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10 June 2000 | Approved: 9 June 2001

Mayor John Compton called the 64th Annual Town Meeting to order at 8:00 p.m. Gary Gordon was asked to give the invocation.

Approval of Minutes

It was moved that the Annual Town Meeting minutes of June 12, 1999 be approved. The motion was seconded and passed.

Mayor’s Report

Mayor Compton thanked Standing Committee members for their volunteer efforts, along with members of the Town Council, Planning Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals and Board of Election Supervisors. Mayor Compton noted many accomplishments by Grove volunteers:

  • Information on the Washington Grove Web Site continues to expand under webmaster George Paine
  • The Tree Advisory Committee chaired by Joli McCathran presented their report with recommendations for protecting the Grove’s residential area trees and forest into the future
  • The Town’s zoning ordinance was revised to give Town officials the ability to place conditions on development when a rezoning is requested. This will provide an opportunity to ensure greater compatibility between new and old development in the Grove
  • Zoning with conditions was granted to the owners of the former WSSC property along Ridge Road
  • Annexation of the Pammel property at 3 Ridge Road
  • Annexation of two Voigt parcels and the Washington Grove Hills subdivision on Ridge Road effective July 20, 2000
  • Placement of the Casey Farm on the County’s Legacy Open Space Program Appendix as a site for further study. Both the Sierra Club and the Maryland Alliance for Greenway Improvement and Conservation supported the Town in its effort to be considered for Legacy Open Space funding.

Other projects included dredging of the diving well at Maple Lake to enable reinstallation of the diving board; continued reforestation efforts with planting of 25 white oak saplings and ten larger ornamental trees; discussion about long-overdue renovation of Washington Grove Center, the Grove’s only commercial zone. Special events included: an 1873-inspired baseball game held to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the Grove; a Millenium party held on New Year’s Eve; the Mousetrap Concert Series revived by Tanya Anisimova, Ann Briggs and Alice Negin; and the publication of Phil Edward’s second volume of Grove History, Washington Grove 1937-1977. Mayor Compton thanked Gail Littlefield for successfully coordinating the Annual Town Meeting sales effort for Phil’s book.

Actions and projects for the coming year include:

  • Adoption of policy on memorials
  • Subdivision of the WSSC property on Ridge Road (zoning with conditions)
  • Additions to playground equipment as part of a multi-year project to replace outdated equipment
  • East Diamond Avenue corridor as a gateway connecting Gaithersburg and Washington Grove/development of Williams Feed property and enforcement of truck traffic
  • Retain the services of an arborist for advice on preserving and maintaining trees throughout Town
  • Hire Jenny Long to act as Hall Scheduler to manage the increased use of McCathran Hall
  • Appoint a committee to review commercial uses at the Washington Grove Center, examining enforcement options and opportunities for renovation; possible use of Town’s zoning with conditions to help create a commercial zone to the Town’s liking
  • Hire Jenny Long to act as Hall Scheduler to manage the increased use of McCathran Hall
  • Work to further the Town’s historic preservation goals
  • Refurbishment of McCathran Hall windows
  • Install new fencing around hard tennis court
  • Continue regraveling of Town walkways.

The Mayor stated that the Town’s financial condition is excellent. Beginning in July 2000, Montgomery County will collect Town taxes at no charge to the Town.

The Mayor gave special thanks to retiring Town Councilor Carol Uhlendorf for 17 years of service and announced her appointment as Town Council liaison to the Maryland Municipal League for next year. The Mayor also thanked street light czarina Vicki Erhart.

Citizens expressed concern about the following topics:

  • Pedestrian and vehicular safety at the Railroad Street/Grove Road intersection. Traffic speed is high and visibility poor endangering people crossing to and from the MARC train station and vehicles exiting the Grove
  • Number of potential houses in the soon-to-be-annexed Washington Grove Hills area and the Town’s responsibility to provide water and sewer service
  • If the Casey Farm is eligible for Legacy Open Space funds, caution should be exercised because some uses for the property (e.g. lighted ballfields) might be less desirable than residential use
  • Status of the Town’s archival efforts
  • Effectiveness of gypsy moth spraying by State of Maryland.

Memorials Policy

Councilor Paris Pacchione presented a draft Memorials Policy stating that the policy is intended to protect the Town’s common areas without being overly bureaucratic. Comments are sought on the proposed policy which will be reviewed and adopted by the Town Council in the coming months.

Action on FY2001 Budget and Tax Rate

A motion was made and seconded to adopt the budget as recommended by the Council, setting the tax rate at $.60/$100. It was stressed that volunteers are critical to holding down expenditures. The motion to adopt the budget was approved.

New Business

Kristin Perry, 202 Grove Avenue, presented testimony proposing that the Town enact a law requiring a demolition permit before owners of historic homes listed on the National Register can tear down their houses. Ms. Perry stated that she would like to see the Town have a Historic District Commission but believes that requiring a demolition permit would be a step in the right direction because of immediate threats to historic structures. Mayor Compton reported that the Planning Commission has discussed ways to protect historic facades. He said that he would be willing to appoint a group to thoroughly examine preservation options and return to the Town with specific choices. Don McCathran, George Paine and Ed Roberts among others supported the formation of a study group. Don McCathran said that the National Register designation did not list specific structures. Charlie Challstrom supported using tax credits and other positive incentives to encourage preservation. Ed Roberts stated that outside expertise from the State and County should be used to evaluate preservation projects. Leila Keese suggested that interested parties combine forces to buy historic properties threatened with demolition for restoration and resale. The Mayor will appoint a study group to report on preservation options at next year’s Town Meeting.

Election Results

Board of Supervisors of Elections member Nancy McCullough announced the following election results:

  • Mayor: (1-yr term) John G. Compton 57 – elected
  • Council: (3-yr term) Darrell E. Anderson 61 – elected
  • (3-yr term) Nicholas P. Suzich 59 – elected

The meeting was adjourned at 10:42 p.m.

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