12 August 2019 | Approved: 9 September 2019
Mayor John Compton called the regular meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Councilors Darrell Anderson, Charlie Challstrom, Rob Gilmore, Marida Hines, Patty Klein, Audrey Maskery, and Treasurer Mary Challstrom. Also present were Sat Amagai, Emily Cavey, Georgette Cole, Dave Cosson, Jan Davis, Jay Everhart, Liz Everhart, Larry French, Robert Johnson, Joan Mahaffey, Meghan O’Connell, Carolyn O’Connor, Virginia Quesada, Liz Robertson, Jane Seegal, Mary Warfield, Gray Yachup, and Missy Yachup.
Approval of Agenda:
Patty Klein moved to approve the agenda. Darrell Anderson seconded the motion. Mayor Compton explained that the proposed draft resolution concerning the govern-ing of Town committees is at the end because it is new business. The Council will need time for consideration. Although the resolution will be introduced, there will not be much discussion and it will be on the agenda for the September TC meeting. Audrey Maskery asked for the removal of item #12. Vote: 6-0, approved, as amended.
Jan Davis – presented a letter to the Mayor and Council expressing strong opposition to any plan that allows a County bike path on any Town property. There was a discussion about control and approval of such a project. Ms. Davis also expressed her support for the proposed managed deer hunts to protect the woods.
Approval of Minutes:
Patty Klein moved to approve the July 8, 2019 Town Council Meeting minutes. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion.
Vote: 5-0, approved. Charlie Challstrom abstained as he was not in attendance at the July meeting.
Treasurers Report 2019-July pdf
Darrell Anderson moved acceptance of the June 2019 Treasurer’s Report, the final Treasurer’s Report for FY2019. Rob Gilmore seconded the motion. Treasurer Mary Challstrom reported with all adjusting journal entries completed, there was no use of Reserves in FY2019. Vote: 6-0, accepted.
Darrell Anderson moved acceptance of the Treasurer’s Report for July 2019. Marida Hines seconded the motion. Treasurer Mary Challstrom reported things look very typical for July. Vote: 6-0, accepted.
Appointment of a Nicho’s Trees Advisory Committee – Discussion & Council action:
Mayor Compton explained the origin of the memorial fund for Nicho, how some of the money has been spent and the need to clarify and ensure that Meghan and Paul Lembesis (Nicho’s parents) have a say in how the funds are spent. Rob Gilmore moved to form a committee made up of three (3) members; Paul, Meghan, a nominated third person. Charlie Challstrom seconded the motion. Audrey Maskery with Council responsibility for Memorials, will serve in an advisory position. Patty Klein suggested the Memorials Committee advise on the funds. Audrey Maskery noted she alone is the Memorials Committee. Rob Gilmore suggested the proposed new advisory committee have this role for the Nicho’s Trees funds, and that this can put recent concerns to rest. Marida Hines called the circumstances unusual and unique. Vote: 6-0, approved.
Ordinance 2019-03 Sale of Land Occupied by a Main Building at 315 Grove Avenue Ini-tially Constructed in Part on Land Owned by the Town of Washington Grove –Discussion and Adoption:
The Mayor and Council reviewed the final version which includes the Town at-torney’s input. A Covenant was included requiring a negotiation period, in the event there is a claim of non-compliance with a covenant, prior to legal remedy. The option for reversion of ownership of the Town land was removed from the Covenant specifying remedies for non-compliance. A number of clarifying changes suggested by the attorney of Jane Seegal, the prop-erty owner, were also discussed, and some accepted. Patty Klein moved to approve Ordinance 2019-03 pdf as amended. Rob Gilmore seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0, approved as amended.
Ordinance 2019-12 Sale of Land Occupied by a Main Building at 409 5th Avenue Initially Constructed in Part on Land Owned by the Town of Washington Grove – Introduction and Discussion. Set date for Public Hearing:
Charlie Challstrom moved to introduce Ordinance 2019-12 pdf and set the date for a Public Hearing on 26 August 2019. Darrell Anderson seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0.
Mayor Compton reported the referenced home (409 5th Ave.) is under contract but is contingent upon approval of land sale. The Town process would cause the Ordinance to become effective in October which is a hardship for the O’Connor’s. The Mayor presented a plan to help with the timing: introduce the ordinance now, set the Public Hearing for 26 August 2019, and approve the Ordinance at a Special Town Council meeting on the same date. Both were approved for August 26th.
Resolution 2019-11 Authorizing Deer Management Bow Hunting Sessions – Discussion and Adoption:
Patty Klein moved to introduce Resolution 2019-11 pdf . Marida Hines seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0.
Mayor Compton reported that Local Government Insurance Trust (LGIT), in response to Treasurer Mary Challstrom, said the Town’s liability coverage included sanctioned bow hunting. Patty Klein summarized and thanked all involved in developing the deer management strategy and noted the Woods Committee participation in writing the Resolution. Darrell Anderson expressed his need for more clarity about the season and when they can actually hunt. The Mayor and Town Council reviewed the Resolution and debated various nuances in the document. Patty Klein moved to adopt and make effective Resolution 2019-11 without amendments. Charlie Challstrom seconded the motion. Vote: 5 (Challstrom, Gilmore, Hines, Klein, Maskery) -1 (Anderson), adopted.
Action: Mayor Compton appointed Councilor Klein as the Town Contact responsible for communicating information to the Town Office and Mayor about the bow hunt session per the approved Resolution. The Mayor indicated that he will sign the necessary paperwork authorizing hunting by the Bow Hunter Fire Fighters of Maryland as soon as possible, after verifying the required insurance is in place.
