14 November 2016 | Approved: 12 December 2016
Mayor Joli McCathran called the meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:32 p.m. In attendance were Council Members Georgette Cole, Patrice Klein, Audrey Maskery, John McClelland, Greg Silber and Shelley Winkler. Also present were Treasurer Mary Challstrom, Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts, Woods Committee Co-Chair Joan Mahaffey, residents Charlie Challstrom, Bruce Crise, John Hutchinson, new resident Mickey Minnick, and property owner Dennis Kane. Mr. Bob Diss from the accounting firm Lindsay & Associates was also in attendance.
Approval of Agenda:
Shelley Winkler moved to approve the agenda. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. Vote: Approved 6-0.
Presentation of Audit Report:
Mayor McCathran welcomed Bob Diss from Lindsay & Associates to the meeting. Bob addressed the Mayor and Council, highlighted particular areas of the report and explained changes from the previous year. The opinion letter from Lindsay & Associates is clean, which is the highest rating available. Bob took some questions from the Town Council. The Mayor gave “kudos” to Treasurer Mary Challstrom for her work on preparing the documents for the Town audit.
Bruce Crise (208 Chestnut Ave.) Bruce reported he does a large amount of weed and plant remediation in the Town woods. He explained his methods and commented on a recent infection he contracted due to a barberry thorn stick in his hand. Bruce asked the Council to consider purchasing a tool called a “Weed Wrench” to assist in his and others’ efforts to remove non-native invasive plants from our woods. The Woods Committee has been working on this purchase and will follow up with Bruce.
Approval of Minutes:
Georgette Cole moved to approve the minutes of the Town Council meeting on October 5, 2016 and post them to the website. John McClelland seconded the motion. Vote: Approved as amended, 6-0.
Treasurers Report 2016-October pdf
Greg Silber moved to accept the Treasurer’s Report for October 2016. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Treasurer Mary Challstrom fielded a few questions from the Council about the report. Vote: Accepted 6-0.
Georgette Cole moved to transfer $20K from savings to checking in order to pay bills. Patrice Klein seconded the motion. Vote: Approved 6-0.
Open Sealed Bids – Re-Subdivision and Marking Boundary of East Woods:
The following two (2) bids were opened:
- Snider & Associates – $14,700.00
- Survey Associates – $14,700.00
The Council reviewed both responses. There were some inconsistencies. One bidder included no references and one bidder required a 100-year title search at the Town’s expense. Further research is needed. After some follow up by the Mayor and the bidders, bids will be considered at the Council’s December meeting.
John Hutchinson directed the Mayor and Council’s attention to the Lake Committee information in the Council Reports. He explained an incident this summer where a resident encountered a rock shelf when diving 90 degrees out to the left off the diving board, beyond the usual diving area. Hutch explained the actions taken immediately to better ensure public safety, including warning buoys permanently anchored above the rock shelf. Hutch also suggested placing signs about the diving area on the dock. The Mayor and Council approved the suggestion of the Lake Committee. Buoy markers and a sign directing divers to dive straight off the board will be installed by the next swimming season.
Resolution 2016-11 – Application for Permanent Easement – 409 5th Avenue:
Mayor McCathran explained the documents pertaining to this easement. John McClelland moved to introduce Resolution 2016-11; Resolution Granting a Permanent Easement, as presented. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. Shelley Winkler expressed some concern about a few terms in the accompanying Deed of Easement and Agreement which she perceived might limit the Town’s options. Vote: Approved 6-0.
Georgette Cole moved to approve the Deed of Easement and Agreement between the Town and the O’Connor’s (409 5th Avenue) with the removal of the word “other” from Paragraph 2, third sentence. Patrice Klein seconded the motion. The Clerk took the following roll call vote: Georgette Cole – Aye; Patrice Klein – Aye; Audrey Maskery – Aye; John McClelland – Aye; Greg Silber – Aye; Greg Silber – Aye; Shelley Winkler – Aye.
John McClelland brought up the idea of asking the Historic Preservation Commission to complete the easement reviews for all eligible properties in order to be prepared for other applications for permanent easement. The Mayor and Council thought this was a good idea. Georgette Cole will take this to the Historic Preservation Commission.
Action on ZTA 2016-10:
John McClelland moved to adopt Ordinance (ZTA) 2016-10; Adopting Amendments To Article VII, Zoning, Section 8.21 To Allow Charitable, Religious or Educational Institutions in the Commercial Zone as a Special Exception Approved by the Board Of Zoning Appeals. Greg Silber seconded the motion. The Clerk took the following roll call vote: Georgette Cole – Aye; Patrice Klein – Aye; Audrey Maskery – Aye; John McClelland – Aye; Greg Silber – Aye; Greg Silber – Aye; Shelley Winkler – Aye.
Charter Resolution 2016-12 – Procurement:
Mayor McCathran gave the background for this proposed change to the Town Charter. John McClelland moved to introduce Resolution 2016-12. Patrice Klein seconded the motion. Vote: Approved 6-0.
