8 April 2019 | Approved: 20 May 2019
Mayor John Compton called the regular meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:56 p.m. In attendance were Councilors Darrell Anderson, Charlie Challstrom, Rob Gilmore, Marida Hines (via telephone), Patty Klein, and Audrey Maskery. Also in attendance was Treasurer Mary Challstrom. Bud O’Connor arrived at 7:25 p.m. Betsy Klinger arrived at 7:34 p.m. Birgit and Don Henninger arrived at 7:35 p.m. A number of people in attendance at the public hearing stayed for the regular meeting as well.
Approval of Agenda:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the agenda. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Patty Klein stated the Emergency Preparedness and Safety Committee report should have been on the agenda. This item will be discussed during the Council Reports. Vote: 5-0, approved, as presented. Rob Gilmore was not in the room at the time of the vote.
Christine Dibble urged the Mayor and Council to hold public hearings in the larger spaces in McCathran Hall.
Approval of Minutes:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the March 11, 2019 Town Council Meeting minutes. Darrell Anderson seconded the motion. At this time, Patty Klein had to leave the meeting to tend to a sick animal. Rob Gilmore returned. Charlie Challstrom presented an edit to his part of the Council Reports. Vote: 5-0, (Anderson, Challstrom, Gilmore, Hines, Maskery). Approved, as amended.
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the March 11, 2019 Public Hearing minutes for Ordinance 2019-01 pdf. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, approved (Anderson, Challstrom, Gilmore, Hines, Maskery).
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the March 11, 2019 Public Hearing minutes for Ordinance 2019-02 pdf. Darrell Anderson seconded the motion. Vote: 4-0, approved (Anderson, Challstrom, Gilmore, Maskery). Marida Hines abstained.
Darrell Anderson moved to approve the March 11, 2019 Public Hearing minutes for Ordinance 2019-03 pdf. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 4-0 approved (Anderson, Challstrom, Gilmore, Maskery). Marida Hines abstained.
Treasurers Report 2019-March pdf
Darrell Anderson moved acceptance of the Treasurer’s Report for March 2019. Marida Hines seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, accepted (Anderson, Challstrom, Gilmore, Hines, Maskery). Audrey Maskery expressed her displeasure with the delayed final leaf collection.
Rob Gilmore moved to transfer $10K from savings to checking in order to pay bills. Darrell Anderson seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, approved (Anderson, Challstrom, Gilmore, Hines, Maskery).
FY 2020 Budget and Tax Rate:
Mary Challstrom referenced the current copies of the draft budget. She noted that at Mayor Compton’s request, an additional note explaining the Stormwater drainage amount of $15,000 for FY20 was added: “Funds to develop a comprehensive plan to mitigate storm water damage, primarily in the Forest Preserves, threatening the lake and mature trees.”
Mayor Compton noted the tax rate remains almost unchanged and the dwelling fee is unchanged as well. Charlie Challstrom moved the Town Council recommend the budget to the Town Meeting. Rob Gilmore seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, approved as presented, (Anderson, Challstrom, Gilmore, Hines, Maskery).
Rob Gilmore thanked Treasurer Mary Challstrom for her work on the budget. Praise all around.
Ordinance 2019-05; FY 2020 Budget – Introduction:
Charlie Challstrom moved to introduce Ordinance 2019-05 pdf. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, approved (Anderson, Challstrom, Gilmore, Hines, Maskery).
Resolution 2019-06; Name of the Washington Grove Dog Park:
Rob Gilmore moved to introduce Ordinance 2019-06 pdf adopting “the Dog Spot” as the name of the Dog Park. Darrell Anderson seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, to introduce (Anderson, Challstrom, Gilmore, Hines, Maskery).
Charlie Challstrom moved to adopt Ordinance 2019-06. Rob Gilmore seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, adopted (Anderson, Challstrom, Gilmore, Hines, Maskery).
Washington Grove Planning Commission Report to the Maryland Department of Planning for FY 2018 – Approval to Transmit
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve for transmittal this annual report required by the State pdf. Rob Gilmore seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, approved (Anderson, Challstrom, Gilmore, Hines, Maskery).
