10 April 2017 | Approved: 22 May 2017
Mayor Joli McCathran called the meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Council Members Georgette Cole, Patrice Klein, Audrey Maskery, John McClelland, and Greg Silber. Also present were Treasurer Mary Challstrom, Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts, Planning Commission Chairman Peter Nagrod, Historic Preservation member Gail Littlefield, and residents Charlie Challstrom, Carolyn O’Connor, and Bud O’Connor. Meredith Beckhardt, who has put a contract to purchase 404 5th Avenue was also in attendance. Historic Preservation Commission Chair Bob Booher arrived at 8:00 p.m.
Approval of Agenda:
Georgette Cole moved to approve the agenda. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Planning Commission Chair Peter Nagrod asked for the Dog Park Update to be addressed during Public Appearances. Vote: 5-0, approved, as amended.
409 5th Avenue Permanent Easement: Property owners Bud and Carolyn O’Connor discussed their permanent easement application. Bud stated the attorneys had nothing further to discuss. It is now time for the Council to develop some mutually agreeable language. He distributed two (2) handouts and explained ongoing concerns regarding the language as presented including inaccuracies in the measurements of the porch. Bud requested the Town use the measurements in the legal survey he obtained rather than the measurements used by the Historic Preservation Commission. HPC member Gail Littlefield explained how the discrepancy in the measurements may have occurred. Mayor McCathran reiterated the opinion of the Town attorney that any substantive changes would require a Council vote and proper public notice. The following issues were discussed:
- Discrepancies in the measurements
- Compounded errors
- Reason for not using numbers from the legal survey
- Use of the detailed HPC descriptions in Exhibit C as part of the deed
- Removal of the structure
- Terminating the easement
- Moving the easement in case of a rebuild after a fire
In conclusion, the O’Connor’s objected to the use of measurements other than those from the legal survey and to the inclusion in the deed of the additional language in Exhibit C.
Dog Park Update:
Planning Commission Chairman Peter Nagrod expressed interest in the Mayor’s update on this subject. He also asked for guidance about the process and about how to identify appropriate places for a dog park. Peter reported a group of people went out on Saturday morning and walked both sets of woods. The locations in the West Woods would require the downing of too many trees and were too far away. The Cherry Avenue location seemed to fit best. John McClelland expressed concerns about no location being pursued in the West Woods and the appropriateness of a dog park in an historic area. Input from the Historic Preservation Commission and the Woods Committee was also requested. There was a discussion about the use of a temporary fence. Woods Committee Co-Chair Pat Klein stated the group would like to be engaged in any further dialogue concerning placement of a dog park in the woods.
Approval of Minutes:
Greg Silber moved to approve the minutes of the Town Council meeting of March 20, 2017 and post them to the website. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, approved, as amended.
Treasurers Report 2016-Monthpdf
Pat Klein moved to accept the Treasurer’s Report for March 2017. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, accepted. John McClelland moved to transfer $10K from savings to checking to pay bills. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0.
Finalize Recommended FY 2018 Budget and Tax Rate:
John McClelland expressed an interest in discussing his previous vote on the tax rate at the March 20th meeting. There was a discussion about the tax rate and the constant yield. John McClelland moved to use $.255/$100 valuation instead of $.27/$100 valuation. Greg Silber seconded the motion. The Council discussed:
- Benefits to keeping it at $.27 in terms of the reserve balance
- The Town’s history of not spending all their budget allocations
- Preparing for an absolute event
- Tax and spend trends
Based on her fiduciary responsibilities, Treasurer Mary Challstrom reminded the Council the reserves are currently about 10 times the recommended amount typically held by a municipality the size of Washington Grove. The Mayor called the question. The Clerk took the following roll call vote: Georgette Cole – Nay; Patrice Klein – Nay; Audrey Maskery – Aye; John McClelland – Aye; Greg Silber – Aye. The ayes have it. The rate of $.255/$100 valuation will be recommended at the annual Town Meeting. Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts reported he met with a tennis court surface expert on Sunday. There is more damage to the asphalt court than originally thought. Paulownia tree roots have deteriorated thus causing a cavity under the court and additional excavation will be necessary. The new amount needed for court repairs is $20K. Patrice Klein moved to increase budget item 2D2.33 to $20K. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0. Greg Silber voiced his approval of the use of the Capital Improvements Program (CIP) because it signaled the Council’s awareness of, and interest in, pending projects or proposed actions. John McClelland asked about the cost of the back-up generator in the CIP. Regarding the back-up generator, the Council discussed:
- A recent meeting with J.H. Wheat & Sons to determine our needs
- Is $13K enough?
