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2 July 2014 | Approved: 6 August 2014

Chairman Challstrom called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were commissioners Brenda Gumula, David Hix, John McClelland and Peter Nagrod. Also in attendance were Mayor Joli McCathran, Councilor Georgette Cole, HPC member Gail Littlefield, and residents Joe Clark, Keith Gillis, Leigh Partington, Bruce Rothrock and Jim Snyder. Jane Seegal arrived at 8:00PM.

Annual Election of Chairman

John McClelland moved to nominate Charlie Challstrom for Chairman of the Commission. Brenda Gumula seconded the motion. Approved: 5-0.

Approval of Agenda

Peter Nagrod moved, Brenda Gumula seconded, that the agenda be approved. Chairman Challstrom noted that two (2) additional Public Ways & Property Permits from PEPCO had arrived. Brenda Gumula suggested with an agenda this long, perhaps the use of time limits was in order. The Commission agreed. Approved: 5-0.

Approval of the Minutes

John McClelland moved, Peter Nagrod seconded, that the Planning Commission minutes for June 4, 2014 be approved. A few changes were made. Approved: 5-0; as amended.

Public Appearances

Keith Gillis and Leigh Partington came to ask if a building permit from the Town was required for a kitchen renovation with no change to the existing footprint of the home. Their contractor will get all necessary permits from Montgomery County. Because three (3) old windows were going to be removed from the enclosed back porch, it was suggested that they go to the Historic Preservation Commission for comments/ideas. The consensus of the Commission was that no approval from the Town would be required for the renovation.

Proposed Rules for Expedited Review of Permit Applications

Charlie Challstrom presented a draft “Expedited Review” document that he created. Brenda Gumula stated she thought item #3 was handled by the Public Ways & Property Permit. The Commission discussed what constituted an emergency, sign-off requirements, language in Article V of the Town code, calling special meetings vs. e-mail discussions, potential problems with the Open Meetings law, gearing this type of permit to Health & Safety, reasonable public notice and the use of the Town Grove Alert system. The Commission decided to use Charlie’s draft as a concept and continue working on the language. Gail Littlefield expressed HPC concerns about utility work in terms of the cultural aspects of the Town.

Building Permit Applications

346 Ridge Road – Handicapped Ramps/Front & Rear: The Commission briefly discussed this permit application which was approved on an emergency basis by Chairman Challstrom on June 12, 2014.

201 Maple Road – Extend and Enclose Carport

Jim Snyder withdrew previous submissions, revised the third permit application and the new version is up for approval. Peter Nagrod reported he reviewed the plans and explained his understanding of them. There was a discussion about non-compliance, connecting the new structure to the main building and the interpretation of Article VII, Section 4.32. There is no boundary survey but all points were found by Steve Werts and Charlie Challstrom. The Commission will approve this submission upon the receipt of an HPC review.

402 Grove Avenue

There were three (3) permits up for approval for this property.

  • Fence – Joe Clark explained the need for the fence; the shed that once acted as a fence is being removed, therefore, two (2) sections of fencing need to go it its place. Peter Nagrod moved, Brenda Gumula seconded, that the fence permit for 402 Grove Avenue be approved. Approved: 5-0.
  • Shed Removal – Peter Nagrod moved, David Hix seconded, that the permit for shed removal at 402 Grove Avenue be approved. Approval: 5-0.
  • Pergola – After a brief discussion about height, Joe Clark withdrew the permit for a pergola.

207 Grove Avenue

Peter Nagrod moved, David Hix seconded, that the permit for a shed at 207 Grove Avenue be approved. Approved: 5-0.

Public Ways and Property Permits

407 Acorn Lane: Chairman Challstrom gave a brief history of the proposed project. Resident Bruce Rothrock stated the contractor will start on Monday, July 21, 2014. The contractor will do the excavation and cleaning. The property owner will do the backfill and curbing. The project should take approximately four (4) days. Bruce explained that Johnson Alley would have to be closed at times and he specifically discussed appropriate arrangements with Sarah Steel (411 Grove Ave.) about access to her home. John McClelland asked if a road bond was necessary. A discussion about road bonds, letters of credit and protection of the public land ensued. Bruce will be required to get some sort of bond or financial security letter for this project. Gail expressed concerns about the lack of an HPC review and the historic integrity of the Town. Bruce will go back and research the requirements necessary for the protection of Town property. The item was tabled until a time uncertain.
PEPCO: The Commission reviewed a second Public Ways & Property Permit for the Deer Park Bridge/CSX project. The first permit was previously reviewed but not yet approved. Brenda Gumula moved, John McClelland seconded, that both Public Ways & Property Permits for PEPCO be approved. Approved: 5-0.

Permanent Easement Process as per Ordinance 2014-03

Upon review, the Commission determined more clarity was needed for the following;

  • The responsible party for specific costs; surveying, preparation and review of legal documents
  • The possibility of multiple surveys arranged by a volunteer, not Town sponsored.
  • Plat identification language.
  • For whom the process is being written (TC after PC advice).
  • The role of the Historic Preservation Commission.
  • Adequacy of intent to maintain historic integrity.

They also discussed taking before and after pictures, use of a form vs. a letter of request, an exit mechanism and time schedules. Jane Seegal commented this was a great improvement but still does not address her shed (accessory building). Chairman Challstrom said accessory buildings are an issue that should be tackled with another document.

Adding Height Element to Non-Compliance in Zoning Ordinance

To clarify Article VII Section 5.32 and reflect past Planning Commission minutes and position, John McClelland suggested the addition of “height” to the current ordinance governing non-compliance. A discussion ensued. The following new language will be added as (c) to Article VII, Section 5.32 Definition of Degree of Non-Compliance; (c) no increase of height for the non-complying portion of the structure. This proposed change is a Zoning Text Amendment which involves an expense for advertising. In order to get the most for our money with the advertising expense, Chairman Challstrom suggested the removal of Article 3.327. After a brief discussion about Article 3.327, it became clear that further review and discussion are necessary. Chairman Challstrom also recommended an examination of other ordinances for possible revisions as well. These potential ordinance changes will be discussed at the August meeting.

Building Standards Compliance Checklist

Brenda Gumula reported work on this continues. She also brought up the idea of scanning each one of these lists and keeping an electronic file. The next Worksession will be on Monday, July 21, 2014 at 10:00AM.

Council Report

John McClelland reported that the Mayor’s appointments to the HPC, BZA and PC were approved and Ordinance 2014-03 passed. He also reported 304 Chestnut Avenue is in foreclosure and the resident is not concerned about the knee-high grass on the property. The resident instructed Mr. McClelland that anyone could cut the grass if they desired.

Other Business

There was none.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:15 p.m.

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