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6 March 2019 | Approved: 3 April 2019

Peter Nagrod called the meeting to order at 7:31 p.m. In attendance were Commissioners Charlie Challstrom, Jon Cohen, Georgette Cole, Dave Hix, and Deb Mehlferber. Historic Preservation Commission Chair Bob Booher was in attendance. Also present were residents Robert Johnson, John McClelland, and Mimi Styles.

Approval of Agenda:

Georgette Cole moved to approve the agenda. Dave Hix seconded the motion. The Committee added proposed work at 125 Grove Avenue and a proposed fence between 405 and 407 Chestnut Avenue. Approved: 5-0, as amended.

Building Permit Applications:

3 Ridge Road – Screening Side Porch: This project proposes no change in the footprint of the building and is located a good distance away from the property line. Dave Hix moved to approve the building permit for screening the side porch at 3 Ridge Road. Peter Nagrod seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0.

Public Appearances:

John McClelland came to discuss the following three (3) items:
1. Article VII (Zoning), Section 11.311 (Board of Zoning Appeals, Notice of Hearing) – He asked the Commission to consider a modification of this item. He feels the notification requirements are too narrow and he would like to expand the notification to all tenants in the Commercial Corner. There was a discussion about the current notification requirements. The Commission agreed that all should be notified.
2. Article VII (Zoning), Section 8.2 (Use Regulations) – John believes the Art Studio which was allowed to set up across the hall from his insurance offices should have been vetted through the Commission and, perhaps, be required to get a Special Exception. The Town should protect the tenants from noxious fumes, chemicals, smells, etc. John does not think this use falls under the uses allowed in the ordinance.
3. Article XI (Commercial Regulations), Section 2 (Business License) – John expressed concerns about enforcement language. There was a discussion about the following:

  • Tenants options when the BZA grants a use that doesn’t appear on the list of allowed uses.
  • How the business license serves as the enforcement mechanism.
  • Lack of a compromise from the church about noise.
  • False testimony about the number of parking spaces at the Commercial Corner.
  • The need for a “Sunset Clause” or expiration date for an application.
  • Use of the Variance Process.
  • Making all applications for the Commercial Corner (not just those who have been denied a building permit) go through the PC first.
  • Include the Mayor for a higher level of review.

Approval of Minutes:

Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the February minutes. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. There were three (3) small changes. Vote: 5-0, as amended.

Results of Public Hearing – Board of Zoning Appeals – Request for Special Exception at 105 Washington Grove Lane:

On February 23rd the BZA granted the request for Special Exception from Movimiento Pentecostal Rios de Agua Viva, Inc. for use of 105 Washington Grove Lane as a place of worship (church).

Reminder – Public Hearings on March 11, 2019 at 7:00 PM for the Following Ordinances:

  • Ordinance 2019-01; Deleting and Adding Definitions to Section 4.2 (Definitions) in Article VII (Zoning)
  • Ordinance 2019-02; Amending Article IV (Building Permit Regulations)
  • Ordinance 2019-03; Authorizing the Sale of Land Occupied by a Main Building at 315 Grove Avenue Initially Constructed in Part on Land Owned by the Town of Washington Grove.

Charlie Challstrom moved to present an opinion memo to the Town Council recommending enactment of Ordinances 2019-01 & 2019-02. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0.

Charlie Challstrom referenced a memo from the last PC meeting. He is awaiting clarification from the Town attorney about section E.3. After much discussion the Commission agreed to recommend the following changes to the language in question:

  • E.2 – Remove “property may not be combined with adjoining land” and add “conveyed land may not be used.” Remove “for purposes of erecting or replacing any structure.”
  • E.3 – Remove entirely.

Georgette Cole moved the Planning Commission suggest E.2 be re-worded for clarity and E.3 be removed entirely. Dave Hix seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0.

Report from Town Council:

Charlie Challstrom reported the following:
Ordinary Maintenance and Repairs Ordinances – Ordinance 2019-01 (Zoning Text Amendment) and Ordinance 2019-02 (Building Permit Regulations) were introduced by the Town Council as endorsed by the PC. The public hearings for these ordinances will be on March 11.

