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27 March 2014 | Approved: 2 April 2014

Charlie Challstrom called the special meeting of the Planning Commission to order at 7:30 PM. In attendance were Commissioners Brenda Gumula, Peter Nagrod, Freda Temple, Steve Werts and David Young. Also present were residents Terry Cox, Ralph Hurst, Audrey Maskery, Joli McCathran, Carolyn & Bud O’Connor, Eva Polston, Ed Roberts, Bruce Rothrock, Jane Seegal, David Stopak, Mimi Styles, Sandy Styles, Mayor Georgette Cole, Historic Preservation Commission Chair Bob Booher and Town Attorney Suellen Ferguson.

Chairman Challstrom laid out the ground rules for the special meeting stating that it was not a public hearing, not open for public testimony and about one topic only;

  • reconstruction of buildings constructed in part on land owned by the Town of Washington Grove, specifically reconstruction of the home at 203 2nd Avenue.

He also stated that the objectives of the special meeting were to give guidance to Eva Polston (owner of 203 2nd Ave.) given the current situation and current ordinances, to formulate recommendations for the Town Council and to gain information and perspectives about the subject at hand. In this case, the options for the Town are as follows:

  1. License (revocable use agreement)
  2. Easement/Lease (long-term, 99 year)
  3. Fee simple transfer
  4. Rebuild only on private property

Some members of the Commission expressed concern that whatever was decided be thought of in global terms and not just for one home.

Town Attorney Suellen Ferguson defined the four (4) options. The Commission discussed each one at length. The question of adverse possession came up. Suellen summarized Maryland law; one cannot take land by adverse possession from the Sovereign (the Town). The Commission asked Suellen questions and discussed the following:

  • Implied consent
  • Non-compliance
  • Set backs
  • Boundary surveys & their accuracy
  • Non-square lots
  • Demolition permit (Town & County)
  • Conditions set forth on the demo permit in order to protect the neighbors
  • Performance bonds
  • Use of a Town Public Ways & Property Permit with demo
  • Fastest time possible for Town ordinance process (typically 2 months)
  • Sequence of events
  • Ordinance process

The Commission entered into a discussion about the pro’s and con’s of the four (4) options for both the Town and the resident. It seemed at this point that the Commission was favoring the Easement option and Suellen suggested that the current draft ordinance could be used as a starting point with the substitution of "easement" wherever "license" appeared. Suellen will prepare a draft easement ordinance.

Peter Nagrod moved to seek a next draft based on the concept of using an easement as the legal method of criteria granting use of Town property under certain specific circumstances. Brenda Gumula seconded the motion. Approved: 5-0.

The Commission committed to drafting conditions for the demolition permit at their next meeting on April 2, 2014.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:20 p.m.

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