1 May 2019 | Approved: 5 June 2019
Peter Nagrod called the meeting to order at 7:35 p.m. In attendance were Commissioners Charlie Challstrom, John Cohen (alternate), Georgette Cole, Dave Hix, and Deb Mehlferber. Also present were Jonathan Dail, Christina Kough and Anais M’poko.
Approval of Agenda:
Georgette Cole moved to approve the agenda. Dave Hix seconded the motion. Charlie Challstrom requested the addition of a review of the Draft Annual Report and a discussion about triggering events. Chairman Nagrod added plumbing and electrical permits. Approved: 5-0, as amended.
Jonathan Dail and Christina Kough are considering the purchase of 215 Washington Grove Lane and came to ask questions about the Town permitting process and what they would be allowed to do in order to renovate the home. There was a discussion about new windows, siding, and roofing. A feasibility study is underway and they have put a contract on the house.
Anais M’poko wants to open a hair/beauty salon in 109 Washington Grove Lane. A business license application and a letter requesting Town approval was presented. The proposed use is allowable per the Town Ordinances. The Town will write a letter to Anais approving the requested use as a hair/beauty salon and stating the use and occupancy requirements have been met. Anais will come to the Town Office tomorrow to pick up the letter, the business license, and pay the fee.
Building Permit Applications:
7 Daylily Lane – Deb Mehlferber presented a permit application for a 6 foot high fence at this property. The Commission reviewed the application. There was a discussion about sections of the fence that would be allowed to be 6 feet in height but others that would not because of the height restriction for fences that face Town land. The Commission concluded the resident had two (2) options:
- After the denial of the permit application, seek relief from the Board of Zoning Appeals
- Change the height of the fence to 4 feet
Deb Mehlferber moved to deny the building permit application for a 6 foot fence because of the height limitations. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. Denied: 5-0. Deb will contact the resident and explain the situation.
107 Grove Ave. – Deb Mehlferber presented a permit application for a fence at this property. She explained all the property corners were located. Deb Mehlferber moved to approve the building permit application for a fence at 107 Grove Avenue as presented. Peter Nagrod seconded the motion. Approved: 5-0.
201 Brown Street – Deb Mehlferber presented a permit application for a fence at this property. She explained the resident wants to remove and add sections of fencing. The Commission reviewed the proposal. Deb Mehlferber moved to approve the building permit application for a fence at 201 Brown Street as presented. Charlie Challstrom seconded the motion. Approved: 5-0.
405 Brown Street – Dave Hix presented an evaluation of a building permit application for a garage at this property. The application meets all requirements. It should be noted this project includes removal of the old garage. Dave Hix moved to approve the building permit application for a new garage at 405 Brown Street as presented. Peter Nagrod seconded the motion. Approved: 5-0.
Approval of Minutes:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the April minutes. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. Approved: 5-0.
203 2nd Avenue – Porch Steps Re-do for Compliance Purposes: Although a drawing of a remedy to the non-compliant steps was presented many months ago, nothing was approved. The Commission reviewed the drawing and decided this will be discussed in early June. Charlie Challstrom moved the PC endorse corrective action putting the steps above grade in the easement area. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. Approved: 5-0.
409 5th Avenue – Update: Charlie Challstrom presented a draft ordinance for the sale of Town land under the porch on this property. Charlie also pointed out an error in the meets and bounds. The Commission is still waiting for refinement of reversion language which is currently under Council deliberation.
Report from Town Council:
Charlie Challstrom reported the following:
Ordinance 2019-05 introduced – to adopt the Town’s FY 2020 Budget after expected action at the Annual Town Meeting to approve total expenditures and tax rates.
Resolution 2019-06 adopted – to name the Dog Park in the West Woods as “The Dog Spot”.
PC Report approved – Council approved the Washington Grove Planning Commission Annual Report for Calendar Year 2018 for transmission to the Maryland Department of Planning.