- The necessity of a generator capable of providing sufficient electrical needs vs. minimal emergency needs
- Leaving $13K in the CIP as a placeholder
John McClelland asked to be kept in the loop about future meetings with contractors and the needs of the building as determined by the Emergency Preparedness Committee. Greg Silber moved to accept the Annual Budget for FY 2018 Draft #2 as amended. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, accepted as amended.
Ordinance 2017-01 Adopting Town Budget and Tax Rate for FY 2018 – Introduction:
Georgette Cole moved to introduce Ordinance 2017-01; Ordinance Adopting the Town Budget for the Fiscal Year July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018, and Levying an Ad Valorem Tax on All Assessable Property within the Town of Washington Grove, Maryland with amendments to reflect agreed budget modifications. Greg Silber seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0. The public hearing will take place on May 22, 2017.
Charter Resolution 2017-02 to Amend the Clerk-Treasurer at Two (2) Separate Offices or the Merging of the Offices into One (1) Appointment – Introduction:
Patrice Klein moved to introduce Charter Resolution No. 2017-02. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Mayor McCathran explained this was an effort to update and clarify the Town Charter and positions of both the Clerk and the Treasurer. After a brief discussion there was one (1) minor change. Pat and Audrey agreed to amend the motion and the second. Vote: 5-0, approved, as amended.
Roads Request for Proposal:
Two (2) bids were received. Area A is Brown St. between Ridge Rd. and Maple Rd. Area B is Center St. between Grove Rd. and McCathran Hall. AB Veirs Area A $18,600.00 (incl. 6” stone option) Area B $12,300.00 (incl. 6” stone option) Total $30,900.00 M.T. Laney Area A $23,692.45 (incl. 6” stone option) Area B $$10,778.69 (incl. 6” stone option) Total $34,471.16 Georgette Cole moved to accept the bid for road repair, milling, and resurfacing in the amount of $30,900.00 from AB Veirs and Sons, Inc. John McClelland seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0.
Town Signage – Update on Reflective Paint Adherence & Reflectivity to Wood Signs:
Gail Littlefield stated, although she could not speak for Susan Van Nostrand, she did know Susan took a wood sign with reflective paint to Craig English for clear-coating. Gail talked at length about her research. She reported the following:
- A representative from letter manufacturer Avery Dennison told Gail the reflective letters would work on wood. Reflectivity and adherence could last seven (7) years with proper preparation and use of enamel paint. The same is true for the adhesive letters on aluminum.
- Medium Density Overlay (MDO) plywood could be used for the wood signs. It is recommended for highway signs because of the high resin content, smooth surface and weather resistance.
- If wood is prepared correctly, paint (enamel) with reflective glass beads could be used with a stencil.
- Future signs could be treated with an anti-rot product.
- Painting, preparation and repairs could be done by volunteers. The process could be put on video for future volunteers. This could also be an Eagle Scout project.
- No references on Google about wood street signs being used by other municipalities.
- The Historic Preservation Commission recommended the use of 36” x 5 ½” x ¾” brown wooden signs with white letters and, possibly glass beads.
- Federal Highway Administration (FHA) gave historic towns an exception to requirements for using stand metal street signs. The Town can dictate what they want.
Mayor McCathran thanked Gail for all her work. Gail volunteered to get in touch with Susan Van Nostrand, Pat Patula, and Wendy Harris about their sign research. Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts urged the Council to hire professionals to do the work.
Patrice Klein moved to approve and post the Council Reports. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. John McClelland expressed concerns about the insurance carried by refuse and recycling contractors Potomac Disposal. The documents on file reflect only worker’s compensation coverage and no general liability or coverage on commercial vehicles. John will send an e-mail to Potomac Disposal. Vote: 5-0, approved.
