scheduled for noon on April 29 at Maple Lake, following the annual woods and lake cleanup that morning. Our dedicated Recreation Chair, Eve Zibart, has decided to retire as Recreation Chair as of the May Town Meeting. We thank her so much for serving as Chairperson, and applaud all of her work on her artfully named “Recking Crew”. We will miss her delightful news updates in the Town Bulletin. The new chair will be announced soon.
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Shelley Winkler
Any bids received in response to the RFP for spring road repairs will be opened at the April 10 Council meeting. Work will be starting to restore Second Avenue walkway.
WEBSITE – Shelley Winkler
We received a proposal from Bill Saar for importing various information from the old website, and appreciate his work to assemble the detailed information in the proposal. It will take a bit of time to respond to that proposal, and I will bring it to Council when we have a recommendation.
Volunteers Christine Dibble and Mimi Bolotin have started meeting with me on a regular basis to discuss reorganization of the information on the website. This is a lengthy process, and entails looking at each website page to determine where updates, re-editing or complete revision may be needed. It also involves presenting information in a manner which is easily accessible to the reader, such as how the information layout is presented on each page. When this process is completed, we plan to distribute a chart assigning Town officials and volunteers their respective website pages with a time schedule for keeping them current.
INTERGOVERNMENTAL – Joli A. McCathran
Intergovernmental: Although the Highway User Funding has been a the number one Maryland Municipal League priority for eight years, none of the five Highway User Funds bills passed the Maryland Legislature in the 2017 Legislative Session. The Legislature goes into Sine Die on Monday, April 10. This is a serious disappointment to the Town and other municipalities throughout the state.