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10 November 2014 | Approved: 8 December 2014

Mayor Joli McCathran called the regular meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Georgette Cole, Audrey Maskery, John McClelland, Carolyn Rapkievian, and Greg Silber. Also present were Treasurer Mary Challstrom, Planning Commission Chair Charlie Challstrom, HPC member David Stopak, newly appointed Council member Cindy Frei, Pastor EunJoung Joo and residents Dennis Kane, Bruce Rothrock and Shelley Winkler. Naseem Ahmed from the Shady Grove Crossing Home Owners Association also attended the meeting.

Oath of Office

Mayor McCathran administered the oath of office to newly appointed Council member Cindy Freishtat (Frei) who is filling the vacancy left by Bill Robertson.

Council Assignments

Mayor McCathran made some changes to the Council areas of responsibility. Cindy Frei will be in charge of Roads& Walkways and the Woods Group. Audrey Maskery will be in charge of Maintenance. Mayor McCathran will continue to take on the Intergovernmental responsibilities.

Approval of Agenda

Mayor McCathran asked for approval of the agenda by general consensus. There were a few administrative changes. Vote: 6-0.

Public Appearances

Georgette Cole introduced Ahmed Naseem from the Shady Grove Crossing Home Owners Association. Georgette recently attended a meeting of this HOA and extended an invitation to Mr. Naseem. The Mayor and Council welcomed Mr. Naseem. Mr. Naseem thanked everyone for their hospitality and stated he hopes we can help each other with community challenges which may occur.

Pastor EunJoung Joo expressed her appreciation to the Town for their generous donations to Gaithersburg HELP. She came specifically to discuss snow removal at the church. Pastor Joo reported she had a previous discussion with Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts (about plowing the church parking lot) who indicated it would not be too onerous and suggested approaching the Council with her request. Pastor Joo proposed an exchange of services; continued use of the church parking lot for overflow at McCathran Hall events for plowing services from Mr. Werts. Snow removal would not include the sidewalks around the church. The Council discussed liability, payment for materials, good will, in-kind donations, proposed area to be plowed and a possible agreement between both parties. In conclusion, Mayor McCathran will discuss with the Town attorney the liability issues and what other municipalities have done when faced with this type if request.

Shelley Winkler proposed a spring meeting with elected County and Gaithersburg officials in order to get to know them and vice versa. It was suggested residents might host teas and/or happy hours in their homes and, perhaps, even a few house tours might take place. Shelley volunteered to work with the Mayor and a few others to accomplish this in the spring. The Council thought this was a great idea.

Approval of Minutes

Georgette Cole moved to approve the meeting minutes for 13 October 2014. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Carolyn Rapkievian expressed concern about the language in the minutes referencing signs to be posted at Maple Lake. She thought the Council agreed "The Town of Washington Grove" was a better choice than "Private Property" and the record should reflect that decision. The Mayor referred this discussion to New Business on the meeting’s agenda. In references to the Traffic Calming Committee recommendations, Carolyn also wanted to add the following:
"The Council endorsed the quick and easy fixes from Exhibit A." Vote: 6-0, as amended.

Treasurer’s Report

  • Greg Silber moved to accept the Treasurer’s Report for October 2014. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. Treasurer Mary Challstrom fielded questions about spring expenditures and tennis court watering. Vote: 6-0.
  • Georgette Cole moved to transfer $15K from savings to checking to pay bills. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0.
  • Treasurers Report 2014-11 pdf

Audit Report FY Ending June 30, 2014

Treasurer Mary Challstrom fielded a few questions about the report. Georgette Cole moved to accept the Audit Report with thanks to Lindsay & Associates and to Mary Challstrom. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0.

Application for Zoning Text Amendment

Mayor McCathran turned this item over to Planning Commission Chair Charlie Challstrom. Charlie reported the Commission previously accepted and filed the ZTA, however, consultation and input from the Town Attorney Suellen Ferguson produced a need for further examination. Some of the areas requiring additional thought include the definitions of family, household, dwelling, and dwelling unit. Town Attorney also expressed concerns with our language about signs and the potential for First Amendment rights violations with same. Charlie also reported the Planning Commission voted to reconsider the ZTA and tabled further discussion awaiting a response from the Town attorney.

