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4 May 2004 | Approved: 1 June 2004

The Planning Commission of Washington Grove, MD held its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, May 4, 2004. Those in attendance were Chairman John McClelland, Commission members Darrell Anderson, Peggy Ebner, Robert Evans, and Jim Leng; Mayor John Compton; and Historic Preservation Committee member Bob Booher.

Chairman McClelland convened the meeting at 7:30 pm. The minutes of the April Commission meeting were approved.

Mayor Compton was invited to bring any matters he wished to the attention of the Commission. He distributed a “very rough draft” ordinance to deal with special exceptions involving nonprofit organizations. The desirability of having such an ordinance was occasioned by the issues raised during the request of the Methodist Church to operate a school on their premises but would serve to assist in many other situations. Commissioner Leng reported that, due to a lack of interested students, the John Wesley School project had been abandoned. It was agreed by the Commission to review the draft ordinance and discuss it at the Commission’s June 1 meeting.

Mayor Compton also asked that the Commission give further thought to the issue of a town enforcement officer and suggest to the Council the role and responsibilities which such an individual might have and whether any amendments to the Town’s ordinances should be made to make clear the officer’s role. The towns of Somerset and Chevy Chase have such an officer, and Commissioner Ebner will work with Town Clerk Kathy Lehman to secure information about how they utilize the officer.

Finally, the Mayor asked that the Commission continue to look into the issue of parking on Town property, though he suggested it should be a lower priority than the other two concerns.

Chairman McClelland then raised the issue of what information and documentation is now required of persons seeking building permits and what additional information might be appropriate. Commissioner Anderson said the Town should require bonds for road damage. There was a discussion of whether bonds would be required for all building permits or only for those involving new buildings, and whether there should be a threshold based on gross vehicle weight. There was a consensus that bonds should be required in some instances but that further thought and discussion was needed. It was also the consensus that the bonding requirement needs to be written so as to place the burden of proof with regard to damages on the construction company. Concerns were also expressed about the damage that has been caused by the waste management trucks.

Mr. Booher said the HPC would like to see floor plans, elevations, and photos of the existing structure and its neighbors. Chairman McClelland said a plat survey of the property is currently required and that requiring an elevation which would show heights also seemed appropriate. It was the consensus of the Commission that these documents were appropriate to require, as were the final construction plans so that enforcement would be far easier. It was also the consensus that applicants should be encouraged but not required to submit whatever additional materials the HPC would like to have which are not essential for the building permit approval process.

Commissioners Leng and Anderson reported that the Town Council had decided to block off access to the Casey Field from Ridge Road in order to discourage its use for drug deals, loud parties and the like. 6”x6” or 8”x8” posts will be placed along Ridge Road at intervals that will permit pedestrians, bicycles and ATVs to enter the field but not cars or trucks. The Commission was advised that the permission of the property’s owner had not been sought and was not necessary because the posts would be placed on Town right of way.

There was a discussion about whether an ordinance was required to prevent the gravelling or paving of Town right –of- way by residents to use for parking. There was consensus that restrictions needed to be placed on the use of Town property not contiguous to a homeowner’s property for parking and that further consideration of this issue would be had at a subsequent meeting.

Commissioner Ebner reported that building permits were approved for the Gumula, Stiles and Yachup properties but that a permit requested by the Winklers had been denied.

Commissioner Anderson reported that the Montgomery County Planning Commission had met recently to discuss the Deer Park Bridge and were clearly determined to replace the bridge with a larger structure when the current bridge is no longer passable (estimated to occur in 2 to 5 years). The County Commission does not want to repair or reconstruct the current bridge and had before it three designs of possible substitutes, all of which would be extremely problematic from the Town’s perspective. No action, however, is imminent.

Bob Evans – Planning Commissioner

The meeting was adjourned at 9:30 pm.

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