See public appearances.
A Request for Proposal (RFP) will be done for the needed work on the hard tennis courts. The work will be scheduled for the fall. Greg Silber will be the contact person for this contract. Brenda Gumula resigned prior to the official end of her five (5) year term on the Planning Commission due to travel plans. Mayor McCathran praised Brenda for her hard work and diligence as a Commission member. Alternate Deb Mehlferber has been asked to become a full member of the Commission. Georgette Cole tendered an early resignation from the Town Council in order to fill the slot left by the actions of Brenda Gumula and Deb Mehlferber. She will be the new Planning Commission Alternate. Mayor McCathran accepted Georgette’s resignation with regret and thanked her for her work on the Council. Patrice Klein moved to accept the Mayor’s appointment of Georgette Cole as PC Alternate. John McClelland seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, approved. There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 10:21 p.m. Town Clerk
TC REPORTS – May 2017
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – Georgette Cole
Review Session: Sandy Klingenberg was present to discuss her building permit application for a dormer enlargement at her residence, 103 Grove Avenue. The proposed project is for an extension of an existing side dormer. Sufficient information was submitted to the HPC for discussion. The home is a contributing structure and the dormer can be viewed from Grove Road. The proposed extension is in line with the existing dormer and retains the original scale of the structure. Bob will prepare a written review accordingly. Expansion of National Register Nomination: The Commission continued an in-depth discussion of expanding and updating the Town’s nomination to the National Register. The HPC has requested that $30,000.00 be put in the new fiscal year’s budget for this purpose and a brief written justification was submitted to the Mayor for review. In response to the Mayor’s comments, which suggests that a correction to the NR nomination be pursued, not an addition, the Commission agrees that more information should be presented to the Mayor and Town Council to justify the need for an update to the nomination. The HPC feels that a correction would not be sufficient to give the Town the added protection needed when negotiating future issues as density continues to increase around us. The Mayor and Council need information to understand what is actually involved in the lengthy process of preparing such a document and the importance of hiring a professional consultant with the expertise and training to undergo such a task. The Commission agrees that the idea of having volunteers perform this undertaking is not feasible. A two-page letter will be prepared and submitted to the Mayor and Town Council prior to the budget work session on March 27 to ensure everyone involved has time to read and better understand how crucial it is move forward with the NR nomination to help strengthen and protect the Town and its borders in the future. Street Signs: Gail reported that the work group (Margot Bohan, Gail Littlefield and Susan Van Nostrand) met to prepare research on available options for wood materials and reflective lettering solutions that could be used for the Town’s street and walkway signs. Their findings were presented to the Mayor and Town Council at the meeting on March 20th. Gail also prepared a draft letter for HPC review with her suggestions on appropriate guidelines to follow in maintaining the historic character of the street signs. The final edited version of this letter, with the proposed recommendations from the HPC, will be sent to the Mayor and Council. Guidelines Work Group: Wendy, Pat and Mimi have met three times so far to discuss updating the Town’s existing design guidelines. Wendy has been preparing research on non-architectural features, including streetscapes and open spaces; Mimi has been researching porches while Pat has been doing the same on fences. The group has begun to investigate how these features are evaluated in design guidelines developed for other historic districts, as well as within the 2009 Master Plan and various sections of our Town’s Code of Ordinances. The group will meet again on Monday, March 27th. Bulletin Material: Wendy reported that she is preparing an article from the Town Archives on Our Woods and Walkways: Are they Historic? Part one of this article will appear in the April bulletin.
PLAYGROUNDS – Georgette Cole
Nothing to report.
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – Georgette Cole
Nothing to report.
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – Georgette Cole
Nothing to report.