Ordinance 2019-03 Authorizing the Sale of Land Occupied by a Main Building at 315 Grove Avenue Initially Constructed in Part on Land Owned by the Town of Washington Grove – Discussion:
Mayor Compton explained the document contained some new language describing a process for resolving potential noncompliance 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.
8:30 p.m. – At this time, Patty Klein returned to the meeting.
Pros and cons of removing the reversion option were discussed, particularly as it continues to raise marketability issues and is onerous on the property owner. Suing in Court for compliance may be acceptable if the Town could cite a failed negotiating process and be reasonably insured of recovering the costs involved.
Actions – Mayor Compton will write another draft which will include language from the Town attorney, removal of the reversion language, and two (2) new whereas statements explaining the Town’s sole interest to be preservation of historic integrity. At the request of Jane Seegal (315 Grove Ave.) the Council agreed to delete the word “initially” from the title, which becomes:
“Authorizing the Sale of Land Occupied by a Main Building at 315 Grove Avenue Constructed in Part on Land Owned by the Town of Washington Grove”.
This item will be on the June agenda of the Town Council meeting. Rob Gilmore would like the option of voting on this item even sooner, perhaps early May, with the Town attorney’s comments available.
Ordinance 2019-04; Permitting Deer Management Hunting with Conditions – Introduction:
Charlie Challstrom moved to enact Ordinance 2019-04 pdf as presented. Darrell Anderson seconded the motion. It was noted the reference to “State” in #4 includes the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. Mayor Compton recapped the public’s concern about killing deer and the efficacy of doing so. Darrell Anderson expressed concern over the number of deer that need to be culled to achieve an acceptable population and stasis (70%). Patty Klein noted even if contraception was successfully used, we would still have deer consuming the understory, they just wouldn’t be fertile. Rob Gilmore expressed his opposition to killing the deer and support for exclosures, while recognizing that exclosures have downsides as well; injuries, starvation, and can’t hunt them out. It was suggested that culling deer and using exclosures together could work. This ordinance should be in place in order to get a commitment from the sharp shooters for this fall.
The question was called. Vote: 5 in favor, (Challstrom, Gilmore, Hines, Maskery, Klein), 1 opposed, (Anderson). Ordinance adopted.
9:10 p.m. Rob Gilmore had to leave the meeting to shuttle his children home.
Resolution 2019-07 Procedures for Absentee Balloting – Discussion and Adoption:
Charlie Challstrom moved to adopt Resolution 2019-07 pdf. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion.
9:15 p.m. Rob Gilmore returned. Vote: 6-0.
Audit Services RFP: Bid Opening and Award of Contract:
Mayor Compton opened RFP’s from three (3) bidders.
Lindsey & Associates
$ 6,700.00 (2019)
$ 6,876.00 (2020)
$ 7,068.00 (2021)
$ 7,280.00 (2022)
$ 7,440.00 (2023)
DeLeon & Stang
$ 11,950.00 (2019)
$ 12,250.00 (2020)
$ 13,950.00 (2021)
$ 7,500.00 (2019)
$ 7,500.00 (2020)
$ 7,500.00 (2021)
$ 7,500.00 (2022)
$ 7,500.00 (2023)
Darrell Anderson moved to accept the RFP from Lindsey & Associates. Rob Gilmore seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0, approved.
Council Reports – Discussion & Approval:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the Council Reports and post them on the website. Patty Klein seconded the motion. The Mayor and Council discussed the following:
- Removal of red gate at Brown Street and Hickory Road and replacing it with bollards to provide a safer way to navigate the area.
- Addressing the pavement collapse on the Town side of Railroad Street at the Humpback Bridge.
- Installing a barrier on the Town side of Railroad Street at the Humpback Bridge.
Audrey Maskery suggested looking at a report done by the Woods Group during the time Ann Briggs was Chair.
