301-926-2256 [email protected]

18 April 2017 | Approved: 16 May 2017

Members Present: Bob Booher, Wendy Harris, Gail Littlefield, David Stopak and Mimi Styles, along with Georgette Cole, Town Council Liaison, and Cynthia Werts. Also in attendance was Taunton Paine, Town resident, along with his contractor, David Weimer of Rocky Gorge Construction. The meeting was called to order at 7:35 pm.

Approval of Agenda:

The agenda was reviewed and approved, as amended.

Adoption of Minutes:

The draft minutes from the meeting of March 21, 2017, were reviewed with two changes. Gail made a motion, seconded by David, to approve the minutes, as amended. The motion carried unanimously.

Review Session:

Taunton Paine attended the meeting to present and review final plan documentation submitted with his building permit application for #15 The Circle. The HPC had previously prepared an Early Consultation for the proposed project on January 30, 2017. In reviewing the final plans, the HPC found no changes that would require further comment or written review; therefore, the Commission’s review, dated January 30th, will be considered the final review for this proposed project.

The HPC will also begin preparation of documentation on the historic integrity features description (Exhibit C) for the permanent easement application process. Mimi has agreed to work with Gail on the research, and Bob has agreed to format the documentation. Taunton stated that he hopes to have the house ready to go on the market sometime in mid 2017, so it will be beneficial to have the permanent easement resolved by then.

Expansion of National Register nomination:

The HPC prepared and submitted a letter with justification to the Mayor and Town Council prior to the budget work session, held on March 27th, for everyone to have time to read and better understand how crucial it is to move forward with the NR nomination. At the budget work session, the Council approved the requested amount of $30,000.00 submitted by the HPC for the expansion of the NR; however, the amount will be divided over a two-year period, with $15,000.00 put in the FY 2017-18 budget, and $15,000.00 put aside for the FY 2018-19 budget.

Gail and Wendy have agreed to get together to draw up a list of important points that will need to be discussed and agreed upon by the Commission before moving forward with the project. Wendy has also volunteered to write a scope of work in preparation of a Request for Proposal. This topic will be added to next month’s agenda.

Street Signs:

Gail gave an update on the continued research that has been collected by the Work Group on options for wood materials and reflective lettering that could be used on the Town’s street and walkway signs. Because of the Town’s historical status, it is exempt from the design specifications provided by the Federal Highway Administration; therefore, the continued use of wooden signs would be allowed. However, it is very important that the Town achieve some balance with respect to areas of improvement recommended by the Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service and subsequently by the Washington Grove Emergency Preparedness Task Force. Gail contacted Battalion Chief John P. Van Gieson of the MCFRS. A copy of the Post Incident Analysis for the house fire that occurred at 203 2nd Avenue on January 14, 2014, was provided for review. The responding unit had a difficult time locating and navigating their way in the Town, and, it was noted that street signs were small and difficult to read. In the report, MCFRS made the following recommendations regarding the Town’s street signs:

  • Street signs be changed from small wooded signs to standard metal street signs
  • Reflective disks or tape be affixed to street sign posts, as well as walkway posts

Gail will attend the Emergency Preparedness Committee meeting on Thursday, April 20th, to discuss safety issues and inform the committee on the research that has been done by the Work Group regarding street signage. She will also prepare an updated report with information for the Mayor and Town Council to review at their next meeting.

Bulletin Material:

Wendy reported that Part 2 of the article, Our Woods and Walkways: Are they Historic?, would appear in the next Town bulletin.

Renovation Award:

The Commission reviewed and discussed the list of properties for consideration of the 2017 WG Preservation Award. The vote was unanimous to present the award to 203 2nd Avenue (Eva Polston) for construction of a new house. The award will be presented at the annual Town Meeting in May.

Website Review:

Bill Saar has submitted a proposal involving changes to the Town’s website, some of which involve how HPC materials are accessed on the new website. As Town Council Liaison for the website, Shelly Winkler has asked if the HPC would have any objection to having house histories and HPC reviews being accessed on the new website via a link to the old website.

This would involve one extra click to access this information. The Commission agreed that as long as it is kept simple and easily accessible, they would have no objections to this change.

Bill also proposes to use January 1, 2017, as a default “publish date” for each house history when/if the information is imported to the new WordPress Site. The HPC came to an agreement that this proposed option is unacceptable. The House Histories were originally assembled by Clare Kelly, and on the current site, there is no “publish date” ascribed to the house histories.

Council Report:

Georgette gave a brief overview of topics discussed at the recent Town Council meeting. She reported that she has officially resigned from the Council and will no longer be the Liaison for the HPC after the April 2017 meeting. Georgette also noted that she has now been appointed an alternate for the Planning Commission. Debbie Mehlferber, who was the alternate, will fill the permanent position that became available when Brenda Gumula resigned at the last PC meeting.

There was further discussion on the proposed Dog Park, with one potential site in the East Woods on Cherry Avenue extended. There is much concern as to whether a dog park should be placed in the woods, and, the Council concluded that the Woods Group and HPC should be consulted before moving forward with any consideration of a site location in either of the Town forests.

There was also discussion regarding an error in dimensions noted in Exhibit C to the Deed of Easement for 409 5th Avenue (O’Connor Residence). Minimal change has been made to the description, and, the Mayor will send the final version to Bob for approval. Otherwise, everything else will remain the same in the document. Once the correction has been made, the O’Connor’s will be asked to sign the amended easement.

PC Report:

Georgette reported that building permits were approved for 103 Grove Avenue (Sandy Klingenberg) for a dormer extension, and 304 Chestnut Avenue (Jason Newman) provided all cooking utilities are removed from the rooms that will be rented.

A building permit application was also submitted for #15 The Circle for modification and repair to the existing structure. An Early Consultation was prepared by the HPC on January 30, 2017, and it was submitted with the application for review. The PC approved the permit conditionally providing the HPC finalizes their approval at their April 18th meeting.

With no further business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned at 10:10 pm.

Minutes prepared and submitted by: Cynthia Werts

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