MAPLE LAKE – Patrice Klein
The lake opens Memorial Day weekend (5/28-30) and will be open weekends until school closes on June 16th; then open full time until school reopens in late August. Lake will be open for Labor Day weekend. The gate combo changes in mid-April. Contact Town Office for the new number. Lainey wants to teach swimming lessons again this year. The diving board will be installed in mid-June. Town Maintenance has replaced 100 feet of chain link fence along left side of gate entrance where old fence was falling into the gully, and cleaned the gully under the bridge. Plans to replace the bridge are pending as time permits. The fallen tree has been cut down in the privacy area towards the left corner of the lake. Algae and pond week control will begin in early May and continue every 3 weeks. Coliform water testing is scheduled monthly, June through August. A Rubbermaid storage bin for toys will be purchased. A new AED unit for the Lake has been purchased and registered. The Lake Committee will hold a joint Spring Clean-up activity in the West Woods-Lake area with the Woods and Recreation Committees on Saturday, April 29 at 10:00 AM. Rain date is Sunday, April 30. Lake Committee meetings will be on the 3rd Thursday of every month through September 2017.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS & SAFETY – Patrice Klein
The Committee has been working on several emergency preparedness issues to include Town infrastructure and critical functions. Town Hall Generator: Discussions with Maintenance with recommendation for generator placement on the Center Street side of the Hall, as close as permitted near the basement stairwell, for close access to the interior electrical panel on the lower level. Natural gas powered generator must be at least 6 feet away from all windows and noise shielding may be a considered. Further discussions for final EPC recommendation are ongoing. An historic easement is necessary for the exterior of the Hall. There was a suggestion that Washington Gas might also be a source of information for this generator project. Signage: There are current efforts to evaluate reflectivity of adding glass beads to painted signs as reported at the last Town Council meeting. The 2009 Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices has an exemption from many Federal standards for street signs in historic districts. Committee discussion noted the importance of address marking for individual homes and a proposal to prepare information and samples for the Town Meeting in May. Neighborhood Watch etc: The Committee continues efforts to renew Neighborhood Watch and is in the process of contacting previous Neighborhood Watch participants. A 3-hour non-certificate CPR/AED training is scheduled in McCathran Hall on Saturday, April 22, 2017 starting at 1:00 pm. The cost is $10 per person(no cask, check only); register with Town Office. The Maryland Municipal League (MML) magazine for February contained a two-page article entitled “Tomorrow’s Disaster Requires Action Today”, The MML Summer Conference in Ocean City will include an Emergency Management Workshop.
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION – Audrey Maskery
F&B meeting took place on 8th March. Items discussed; spring planting; replacement of damaged American Sycamore on Grove Road; work schedule for Arbor Day, and fall planting. Arbor Day will be celebrated on April 29th 10:00am until 12:00pm. Forestry & Beautification meetings are held on the 2nd Wednesday each month. All are welcome!
MAINTENANCE – Audrey Maskery
Refurbished memorial bench on behalf of Dagnon family. Patched holes on Chestnut and Hickory roads with asphalt cold patch. Removed snow from streets and Washington Grove Lane sidewalk during last snow storm. Replaced front brake calipers and general brake safety inspection on Town truck. Disassembled Town Trac-Vac, and repaired impeller. Ready for final leaf pick-up. Purchased second-hand utility truckster on behalf of Town. This will replace Steve’s personal truckster. Purchased loads of soil and built berm to divert ground water in Wade Park. Planted area with Japanese Spurge Pachysandra to hold soil in place. Removed leftover firewood from Wade Park not picked up by Town residents, to prevent grass damage. Worked on drainage for swing set in children’s play area.
MEMORIALS – Audrey Maskery
A memorial bench has been placed outside McCathran Hall in memory of Donna Whetzel Dagnon a former resident of Washington Grove. The money for bench and plaque were donated by Robert M. Dagnon and family. The material used for the seat is Sassafras Sassafras albidum, a member of the Laurel family.
PLANNING COMMISSION – John McClelland
Building Permit Applications:
- 103 Grove Ave – Dormer extension approved
- 15 The Circle – A building permit which included a partial demolition was approved but contingent upon “final” HPC review/report. The property owner had previously met with the HPC to discuss the plans.
- 304 Chestnut Ave – Approved basement remodel plans (electric, plumbing) so MOCO permits, inspections and approval can be performed. Conditions were placed upon the property building permit based upon the previous intent of converting the single family residence into a three family residence. All cooking appliances have been removed.