Charlie Challstrom asked if the Town attorney had weighed–in on the installation of small cellular antennas on telephone poles. Mayor Compton reported Suellen urged him to get regulations in place. He said the Town Council should start working on these right now. Although House Bills died last summer, amended versions will likely come back soon. Rob Gilmore volunteered to work on this item. Vote: 6-0, approved.
Mayor Compton reported the following:
- Montgomery County Department of Transportation has proposed the addition of a new salt storage building near the existing barns that back up to Town land near Brown Street extended. This a mandatory referral and the meeting will take place on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 at the M-NCPPC offices on Crabbs Branch Way. Someone brought up the original trees planted behind the salt barns have died due to lack of care. Joan Mahaffey stated this might be a good time to correct complaints about the original salt barns including the violation of the 50 foot setbacks.
- There was a joint meeting with Gaithersburg and the County where the proposed bikeway connection was discussed. Both Gaithersburg and Montgomery County are doing studies of this project. The County would like to know what Washington Grove could contribute to the planning. Will we allow the bikeway to be on Town streets?
- The Town Attorney’s opinion is that we cannot legally specify a future date for enactment of an ordinance in order to put the required notification in the Town Bulletin and not require a special mailing. She suggested a Charter revision revising the 10 day Notice requirement.
Mayor Compton asked for a sense of the Council in reference to a monetary bonus for Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts because of the money he has saved the Town due to his ability to implement and complete many large projects including but not limited to; the bridge at Maple Lake, Drainage work on Acorn Lane, Generator barrier, kitchen renovation and the Dog Park. The Council approved a $2,000.00 bonus. Marida Hines abstained.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 10:10 p.m.
Kathryn L. Lehman
TC REPORTS – April 2019
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – Darrell Anderson
Meetings: The regular monthly meeting was held on March 19, 2019. The next regularly-scheduled meeting will be held April 16, 2019.
Bryant Foreman (412 4th Avenue) attended to discuss plans for renovation and addition. The purchase of the property is in progress and Mr. Foreman hopes to begin construction at that time. A second-floor addition is planned for the area of the residence adjacent to Johnson Alley. Mr. Foreman was encouraged to contact the Planning Commission to address zoning questions.
The HPC will review the “Appendix C” document for 409 5th Avenue (Bud O’Connor). The owner requested that this document be reviewed and updated.
Updating and Expanding the 1980 National Register of Historic Places Historic District Nomination:
The HPC received the draft NR Nomination from Robinson & Associates and HPC review is in progress. It was decided that HPC edits should be limited to areas of previous review from worksheets that have not been properly/adequately incorporated by Robinson & Associates into the Nomination. It is hoped that the Nomination will be completed in time for the Governor’s Consulting Committee’s October meeting.
Master Plan 2019:
Previous work session did not finish the review/edit of Transportation section. The HPC still must review and submit comments on Section 5 (Recreation and Parks) and Section 6 (Environmental).
Annual Report on Archives:
Pat Patula, Town Archivist, provided the 2018 Annual Report including the following:
a. Collections Care – Archives Storage Area
b. Records Management Plan
c. Past Perfect Program
d. Town Website – make electronic historic records available to public
e. Equipment – implement uniform standards with State of MD
f. Public Education – National Register Nomination Update; Town Walking Tour; Street Sign Restoration – initiate documentary
g. Budget Recommendation Summary for 2019
315 Grove Avenue Ordinance Update:
The HPC indicated that the Ordinance still requires correction from HPC on the aluminum siding material. The siding was removed and replaced with cement siding on the northeast side of the residence after structure fire at the adjacent property several years ago.
Annual Budget Review:
The HPC reviewed the draft of their FY 2019/2020 budget and highlighted items to be completed before the end of the FY 2019 budget period, as well as items to be included in the FY 2020 budget period. These will be compiled and submitted to the Town Treasurer before the March 26 Council Budget Planning Session.
STREET SIGN RESTORATION PROJECT – Darrell Anderson
Susan Van Nostrand continues to hold gatherings to produce more of the signs for this project. Another 14 signs were completed and were turned in to the office for Steve to pick up and install.