Shelley Winkler moved to approve the Council Reports for posting on the web. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. The Council discussed:
- A meeting with Joe Corona, Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, the Mayor, TC liaison Pat Klein, and Sat Amagai, Chair, Emergency Preparedness Committee, about county and state emergency preparedness plans
- Unauthorized commuter parking on Town land near Brown Street and Grove Road
- Parking on tree roots
- Asking the PC to do additional research and study of parking problems in Town
- Vote: 6-0, approved as amended.
Mayor McCathran announced the trampoline and tire swing installed on Town land in the Saybrooke neighborhood have been removed. However, the stone wall and other debris behind 7 St. Ives Place remain. She talked with Mr. Krebs (7 St. Ives Place) who said he was going to remove these items. The Mayor will monitor the situation.
Shelley Winkler requested legal documents for review, coming from the Town attorney, to be sent out sooner than the Friday prior to the Council meeting. This would allow the Council more time to review such documents and ask the Mayor questions prior to the meeting. The Mayor will ask for earlier dates to receive such documents.
Shelley Winkler also brought up the growing industry of used car lots on Oakmont Avenue. There was a brief discussion about zoning, allowable uses and filing a complaint with Montgomery County. The Mayor offered to contact Montgomery County about the current zoning.
There being no further new business, the meeting adjourned at 11:00 p.m.
TC REPORTS – December 2016
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – Georgette Cole
Archives – Monthly Report: The Commission reviewed an update received from Pat Patula on the progress of archival work done in September 2016:
- Records Management Plan: Progress is being made, however, somewhat slow. Work is still being done with the State Archives to finalize revisions. Marilynn Frey, the Town’s Records Management Officer, and Town Clerk Kathy Lehman have been a tremendous help in providing the necessary guidance and answers to the many questions on the inventories.
- Prisoner of War Pillars: No additional information has been received on this project. The pillars are located at the historic site where Camp Gaithersburg was located during World War II.
- Town Bulletin: Pat and Wendy continue to prepare articles for the series devoted to Washington Grove’s earliest days based on historical newspaper articles and original records in the Grove’s archives.
- Administrative Work: Documents are still being scanned as needed. The State Archives has requested us to include our indexing system on the Plan itself in addition to referencing it on the inventory sheets.
Gail questioned as to whether the Town had purchased a new scanner. It was a budgeted item under supplies and archival equipment for FY2016, however, it appears that the old scanner is still being used. Gail will email Pat to get an update on this purchase. Gail also suggested that there should be some type of cross-reference system in place for making all the house history files and materials, including easement reports, more accessible to those parties interested in the doing research on the Town’s historic houses.
Bulletin Material: Pat has prepared the next article, “Romance and Religion, Part Two” which will appear in the December Town bulletin. Part One of this series was published in the November issue.
Guidelines Review: The Commission continued the discussion of HP design guidelines from surrounding jurisdictions that have architectural similarities to Washington Grove. Bob had previously distributed material from other historical communities on their construction and preservation rules. One example of guidelines for review is Martha’s Vineyard. Commission members will review this material and have further discussion on the topic at next month’s meeting.
New Business: As Town Council Liaison, Georgette was asked to approach the HPC on the subject of permanent easements for houses constructed in part on land owned by the Town. To date, the HPC has prepared documentation on the historic integrity features description for three of the eight properties that apply (203 2nd Ave., 409 5th Ave. and 315 Grove Ave.). The PC has suggested to the TC that it would be very beneficial to have the HPC prepare documentation for the other five houses for future reference. The following properties would apply: #1 Circle, #2 Circle, #13 Circle, #15 Circle and #17 Circle. The Commission has agreed to put this project on a future agenda for further discussion.
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 underwater obstructions outside of the diving area were marked with 3 buoys and some poles, and the lake was refilled in early November. The AED unit for the lake will be purchased and installed before the lake opens next season.
The Lake Committee is on break for the winter. The next meeting will be on March 16, 2017.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS– Patrice Klein
The first meeting of the Emergency Preparedness Committee will be on December 15, 2016 at 7:30 PM in the Town Council Room. Sat Amagai is the Chair. Members are Nan Aitel-Thompson, David Cosson, Keith Gillis, Jason Newman, Mary Warfield, and Pat Klein.
SAFETY – Patrice Klein
The AED unit for the Town Hall was purchased and received. The Town must designate an AED Coordinator who would arrange for training, complete the registration with MIEMSS, and be certain the inspection system is in place. The TC liaison will work with the Emergency Preparedness Committee to identify the AED Coordinator. In addition, one of the follow up items from our meeting with Mr. Corona (Montgomery County DHS) is to schedule CPR/AED training for Town residents.
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION – Audrey Maskery
One (1) oak in Chapel Park removed after consultation with Bill Bond, registered forester. The oak was in rapid decline, for safety reasons it was decided to remove the tree.
Tree pruning has finished for this year; the program will start in 2017 when each tree has fully leafed out.
MAINTENANCE – Audrey Maskery
- Top soil, and sod 3000 sq. ft. laid between Cherry Avenue and Maple Road, a heavily eroded area.