Public Ways Permits:
- WSSC – Waste lines along Grove Ave and Ridge Rd to be improved/replaced from the current 6” diameter pipe to an 8”. The man hole on Cherry Ave is to be replaced as well.
- Proposed Town Border Identity Fence – Temporary wooden stakes will be placed along Washington Grove Ln to improve visualization of a potential fence.
House Files: 107 house files completed Dog Park:
- Three sites were presented although all were in the East Woods with two locations situated relatively close to residences and/or the Gazebo.
- Additional areas of the Town will be pursued in an attempt to minimize the potential negative impacts (noise, odor, parking etc) upon residents, property values, the environment etc.
- The Woods Committee will be consulted for their opinion on dog park impact IF located in the woods.
- The HPC will also be consulted – especially with the Town’s intent to broaden its historic designation to include the whole of the Town (including the woods and annexed properties).
- Further discussion will take place at the next PC meeting with suggestions to then be forwarded to the TC.
MCCATHRAN HALL – John McClelland
Nothing to report.
WOODS COMMITTEE – Greg Silber
Lake, Recreation, and Woods Committees have joined forces for a West Woods and lake clean-up event Saturday morning 29 April from 10:00-12:00. Pizza and refreshments provided starting at 1:00. (Rain date is 30 April, 11:00-2:00.) The Committee will be holding an informational meeting Monday evening 24 April, 7:30 in the Town Hall, entitled “Forum for Saving the Woods”. The purpose is to discuss with Town residents the Committee’s activities and plans toward restoring and maintaining healthy Town woods. The focus of the meeting will be on deer population control options. At its 3 April meeting, the Committee discussed plans for the upcoming informational meeting, reviewed the revised its proposed FY2018 budget, received updates on progress of the East Woods boundary survey and efforts to temporarily identify the West Woods property line along Washington Grove Lane. The Committee will meet again on Monday 1 May, 7:30.
CONTRACTS – Greg Silber
Surveying and marking of the East Woods by Snider & Associates continues and will be completed sometime in May or sooner. Contractor US Lawns was expected to complete leaf pick-up by 31 March, but leaf piles remained around Town after this date. Joli McCathran contacted the contractor and it was mutually-agreed this work will be completed within a week or so after the 31st. Invasive non-native vegetation control work by Invasive Plant Control, Inc. is expected to commence in the East Woods this spring. Recyclable yard waste pick up by Potomac Disposal resumed on 1 March. Bulk trash pick-up has been scheduled for Wednesday 17 May.
RECREATION – Shelley Winkler
A Maypole and Capture-the-Flag event for all ages is scheduled for noon on April 29 at Maple Lake, following the annual woods and lake cleanup that morning. Our dedicated Recreation Chair, Eve Zibart, has decided to retire as Recreation Chair as of the May Town Meeting. We thank her so much for serving as Chairperson, and applaud all of her work on her artfully named “Recking Crew”. We will miss her delightful news updates in the Town Bulletin. The new chair will be announced soon.
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Shelley Winkler
Any bids received in response to the RFP for spring road repairs will be opened at the April 10 Council meeting. Work will be starting to restore Second Avenue walkway.
WEBSITE – Shelley Winkler
We received a proposal from Bill Saar for importing various information from the old website, and appreciate his work to assemble the detailed information in the proposal. It will take a bit of time to respond to that proposal, and I will bring it to Council when we have a recommendation. Volunteers Christine Dibble and Mimi Bolotin have started meeting with me on a regular basis to discuss reorganization of the information on the website. This is a lengthy process, and entails looking at each website page to determine where updates, re-editing or complete revision may be needed. It also involves presenting information in a manner which is easily accessible to the reader, such as how the information layout is presented on each page. When this process is completed, we plan to distribute a chart assigning Town officials and volunteers their respective website pages with a time schedule for keeping them current.
INTERGOVERNMENTAL – Joli A. McCathran
Intergovernmental: Although the Highway User Funding has been a the number one Maryland Municipal League priority for eight years, none of the five Highway User Funds bills passed the Maryland Legislature in the 2017 Legislative Session. The Legislature goes into Sine Die on Monday, April 10. This is a serious disappointment to the Town and other municipalities throughout the state.