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Darrell Anderson
Contact was made with the two contractors for this work, completed contracts were signed and submitted, and we now wait for good weather to begin repaving on the sections of road, and speed humps, designated for FY 2019.
Speed Hump Trial:
Comments on the Grove Road speed hump have been both positive and negative, but the overall assessment so far has been positive. New speed humps will be ordered and installed this spring, as well as in the next FY.
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – Darrell Anderson
M-NCPPC cut the meadow in March. They will be contacted to determine the need to treat invasive species as they are identified by Town volunteers.
PLANNING COMMISSION – Charlie Challstrom
Building Permit Application: 125 Grove Ave – proposed foundation and front porch repair work was evaluated and determined to qualify as “ordinary maintenance and repair”, thus no Town permit is required. Structural aspects of the repair may require a County permit. No work is permitted on the shed until a boundary survey is completed.
Business License Application: As referred by Mayor Compton, the application for a proposed Motor Vehicle Tag & Title Retail Office in the Commercial Corner was reviewed by the PC. The PC confirmed the proposed use complies with the Town’s Zoning Ordinance as a “business office” and the information provided with the applications indicates business hours consistent with the Town’s Commercial Regulations. The PC notes that a sign for this business would require a permit from the Mayor and payment of a $10 sign permit fee.
Annual Report to State of Maryland: All planning commissions are required to submit an annual report for the previous calendar year to the Maryland Department of Planning. This report for Calendar Year 2018 includes: the status of our Master Plan update including a development capacity analysis; Forest and Recreational rezoning for the entirety of the East Woods; zoning ordinance changes for fences and carports and accessory building setbacks; and establishing a process for sale of land occupied by main buildings initially constructed in part on land owned by the Town. This PC report, completed in a prescribed format, must be approved by the Town Council before submission to the State.
Master Plan Update: On Wednesday, April 24, there will be a Planning Commission work session at 7:30 pm in the Council Room. The PC will be reviewing/revising the 2019 Master Plan Working Draft. In March the PC worked on Section 2.3 and Section 3.8, 3.9, 3.10, and 3.11. Section 3.9 still needs to be re-written. At the April 24 session, the PC will review material recently modified then start on Section 4 (Community Facilities). As time allows, the PC will start on Section 5 (Recreation and Parks). A copy of the latest 2019 Master Plan Working Draft and the draft minutes from each work session are available on the Town website.
Porch Steps at 203 Second Ave: The PC reviewed the status of the 203 Second Ave porch steps that were not approved for construction. First reported to the PC in March 2018, these steps are in violation of Article IV as they were constructed: (1) without a required building permit, and (2) in violation of the terms of the easement granted to Eva Polston to accommodate the porch rebuilt on Town land. At that time Architect Ralph Hurst proposed a solution to reconstruct the steps within the easement area. With no apparent progress since that initial report, the PC voted this month to recommend the Mayor write a letter to Eva Polston to initiate enforcement action with the intent of correcting this violation.
Sale of Town Land: The PC received a report on the Town Council discussion of Ordinance 2019-03 to authorize sale of Town land to Jane Seegal, noting again the PC proposal to reword Section E.2 to read “The conveyed land may not be used to meet minimum building lot square footage requirements, percentage of lot coverage requirements, or set back requirements” and to delete Section E.3. The PC also acknowledged the January request from Bud and Carolyn O’Connor to purchase Town land under a portion of the front porch, noting an expectation that sufficient information was previously submitted for this portion to document its dimensions and material and the current degree of non-compliance. The PC will review and confirm the O’Connor porch information already on file from the earlier easement request, as forward progress on the purchase request awaits resolution of the pending legal and policy issues.
MCCATHRAN HALL – Charlie Challstrom
Generator Visual/Noise Screen: Town Maintenance has completed installation of visual and noise screening around the new stand-by generator, stained to match the exterior siding of the main building, as approved by the Maryland Historical Trust.
Termite Treatment: To follow up the installation of steel floor beams/columns and removal of wooden footers, the soil under the Main Hall has been treated for termites.
