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7 September 2011 | Approved: 5 October 2011

Chairman Challstrom called to order at 7:38 p.m. In attendance were commissioners Samantha Beres, Joe Clark, Brenda Gumula, Peter Nagrod and Steve Werts.

Approval of Agenda

Chairman Challstrom stated that he would like to add four (4) items to the agenda and place them after Building Permit Applications. They are; HPC Proposed Change in Review Procedures, Land Swap/Re-subdivision in Block 9, County Legislation Adopted by the Town and Signs in Residential Zones.
Peter Nagrod moved to approve the agenda with the additions. Samantha Beres seconded the motion. Approved: 6-0.

Approval of the Minutes

Brenda Gumula moved to approve the minutes from August 3, 2011. Peter Nagrod seconded the motion. Approved: 6-0.

Public Appearances

Representing the HPC, David Stopak came to discuss a problem with a current renovation and to discuss some proposed changes to the Town building permit process. He also stated that a member from the HPC will now attend each PC meeting on a rotating basis and invited PC members to attend their meetings as well. David explained that John McClelland and his contractor had run into trouble with Montgomery County because he wanted to use his original bay window. Mr. McClelland was being told by the County that his old window was not energy efficient and would not pass inspection. The County was also trying to make Mr. McClelland re-wire the smoke detectors in parts of the home that are not affected by the addition/renovation. Mr. McClelland asked for help from the HPC in terms of promoting preservation of older homes and reusing original materials in renovations. David felt that the HPC could not really help John because the advisory-only Commission is not recognized by Montgomery County. A discussion ensued. The HPC will work on this with Mr. McClelland and also consider what to do for the long term.

Building Permit Applications

  • 204 Ridge Road – this building permit application is complete and has met the requirements. Samantha Beres moved to approve the building permit application for a fence at 204 Ridge Road. Peter Nagrod seconded the motion. Approval: 6-0. Peter and Brenda will do a follow-up visit upon completion of the fence.
  • 302 Ridge Road – Samantha Beres explained that this permit application was a request to move an existing shed. The paperwork was submitted by the required deadline and the notice to neighbors sign is posted. The Commission reviewed the documents. Samantha Beres moved to approve the building permit application for the relocation of an existing shed at 302 Ridge Road. Steve Werts seconded the motion. Approval: 6-0. The resident is aware of the requirement for a permit from Montgomery County as well.
  • 306 Ridge Road – Although this resident does have a Temporary Use Permit for his Observatory Pod, he has not turned in the required building permit application for its permanent location. An Observatory is not something that is addressed in the Town Ordinances. The Commission will treat this structure as an accessory building. Peter Nagrod will make follow-up contact with Mr. Lottes to be sure that he understands the fact that the Observatory will have to be removed if a building permit application is not approved before the expiration of the Temporary Use Permit (10/14/11).

HPC Proposed Change in Review Procedures

David Stopak reviewed the proposed procedure. The goal is to get the HPC review completed before the resident has spent money on architectural drawings. By doing this, it would be easier for the residents to use the HPC’s input in their design process. There was a lengthy discussion about ordinance requirements, timing, current process, potential pit-falls, restrictions, mandatory early reviews vs. advisory reports, preliminary vs. final drawings, marketing problems, education efforts, tax credits, how to engage the public in preservation efforts and the benefits that come along with it. The Commission offered encouragement for the HPC to devise an earlier-stage process, perhaps involving preliminary plans before the building permit application is submitted. Each Commission member expressed some reservations with the process as presented. Chairman Challstrom thanked David and the HPC for their work and stated that additional work and further clarification were in order.

Land Swap/Re-subdivision in Block 9

Chairman Challstrom did a quick review. Mr. Nagrod recused himself from his role as PC member for this discussion. This involves Mr. Nagrod’s property and he participated in the discussion only as a resident. The Commission discussed advantages and disadvantages of this action. Mr. Nagrod expressed the desire for the Commission to be equitable to all who find themselves in this position. There are still some details to work through; however, the Mayor is asking the Commission to consider approval. There should be no cost to Mr. Nagrod.

County Legislation Adopted by the Town

Chairman Challstrom reviewed the Article XIII handout and the process for obtaining County assistance with enforcement, specifically with the housing code violations. This was just an informational discussion.

Signs in Residential Zones

The Commission discussed the sign requirements and restrictions in the current Town Ordinance. Charlie Challstrom cautioned the Commission about the fact that they are not an enforcement body but can give the Mayor (enforcement agent) advice about the issue. He went on to say that if anyone has a particular complaint about signs, he/she can file it with the Mayor.

Roberts Oxygen Access Update

Charlie Challstrom reported that the County Attorney’s office has concluded there is no legally enforceable basis for the County to deny the occupant or owner of 17011 Railroad Street, including Roberts Oxygen, access to Railroad Street. The 1980 declaration by Richard Ward specified when Crabbs Branch Way is constructed to the property line; Ward Component Systems would eliminate the temporary access to Ridge Road (now Railroad Street). This private party declaration did not specify the beneficiary of the declaration, any time limit, or any enforcement mechanism. The property’s temporary access and driveway permit are not well documented or understood. County plans for the Equipment and Maintenance Operations Center (EMOC), do not construct Crabbs Branch Way to the edge of the property occupied by Roberts Oxygen. However, the County added a driveway through EMOC for Roberts Oxygen truck access to Crabbs Branch Way to avoid the railroad crossing.

Deer Park Bridge

Charlie Challstrom reported that the Town’s Bridge Advisory Group continues to support Town consultation with specialists to help sort out the details of how the CSX National Gateway Clearing Project will affect the Town. A tree consultant group has been engaged to prepare a site inventory and tree valuation for trees near the Deer Park Bridge. A meeting with Gaithersburg traffic experts explored options for traffic calming along Railroad Street where we already experience unsafe traffic speeds. Discussions included the potential for a roundabout for the Railroad Street/Washington Grove Lane/East Diamond Avenue intersection. At this meeting, we also heard a report that there is no official City of Gaithersburg position with regard to the future of the Deer Park Bridge. Mayor Georgette Cole continued the dialog with the CSX representative with regard to the Town’s official position and to request more information on the CSX proposals. Our Town Planning Commission is prepared to evaluate any official submission from CSX or from Montgomery County for consistency with the Washington Grove Master Plan. This information gathering is to prepare for another Special Town Meeting, possibly in October.

Driveway Permits – Discussion

Deferred to a future meeting.

Report from the Town Council

  • Woodward Park: Joe Clark reported that Woodward Park Coordinator Bill Robertson would resign his position on November 1st. The Town is looking for someone to replace Bill.
  • 300 Ridge Road: Joe reported that there was a well failure at this property. The owners will seek restitution from Toll Brothers. The Town holds a bond from Toll to cover the possibility of well failures for 15 homes on Ridge Road.
  • Fishing at Maple Lake: Joe Clark reported that signage at the lake will be improved in order to further clarify where fishing will be allowed.

Other Business

Peter Nagrod brought up the fact that the County sidewalk along Washington Grove Lane is terrible and dangerous. The County should be contacted about this.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:49 p.m.

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