- The last round of tree watering completed for 2016; the watering will commence late spring 2017; the water meter returned to WSSC.
- Leaf pick-up finished, the bulk of leaves will be dumped in the East Woods to slow down growth of Mile-a-minute and build up the soil.
- Work continues on playground area, new timbers, and wood chips placed around equipment.
- Rented an auger for the Woods Committee tree planting, 30 trees planted in the East Woods.
- Sand purchased and stored for winter road dressing.
- Town truck now sports new bed, providing additional life expectancy for the vehicle.
MEMORIALS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report.
PLANNING COMMISSION – John McClelland
Building Permit Applications:
- 210 Brown St – Fence. Denied as no boundary survey submitted
- 112 Chestnut Ave – Fence. BZA hearing for height exception scheduled for Dec 17, 2016
- 208 Chestnut Ave – Possible Addition. Preliminary discussion regarding an attached or detached garage including living space. Single residence zoning, the limitations on “in-law suites”, multiple kitchens with ovens were discussed. The applicable ordinances will be provided to the residents.
- 8 The Circle – No Permit submitted. Reports of the addition of stairs, enclosing an area under a bay window and a screened enclosure were examined. The resident stated she is installing stairs under 3” in height and off the property line, the lattice is not attached to the bay window and has been removed, and a portable “gazebo” does not currently have screening. PC members will visit the site to understand what is taking place.
House Files: 84 properties completed
Border Committee: Initial meeting set goals and developed a rough framework towards improving the visual “entrances” to the Town – primarily along Washington Grove Lane and Railroad St while incorporating the residents from Daylily Ln, Boundary St and the “Cator property”.
Second Ave Restoration: Snyder and Associates will be contacted to hopefully attain the work sheet for this Avenue so the exact avenue borders can be established. Gravel will then be distributed by Town Maintenance.
Morgan Park Parking: A block survey to establish Town property and road easements along the “park side” of Brown St and Grove Rd etc. is under consideration. This survey would assist the Town in addressing potential overflow parking issues from Marc train commuters. CSX will be contacted as they previously mentioned a plan to update parking for the Washington Grove stop.
MCCATHRAN HALL – John McClelland
Alarm: Standard phone line connections were restored due to alarm system requirements that could not be handled by the recently installed VOIP telephone connectivity.
WOODS COMMITTEE – Greg Silber
Bids to survey and mark the eastern boundary of the East Woods and associated areas were reviewed by the Council at its 14 November meeting. A decision was made to seek additional information from bidders (only two were received). The new information and bids will be reviewed at the Council’s December meeting.
A request for proposals for large-scale and multi-year work to remove and control non-native, invasive plant species in the East Woods has been distributed. The Council will review bids at its 12 December meeting.
On Friday 18 November, 30 small trees (5 Hackberries, 5 White Oaks, 5 Pin Oaks, 5 Red Maples, 5 Serviceberry, and 5 Redbuds) were planted in the East Woods near Maple Avenue extended. Volunteer turnout for this planting project was outstanding! Many thanks to Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Montgomery County Forestry Board for providing the trees.
The Committee will meet again on Monday 2 January, 7:30.
CONTRACTS – Greg Silber
Leaf pick-up is underway and continues through early January. The contractor, Green Earth, has been in Town a number of times and appears to be doing quite a thorough job thus far. Recyclable yard waste collection ends 31 December.
RECREATION – Shelley Winkler
The hall is decorated thanks to volunteers. The Holiday Show was held on December 10th, also thanks to many volunteers — and above all to Judy Mroczka, who volunteered to direct and coordinate the entire production. A contra dance is scheduled for Saturday evening, February 4, 2017, with a well-known area caller and musicians (after requests were received to repeat the successful dance last held in the fall of 2014).
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Shelley Winkler
We have begun work on the RFP for spring road repairs, focusing on the part of Brown Street from Ridge Road to just before Maple Road (including repair of a soft spot in that area), and on a part of Center Street between Grove Road and McCathran Hall.
WEBSITE – Shelley Winkler
Councilmembers, please continue to review, or ask commissions/committees you work with to review, portions of the website relating to your areas and send to me any items that need correction or changes.
INTERGOVERNMENTAL – Joli A. McCathran
Over the past month, I met with Patricia Shepherd, AICP, Capital Projects Manager/Bikeways Coordinator, with Montgomery County Department of Transportation. We did site visit for possible bicycle paths near or within Washington Grove. I encouraged Ms. Shephard to consider other locations. Ms. Shepherd is to discuss options with her supervisor. This meeting is scheduled for December 16, 2016.
Ms. Shepherd checked with a colleague on the Facility Planning Transportation CIP to confirm the Oakmont Avenue Facility Planning Study timetable. Oakmont Avenue is not included as a candidate project in Facility Planning. However, funds are allocated in the Bikeways Program for the Washington Grove Connector in FY 18 beginning July 1, 2017.
I was asked by the Maryland Mayor’s Association President John Miller, Burgess, Middletown, Maryland, to fill the position of Corresponding Secretary for this association. I am honored to accept this position.