Kitchen Cabinets, Flooring, and Restrooms: Installation is complete for the new cabinets, countertop, sink, and flooring in the kitchenette. More of the same flooring material has been purchased for installation in the restrooms and the hallway. Steve expects to work on the restrooms and hallway flooring when these areas are less busy. The later restroom work will include installing beadboard on the walls plus protective wall covering where needed.
McCathran Hall Cleaning and Floor Restoration: McCathran Hall cleaning continues in cooperation with SEEC, an organization providing developmental assignments. Mayor Compton authorized extending this hall cleaning job trial period until about mid-May. The preferred cleaning methods for the large wood floor in the Main Hall have been updated to prepare for the floor restoration. On Monday, April 22, Hawkins Floor Company will begin with sanding, staining, and applying protective layers of polyurethane in the Main Hall, and the Main Hall will not be available for use for approximately 1 week. Activities have been rescheduled or moved to alternative locations.
CONTRACTS – Rob Gilmore
The Dog Park contract was finalized and executed.
DOG PARK – Rob Gilmore
The Committee did not hold a meeting this month. Tri County signed the contract and expects to inform us Friday, April 5 as to its expected start date. In addition, with input from the Dog Park Committee and Mayor Compton, we have prepared a draft resolution naming the Dog Park, for the Council’s consideration.
WOODS – Rob Gilmore
The Committee held a meeting on Monday, April 1.
- The Woods Committee will be supporting the proposed change to the hunting Ordinance to permit bow hunting by licensed Montgomery County Deer Management approved cooperators. The WC has not yet selected a cooperator but hopes to make that selection in the next week. A deer management informational meeting is being planned during the summer months.
- The WC and the Lake Committee are sponsoring a work day in the West Woods on Saturday, April 27, from 10:00 to 12:00 in the morning. The WC will focus on litter clean up along our west boundary with Family Services and Kelley Park and along our north boundary with Towne Crest. Depending on numbers of volunteers, we may hand pull garlic mustard and use the weed wrench to control Japanese barberry.
- There are several trees of heaven along our west boundary near the Kelley Park ball field. The WC will contact the City of Gaithersburg to inquire whether they will control/remove this aggressive Non Native Invasive plant or whether the WC may assume that responsibility.
- The WC’s brief discussion of exclosures touched on location, size, control of deer within the exclosure, cost, maintenance, and aesthetics. The WC does not intend to move forward with consideration of exclosures until after a full season of deer control through authorized hunting has occurred.
- The WC plans a presentation at the annual Town Meeting about our three-pronged approach to forest health with an emphasis on deer management.
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – Rob Gilmore
Nothing to report.
WEBSITE – Marida Hines
Nothing to report.
RECREATION – Marida Hines
The next meeting of the Recreation Committee is Wednesday, April 17, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Room. The meeting is open to the public.
Upcoming activities include Squeals on Wheels Barnyard petting zoo on Sunday April 28th from 3:00-4:30 at Woodward Park.
The Committee has been working on organizing volunteers and activities for this year’s Labor Day field games. Several residents have stepped up to the plate to fill in the gaps left by Craig English’s retirement. Responsibilities will be shared and there is still considerable need for volunteers to contribute.
Summer in the Parks is well underway, with applications open for campers, volunteers, and paid staff. While there was no paid Director last year, the Committee is reverting this year to the traditional model of having a fulltime Director or two part time Directors. Applications close April 30. Last year’s special activity of an instrument “petting zoo” was a huge hit and SITP are very much open to similar suggestions. The overall trend of declining camper applications continues as more Grove children age out of the program, and SITP is accepting applications from non-Grovers to ensure the continuation of the program. Publicity of this opportunity is being restricted to word of mouth as capacity is limited.
COMMUNICATIONS WORK GROUP – Marida Hines
The Communications Working Group (CWG) is preparing a list of recommendations and a proposed web usability testing protocol.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS & SAFETY COMMITTEE – Pat Klein
The EPSC met on March 28th to discuss the following topics.
Streetlights Update: A new streetlight fixture was installed on the Town side of the Railroad Street crosswalk to the MARC/RideOn station, but the light was not yet operating. (NOTE April 8th: The streetlight is now working).
