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3 May 2006 | Approved: 7 June 2006

The meeting was called to order at 7:30 p.m. by Chairman John McClelland. Other Commissioners present: Darrell Anderson, Peggy Ebner, and Bud O’Connor. Town residents present: Bob Booher, Charlie Challstrom, Georgette Cole, Bill Harrison, Tony and Holly Hunter-Ceci, Ralph Hurst, Chuck Kershaw, Chris Kirtz, Joan Mahaffey, Maureen and David Neumann, Jenny Rabinowitz, Ed Roberts, David Ross, Bruce Rothrock and David Stopak.

Approval of Minutes

Approval of the April Planning Commission minutes was postponed until the June meeting.

Building Permit Process

The Commission proposes to modify the Building Permit Worksheet to include a paragraph at the bottom clarifying when the Planning and Historic Preservation Commissions want to see modifications to an existing permit. This will include when Montgomery County requires revisions and resubmission of a permit, any changes to the distance from the property line and/or square footage, as well as significant changes to the height, historic fabric, scale or mass. Property owners will sign this worksheet agreeing to notify the Town of changes and the Planning Commission and HPC will agree to a quick (24- to 48-hour) review. A new Washington Grove Permit stamp has been ordered stating that modifications/changes to the approved final construction plans may require additional review by the PC and HPC before construction begins/continues.

102 Ridge Road

Building Plan Modifications (Procedure) – Architect Ralph Hurst reviewed the elevation as originally submitted to the Town and compared it to changes made after construction began. Though all modifications fall within height requirements, a gable was demolished and rebuilt with larger dimensions than original plans indicated. A porch along Brown Street was omitted for economic reasons. Chairman McClelland stated that existing Town ordinances require that a copy of the approved Montgomery County permitted plans be provided to the Town as well as any amendments thereto. He also indicated that had the Town been notified of these changes and given a chance to make a cursory review, any questions could have been addressed without controversy.

Landscaping in a Forest Conservation Area

Tony and Holly Hunter-Ceci have a forest conservation area on their property at 348 Ridge Road which has a lot of brush, poison ivy and piles of broken asphalt on it. The Commission gave permission to remove these items and to perform preventative maintenance. New plantings or maintenance involving existing trees within the Forest Conservation Area, however, must be done with the advice of the Town’s forester.

Building Permits

  • 112 Chestnut Avenue – Applicant Tom Appleby wants to demolish two sheds. Commission referred application to Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) for review.
  • 415 Center Street – Applicant Michael Elliott wants to construct a gazebo. The HPC review is complete and setback and lot coverage requirements have been met. Approved: 3-0.
  • 301 First Avenue – Applicant Mimi Styles wants to construct a 4-foot high fence. Approved: 3-0. The Town Council has referred the plan for this fence to the Town’s Forestry Committee for review.
  • 500 Brown Street – Applicant Bill Harrison wants to construct a shed within the Forest Conservation Easement on his property. The HPC review is complete. The Commission stated that structures may not be built within a Forest Conservation Easement. Denied: 3-0. Mr. Harrison was reminded about a 1998 letter from Mayor John Compton asking him to remove the old asphalt driveway that lies within the easement.
  • 401 Brown Street – Applicant David Ross wants to construct a 4-foot high split-rail fence with wire mesh to enclose the rear of his property. Approved: 4-0. A separate application for a 6-foot high fence of the same type in the same location was submitted. Denied: 4-0. Several portions of the proposed fence abut public land (Maple Avenue and Maple Road).

Master Plan Revision

Charlie Challstrom distributed copies of a time line and a request for residents to participate in completion of the Master Plan update.

Public Appearances

100 McCauley Street — Maureen Neumann expressed her frustration with the appearance of the property at 100 McCauley Street. She reported that numerous vehicles are continually parked all over the yard and that evidence of a landscaping business contributes to the downtrodden look of the property. She reported that she had spoken to the owner but appealed to the Commission for help to improve the situation for all those living along McCauley Street. A safety issue was also raised about cooking facilities reported to be in the basement of the home at 100 McCauley. Chuck Kershaw stated that there was a stove in the basement. A question was raised about whether there is legally adequate egress and ingress from the basement in the event of a fire. An unregistered/untagged vehicle is also parked on the property. Chairman McClelland to send a letter to the mayor requesting investigation of these issues and appropriate action to correct address violations according to Town and Montgomery County Ordinances.

Report from Town Council

Darrell Anderson announced that there will be a public hearing on revisions to the Town ordinances on Monday, May 22 at 7:30 p.m. Included will be proposed changes to fencing around swimming pools, a requirement that a permit be obtained for constructing a swimming pool, and legislation on temporary storage facilities (PODS).

Other Business

333 McCauley Street –
The status of this long-abandoned property was discussed. The taxes have been paid and Montgomery County has periodically boarded it up but seems unwilling to condemn the property as long as someone is paying the taxes.

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

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