Ordinance 2019-03 discussed – to authorize sale of Town land under 315 Grove Ave to Jane Seegal. Mayor Compton explained the document contained some new language describing a process for resolving potential non-compliance with the covenants. He has consulted with our Town attorney and action should await her opinion. There was considerable further discussion about talking to the property owner when non-compliance was present, enforcing compliance, going to court, and who pays the legal fees. Mayor Compton will write another draft which will include language from the Town attorney, removal of the reversion language, and two new whereas statements explaining the Town’s sole interest to be preservation of historic integrity.
This item will be on the June agenda of the Town Council meeting.
Ordinance 2019-04 enacted – to permit deer management hunting with conditions, after a recap of concerns raised during the public hearing that evening. A resolution authorizing each session must be adopted by the Town Council. Each bow hunting session may be authorized only within the East Woods and West Woods properties, and may, with appropriate consultation with and concurrence from M NCPPC, be conducted in the Conservation Meadow. The Town-authorized deer bow hunting will be limited to a Town-selected established group of State-licensed and State-qualified bow hunters. When possible, deer meat harvested during bow hunting sessions will be donated to food banks, food pantries, and/or soup kitchens to feed the hungry. A group of qualified bow hunters will be selected, and planning will proceed for a first session this fall.
Small Cells Standards Needed – Mayor Compton reported that Town Attorney Suellen Ferguson urges the Town to get regulations in place regarding small cell installations.
Federal and State actions may preempt local government permitting authority, perhaps leaving only aesthetic standards for local control. Many local governments have already established regulations. A team effort is needed to draft aesthetic standards as criteria for approval of an application for our Public Ways & Property permit.
New County Salt Storage – Mayor Compton reported County DOT has proposed the addition of a new salt storage building near the existing barns that back up to Town land near Brown Street.
Bikeway Connection – Mayor Compton and other Town representatives participated in a joint meeting with Gaithersburg and the County where the proposed bikeway connection was discussed. Both Gaithersburg and the County are doing studies of this project.
Note: The Commission discussed the formation of an information group to work on the aesthetic standards for the 5G small cell towners. A representative from the PC and HPC would be preferable. Charlie offered to send this idea to the Town Council.
Master Plan Work Session – Report & Update:
Georgette Cole reported the work sessions are going well. She explained she still needs information about McCathran Hall and about storm water management. The Commission briefly discussed the existence of a draft RFP written by Town Code Inspector Doug Lohmeyer and sent to the Mayor. Robert Johnson expressed interest in reviewing the document and working on this project. Charlie Challstrom moved the PC recommend to the Mayor the formation of a storm water management task force. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. Approval: 5-0.
Washington Grove House Records – Status Report:
Nothing to report.
Charlie Challstrom referenced two (2) houses that are on the market (or sold) but have encroachments on Town land. Since a change in ownership constitutes a “triggering event”, the violations at these homes should be addressed.
412 4th Avenue – Charlie reported this home has a small fence on Town land that is in disrepair. Charlie will have a discussion with the new owner about removal of the fence.
#12 The Circle – Charlie Challstrom reported this home has a propane tank partially on Town land and the real estate agent asked him for assistance in solving the problem. Montgomery County standards for locating the tank will be researched.
Peter Nagrod asked the Commission to think about an agreement that would allow a resident to replace an old, decrepit fence on Town land with a nicer fence still on Town land. The resident would be allowed to continue to use the land and the general public would get to look at a more beautiful fence. The agreement could place a covenant on the property which states the fence is to be moved to the property owner’s land upon the sale of the house (a triggering event).
Peter Nagrod also expressed his concern with the Town stamping and signing a building permit application, specifically for electrical and plumbing work, when the Town does not govern or inspect those items. A discussion ensued. Additional discussion should take place in the near future.
Peter Nagrod briefly mentioned access to #6 The Circle and the fact that there is no back door on the property.
Robert Johnson expressed the desire to fill the vacancy on the Planning Commission that will be left by Dave Hix’s resignation. The Commission thanked Dave for his work and said he would be welcomed back when his schedule improves. Charlie will bring the name of Robert Johnson to the Mayor for consideration.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 9:10 PM.
Kathryn L. Lehman, Town Clerk