Deer Management Update: A Town ordinance amendment to allow for town-authorized deer management bow hunting sessions is with conditions has been proposed. The EPSC discussed what safety issues should be considered. A public hearing for the proposed Town ordinance is scheduled for Monday, April 8, 2019 prior to the Town Council meeting.
House Number Signs: The EPSC reiterated plans to compile examples of house number signs to display at the Annual Town Meeting in May, with an emphasis on visibility of the house numbers.
EPSC Recommendations for Town Council Agenda:
1. Railroad Street Safety Risk – There is continued soil erosion at the edge of the pavement at the highest portion of Railroad Street where turning vehicles exit the bridge. This represents a significant safety risk for vehicles, such as school busses, that could result in a vehicle sliding or rolling off the pavement down towards Brown Street. Engineering solutions will likely be needed to stabilize and shore up the road, but will have impacts on nearby trees on Town property. The EPSC recommends initiating a County/Town joint exploration of this risk and solutions.
2. Brown Street Gate Replacement – There are safety risk and hazard for pedestrians and bicyclists going around the power pole near the red gate closing Brown Street near Hickory Road. The EPSC suggests the red gate be replaced with bollards and/or posts on Brown Street to permit safer pedestrian and bicycle passage, and recommends a Town Council decision on emergency need before replacement options are further explored.
The next EPSC meeting is Thursday, April 25, 2019
MAPLE LAKE – Pat Klein
The Lake Committee held its first meeting of the new season on March 21st. Several activities are planned to prepare the Lake for seasonal use. Maintenance tasks include repairing holes in the lake fence between gate and sheds; re-install video surveillance equipment before Lake opens on Memorial Day; rototill the beach sand. An annual Lake Clean-Up is scheduled on April 27th in conjunction with the West Woods Clean-up.
NatureWorksCWA will be contacted for algae & Pond weed control starting in early May; and Water Testing Labs will conduct water testing for coliforms monthly from June to August; the diving board will be set up on June 14th (first day of summer vacation). The Committee is recruiting for lifeguards and a swim instructor. The Mayor and Committee chair will meet with MCPD to schedule random patrols several times weekly in late May and early June prior to seasonal opening.
A pair of Canada Geese have arrived at Maple Lake. We will be using the HSUS’s protocol again to humanely addle eggs to prevent from hatching this spring.
The next Lake Committee meeting will be on Thursday, April 18, 2019.
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION – Audrey Maskery
The first F&B meeting took place March 10th, in attendance Georgette Cole (Chair), Deborah Mehlferber, and Jay Everhart. A public appearance by Meredith Beckhardt 406 5th Avenue, attended and requested consideration of a tree to replace a bush Honeysuckle removed growing on Town property between 405 and 406.
F&B discussed recommendations to the Master Plan committee. After a review of the Town Parks, the F&B Committee recommends a more formal recognition of MacGregor Park which runs along the east side of Grove Road from Dorsey Street to McCauley Street. Like Zoe Wadsworth Park it memorializes a beloved former Town resident (Margaret MacGregor 1903-1979). Like Zoe Park it has been maintained by Town Maintenance and the Forestry and Beautification Committee for many years.
MAINTENANCE – Audrey Maskery
Removed old tile floor in Town Hall kitchen and installed new floor tile.
Removed the sink and old shut off valves.
Installed new kitchen cabinets and new shut off valves.
Went to Alpine Counter-top to look at options for the kitchen.
Measured hallway and bathroom floors for new floors, purchased flooring tile ready for installation.
Installed cabinet door pulls.
Cut flower beds in Morgan Park; Circle and mulched beds.
Picked up lumber for fencing around Town Hall Generator. Cut and stained boards for generator fence, installed boards and post caps.
Cut fallen trees in the East Woods.
Dug drainage ditch on Acorn Lane, installed drainage pipe; gravel and back filled soil.
MEMORIALS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report.
PLAYGROUNDS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report.
INTERGOVERNMENTAL – Joli McCathran
No report this month.