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3 December 2014 | Approved: 7 January 2015

Chairman Challstrom called the meeting to order at 7:31 p.m. In attendance were commissioners Brenda Gumula, David Hix, John McClelland, Peter Nagrod, and Steve Werts. Also in attendance were Mayor Joli McCathran, Councilor Georgette Cole, HPC members Wendy Harris & Mimi Styles, Contractor Keith McCullough, Architect Ralph Hurst, Contractor Gene Eady and residents Joe Clark, Eva Polston and Jane Seegal.

Approval of Agenda

John McClelland moved, Steve Werts seconded, the agenda be approved. Chairman Challstrom added propane tanks and a request by the Mayor to review an unpermitted structure at 409 Chestnut Avenue to #11 Other Business. He also moved the Public Ways and Property Permit at 417 4th Avenue to an earlier place on the agenda. Approved: 5-0, as amended.

Approval of the Minutes

Brenda Gumula moved to approve the November minutes. Peter Nagrod seconded the motion. "A discussion ensued" was removed from two (2) places because it seemed unnecessary. Approved: 5-0.

Public Appearances

There were no Public Appearances.

Building Permit Applications

  • 417 4th Avenue – Kevin McCullough came on behalf of property owners Betty and Al Taylor. Charlie Challstrom reviewed the drainage problem and the proposed fix that requires digging on Town land known as 4th Avenue. This property is one (1) of three (3) like properties that are bisected by a walkway or a road owned by the Town. The Taylor’s out lot will be the drainage area. Brenda Gumula asked if Miss Utility had been called. There was a discussion about the following:

    • The inclusion of contacting Miss Utility to permit requirements
    • Width of 4th Avenue
    • Digging 10 inches deep on 4th Avenue
    • Location of water and sewer lines on 4th Avenue (below the freeze line)
    • Safety
    • Restoration
    • Liability – For example, Town crushes the pipe by accident, who is responsible? The conclusion was to add a line on the permit stating; "Town assumes no liability or responsibility" etc…
    • Use of concrete with this plan
    • Peter Nagrod moved to approve the Public Ways & Property Permit. Steve Werts seconded the motion. It was stated no bond would be needed for this permit. Approved: 5-0.
  • 203 2nd Avenue – Peter Nagrod commended the HPC for their thoughtful review. There was a discussion about the proposed height of the new construction, the original height of the home, and if a basement would be built. Jane Seegal presented a statement for the record (see Exhibit A). The statement requested the Commission deny the building permit for new construction if the resident chose to use propane as her source for heating. Chairman Challstrom explained the Commission could not do this as they do not regulate this item. The Commission discussed the height of the new construction and the height of 315 Grove Avenue. Ms. Seegal is concerned about a loss of light that could result from a taller new structure. The Commission concluded the proposed height of the new structure is within the allowable range for the height of a main building. HPC member Mimi Styles expressed concerns about the façade of the old home being preserved by using natural materials. There was additional discussion about propane tank safety, County law, and helping the County with property line delineation. Chairman Challstrom explained the PC approves the building permit application and the TC approve the permanent easement. Eva Polston asked if she could build the house minus the porch if the easement application was not approved. She was told she could. John McClelland said language about not increasing a non-compliance must be included.
    Peter Nagrod moved to approve the building permit for the construction of a new home at 203 2nd Avenue. John McClelland seconded the motion. Approved: 5-0.
  • 402 Grove Avenue: The Commission reviewed the building permit application. Peter Nagrod explained that all requirements were met with the exception of the HPC review. Chairman Challstrom said the HPC declined to review this project because the documentation was inadequate. Although the submission of this permit application met the PC deadline, it also brought to light there was no deadline for the HPC and they were having to review plans without the benefit of any lead time. Georgette Cole stated the HPC review process needs to be re-tooled to clarify what constitutes an early review and what is just a standard review on the front end of the process. Joe Clark expressed his frustration with the fact that he took great pains to assemble the correct documentation as stated in the Information for Applicants only to be told at the HPC meeting that his package was not adequate for review. He went on to say clarity and consistency are needed. The HPC will review the second set of plans that came in after the November HPC meeting. The PC will review this building permit application again at its meeting on January 7, 2015.

Permanent Easement Application

  • 203 2nd Avenue: Charlie Challstrom stated the permanent easement application packet is complete. The Commission reviewed the documents. The PC must now make a recommendation to the Town Council.
  • Brenda Gumula moved to forward to the Town Council a positive endorsement of the permanent easement application for the land on which a porch will be built at 203 2nd Avenue. Peter Nagrod seconded the motion. Approved: 5-0.

Public Ways and Property Permit Applications

  • 203 2nd Avenue: Charlie Challstrom presented the bond received for the Public Ways & Property Permit for 203 2nd Avenue. Peter Nagrod moved to approve the Public Ways & Property Permit for access on 2nd and Grove Avenues with the addition of language about protection and restoration. John McClelland seconded the motion. Approved: 5-0.
  • Jane Seegal (315 Grove Ave.) asked for a status on her permanent easement application. Mayor McCathran explained an HPC review was still in progress and documents specific to her request just arrived from the Town attorney today. 315 Grove Avenue will be addressed after the completion of the permanent easement application for 203 2nd Ave.
  • PEPCO/Improve Feeder Reliability Work/Replacement of 13 poles and other Upgrades: Steve Werts reported no issues with the pole replacement near 110 Grove Avenue. There was a brief discussion about the potential double pole situation. Steve Werts moved to approve the Public Ways & Property Permits for the PEPCO pole replacement jobs and associated equipment upgrades. Peter Nagrod seconded the motion. Both permits were approved: 5-0.

Application for Zoning Text Amendment Filed by the Planning Commission

Chairman Challstrom reported this effort is still in progress, however, feedback from the Town attorney is necessary in order to move forward.

Building Standards Compliance Checklist – Status Report

Brenda Gumula reported the group did some work on 124 Grove Avenue and on the Information for Applicants for Building Permits document. She distributed both the old and the new documents and asked the Commission to review them for a discussion at the January meeting.

Council Report

John McClelland reported the following from the November meeting of the Town Council:

  • The Mayor’s appointment of Cindy Frei to take Bill Robertson’s Council seat was unanimously approved
  • Suellen Ferguson continues to work on language for the permanent easement application process
  • A re-worked Town website is under consideration. Scope of work documents have been created and will be reviewed by the Council soon.
  • The Council is considering better signage for the woods and for Town fences.

Other Business

  • Chairman Challstrom reported Mayor McCathran asked the PC to have a discussion about a structure in the rear yard of 409 Chestnut Avenue. He reported the initial construction was builtwith no permit or approval but likely before the building permit requirement for a trellis was in place. That said, approximately one (1) foot of the initial structure is on Town land. The Commission struggled with a definition of the structure in question. Is it a trellis, an arbor, a deck? Now, a new "top" has been constructed and, when in use, also hangs over the property line. Property owner Ralph Hurst expressed to several PC members this "top" was a temporary structure and would be removed after a summer party. Steve Werts said there are other properties with patios on Town land and thinks the Town Council should look in to these situations as well. Mayor McCathran will write a letter asking for the removal of the newest addition to the structure (the "top") and be sure to make reference to the fact that the rear portion of the structure is on Town land.
  • Jane Seegal asked about a propane tank discussion. Charlie Challstrom stated this item was covered under the building permit applications agenda item earlier in the meeting. He suggested perhaps a meeting with the Montgomery County Fire Marshall might clarify the County standards for such an installation.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:40 p.m.

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