Sale of Town Land under 315 Grove Ave – The earlier Ordinance 2018-11 to authorize sale of Town land was withdrawn. A new Ordinance 2019-03 was introduced by the Town Council containing the revised language from the PC. During discussion of this new ordinance, Jane Seegal raised several issues including her concerns for title insurance, and the inconsistency of two sentences. The public hearing for the ordinance was also set for March 11, 2019.

Dog Park – After the opening of two proposals, the Town Council approved award of the Dog Park fencing contract for $6,514.00 to Tri County Fence & Decks.

Fence at 215 Washington Grove Lane – Mayor Compton announced that Town Maintenance removed the portion of this fence which was located on Town land.

Storm Water Management – Mayor Compton announced that research on the problem of storm water management in the West Woods is beginning, and a request for proposals will likely be issued for an engineering study to propose solutions. With regard to storm water overflow onto Railroad Street, County DOT cleared the drainage pipes under Railroad Street and the CSX railroad tracks, and follow-up work is expected to lower the pipe under Railroad Street.

Cherry Ave Damage behind 116 Ridge Road – The contractor engaged in construction at 116 Ridge Road was responsible for severe damage to Cherry Avenue behind the site. The property owners and the contractor have agreed to repair the damage when weather permits. This situation suggests building permit application evaluations should include consideration of potential damage to public ways and Town property.

Artist’s Studio in Commercial Corner – Use of the space in 105 Washington Grove Lane for an artist’s studio was brought to the Mayor’s attention by the property owner. There was Council discussion about whether or not the allowable uses at the Commercial Corner are too restrictive. An opinion letter from the Mayor will be written regarding the artist’s studio.

Garage at 405 Brown Street – Collin Turner met with the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) to inform them that he intends to request a building permit to demolish a 2-car garage and build a 3-car garage with upper-level storage. The HPC Chair spelled out the process for submitting the permit and where in the process the HPC would review the plans.

Forest Restoration and Deer Management – The results of the Woods Committee’s survey of views on forest restoration and deer management approaches were published on the Town website. The Woods Committee continues its work on the Deer Management plan, including a proposed ordinance to permit deer management hunting on Town property pursuant to County and State regulations.

Georgette Cole would like to see the Public Ways & Property Permit included as part of the building permit package. It is important for contractors and residents to be responsible for any walkway damage as a result of a home project. This item should be added to the checklist in the packet. There was also a discussion about creating a “Guidelines for Contractors” document for the packet as well.

Master Plan Work Session – Report & Update:

Georgette reported the work session went well. Changes that were sent along with the minutes were approved. The agenda for March 20, 2019 meeting is done.

Washington Grove House Records – Status Report:

Georgette reported the House Records project will resume at a quicker pace when the Master Plan work is completed.

Other Business:

Chairman Nagrod reported a recent phone call with a contractor doing work at 125 Grove Avenue (Renee Chandler). The proposed work includes porch posts, footers, landscaping, demo of an old shed and construction of a new one. The Commission believes a permit along with a boundary survey is required for everything except the landscaping. They also believe the work should cease until the permit and survey are obtained. Charlie Challstrom moved the Planning Commission recommend a stop work order for 125 Grove Avenue. Dave Hix seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0. The contractor will bring in the building permit information and the Clerk will inform the Commissions upon its arrival. Chairman Nagrod will call the contractor and explain the requirement for a boundary survey.

Deb Mehlferber would like clarity from the Commission about repairing and/or replacing a fence. She would like a clean explanation of how to handle permits for fences. She asked the question, what constitutes “part” of a fence? Jon Cohen said he thought if a new asset was not being created then it was a repair. There was a discussion about conforming and non-conforming issues and private and public property lines.

There was a brief mention of speeding in Town and of the new speed hump on Grove Road.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 9:27 PM.

Kathryn L. Lehman, Town Clerk

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