Proposal to Develop the Town Website

Carolyn Rapkievian gave an update about the project to migrate the Town web site to a different platform. Bill Saar wants to continue to work as the Town Webmaster but does not have the time to do the data migration. Marida Hines is helping Carolyn with this project and suggested a fee of $3,000 for Marida Hines to do the job. Several residents have been consulted but Marida would like to hold a workshop involving more residents. Carolyn stated the Town Clerk should be involved and also said no social media dimension will be considered at this time. She asked the Council to reflect on what to do about older documents ("Dumping") and who would decide what to remove from the site and when to remove it. It was suggested the Town Archivist Pat Patula be consulted. In conclusion, Carolyn will send the Mayor and Council the scope of work and proposal produced by Marida Hines for review between now and the December Council meeting

World Mayors Council on Climate Change

Carolyn Rapkievian brought this subject to the Council. She asked the following questions:

  • What kinds of things can we do to slow climate change?
  • What do we need in Town and the surrounding areas to reduce climate change?
  • What is our vision and how do we include this in the Master Plan?

Carolyn explained this group consists of local government leaders who are concerned about climate change. She also said small communities can make a difference and set an example. The Council discussed asking resident Ned Helm to speak to the Council about this subject, good modeling for communities, having a "Climate Change Day," tree planting, influencing utility companies, educating residents, doing a work session and the Town Master Plan. In conclusion, Cindy Frei will gather more information for the Council and Carolyn Rapkievian will ask Ned Helm to speak at the December meeting of the Town Council.

Council Reports

  • Carolyn Rapkievian moved to accept the October Council Reports and approve for posting on the Town website. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. A few minor changes were made. Vote: 6-0.
  • Town Council Reports – November 2014 pdf

Mayor’s Announcements

  • Air BnB – Mayor McCathran reported a non-conforming use at 8300 Boundary Street where residents were providing multiple rooms for short term rental through the Air BnB circuit. Transient rentals are not allowed in a residential zone in Washington Grove. Mayor McCathran sent a cease and desist letter to the owners. The Mayor also reported the property owners removed their three listings from the Air BnB website immediately and have been responsive to the Mayor’s letter. The owners agreed to change their use to the allowable 30-day stay per the Town ordinances and also remove the references to Maple Lake and Woodward Park as amenities. This situation will continue to be monitored.
  • PEPCO Pruning (Reliability Work) – Mayor McCathran reported PEPCO will be coming in to Town in approximately two months for tree pruning. PEPCO Vegetation Management personnel and qualified tree clearance contractors will commence cyclical tree clearance in the vicinity of overhead feeders as part of their vegetation management program. Audrey Maskery (Forestry) and Steve Werts (Maintenance) will monitor this project. Bruce Rothrock brought up the upcoming pole replacement project and asked if Town Maintenance could use the old poles to replace rotten parking barriers. Audrey Maskery will talk to Steve Werts about this matter.

New Business

  • East Woods "Hang Out:" Mayor McCathran explained the recent problem with a large hole cut in the fence and the "hang out" area created by some young people who allegedly live in the Mill Creek Garden Apartments. Items found were: 6 bicycles, 1 motorized scooter, pvc pipes, chairs, and various tools (shovel, rake, machete, saw). The Montgomery County Police were called. They took the bikes and the scooter. Town Maintenance took everything else away. The area is now raked clean and a fire pit is filled in. This situation is being monitored by various dog-walkers who will report any further activity.
  • Plantings at the Salt Barns: Earlier this month Shelley Winkler and Wendy Harris asked the Mayor about the replacement of the dead plant material at the Salt Barn area on County Emergency Maintenance Operations Center land. When the Mayor went to view the area, new trees were being installed and it appears replacement is in progress for the area behind the Salt Barn.
  • Mayor’s Brass Plaques: Mayor McCathran mentioned the poor condition of the brass plaques on the Mayor’s pictures that hang in the hallway of the lower hall. It was suggested the Woman’s Club be consulted as they had originally been responsible for the project. Georgette Cole will bring it to their attention at the next Board meeting.
  • Traffic Calming Committee Letters: Mayor McCathran reported she sent letters to Montgomery County Department of Transportation and the Montgomery County Police Department which outlined recommendations from last month’s Committee report.
  • Signs: As a continuance from the earlier discussion, Carolyn Rapkievian stated she advocates for signs that only say, "Town of Washington Grove" and not "Private Property." The Council looked at a sign Audrey Maskery purchased for the fence which faces the Mill Creek Garden Apartments. There was a brief discussion, but no particular decisions were made, about types of signs and about police enforcement.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:37 p.m.

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