Sewer Line Replacement on Ridge Road by WSSC – Report from July 30th Meeting:
Mayor Compton reported the proposed WSSC Ridge Road sewer replacement project has been expanded to include sewer replacement on Grove Avenue. He explained, in detail, what WSSC is proposing and the impacts it will likely have on newly paved roads and large trees. WSSC will draw up a paving agreement for Ridge Road that will involve repaving the entire road. The work on Grove Avenue could impact some large trees and merits another on-site meeting.
Action: The Town Clerk will contact WSSC to schedule a meeting to discuss the proposed work on Grove Avenue.
Town Website Usability Testing – Update from Councilor Marida Hines:
Marida Hines reported there will be five (5) volunteers completing 9 specific tasks. So far, three (3) volunteers have been scheduled for the testing. Arlene McCrehan and Marida Hines will oversee the testing.
Purchase of Speed Humps – Update from Councilor Darrell Anderson:
Darrell researched the cost for purchasing table-top speed humps. Two (2) humps that are two (2) inches high will cost $4,000. There was a discussion about the following:
- Height of the humps – Is two (2) inches enough?
- Unrealistic expectation of driving less than the 15 mph.
- The bumps on Chestnut Road.
- Speed “cushions” versus speed humps vs speed tables.
- YouTube videos (Darrell will send link).
The Council reviewed last month’s decision to purchase two speed humps.
Action: Councilor Anderson will review further options and discuss with the Mayor before purchase of speed humps (as authorized in July by the Town Council).
Town Council Reports:
Charlie Challstrom explained his reference to the demolition of a shed that straddle the properties at 203 2nd Avenue and 315 Grove. Charlie Challstrom suggested a resolution like the one written for fences in Block 11 may be a way to help with clar-ity in the area. Patty Klein questioned the second paragraph in Rob Gilmore’s Woods Commit-tee report implying a dispute happened at the WC Meeting, which she stated did not happen, and what is appropriate since he did not attend the meeting. A discussion of what a Council Report should contain ensued, including the following:
- The duty/role of committee liaisons.
- Reporting actions that take place outside committee meetings
- The nature of Council Reports: is opinion appropriate, or only factual information.
- Should a Liaison report be censored.
- Should a Liaison report be a cooperative effort with committee chairs.
Patty Klein moved to acknowledge the dispute and delete the remainder of the second paragraph. The motion died for lack of a second.
Audrey Maskery expressed her dismay about the current lack of kindness toward one another that she has observed in the Town Council meetings. This is not the way of our Town.
It was moved and seconded to approve the Council Reports and post them on the website.
Vote: 5 (Anderson, Challstrom, Gilmore, Hines, Maskery) – 1 (Klein), approved.
PEPCO Tree Pruning – Mayor Compton reported receipt of letters announcing PEPCO tree pruning. As is routine, Audrey Maskery, as Forestry and Beautification liaison, will interface with Pepco.
Photo Shoot – A non-resident requested use of Maple Lake for a photo shoot of her daughter. Lake Committee Chairman John Hutchinson will handle the request.
Open Meetings Ruling – The Open Meetings Act Board ruled if to many e-mail exchanges among even one or two public body members prior to a vote is a violation of the Act and should not happen. The Mayor and Council discussed using language to include on the e-mails such as; For Information Only and Not For Discussion as a reminder about potential violations.
Parking – Mayor Compton will post parking reminders on a car with no tags parked on Brown Street and on a full trailer also on Brown Street.
Resolution 2019-13 Providing For Proper Governance Of Washington Grove Committees – Councilor Rob Gilmore. Introduction and Discussion:Rob Gilmore moved to introduce Resolution 2019-13 pdf . Darrell Anderson seconded the motion. By way of context, Mayor Compton stated this Resolution represents a starting point for a thorough discussion of whether the Town Council should provide guidance to the Town’s committees to facilitate volunteer par-ticipation, noting that the committees substitute for paid staff in larger municipal governments. He also stated that one reason he ran again for Mayor was because of a series of highly disturbing incidents reported by residents involving elected officials and our unofficial committees. The Mayor and Council briefly discussed the following:
- The intent of this Resolution and the Resolution timeline and process
- The importance of addressing a perceived decline in volunteerism on committees.
- Whether a working group or a task force to examine committee function was appropriate.
- Defining the role of committees.
- Whether the requirements specified in the Resolution were really the “minimum” neces-sary.
- An alternative of creating an operational guidebook for volunteer committees.
Rob Gilmore expressed regret that the late hour precluded hearing input on this proposal from the various Committee Chairman and others attending the Town Council meeting. This topic will likely be on the agenda for the September meeting of the Town Council. Pat Klein suggested the Mayor form a Committee Chairs Working Group to be transparent and inclusive, and to engage the town committees in this process since the outcome will directly impact them.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 10:22 p.m.
Kathryn L. Lehman
TC REPORTS – August 2019
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – Darrell Anderson
Meetings: The regular monthly meeting was held on July 16, 2019. The next regularly-scheduled meeting will be held August 20, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. in the McCathran Hall Council Room.
The HPC reviewed a plan for shed demolition and fence construction at 203 Second Avenue (Polston). After discussion, it was determined that a review will be written with a few questions for the owner.
The HPC reviewed a plan for modifications to an existing accessory structure at the rear of 211 Maple Avenue (Yachup) and construction of a one-and-a-half story garage structure with a shed dormer. A review will be written.
Update on Ordinance Adopting an Amendment to the WG Zoning Ordinance to Modify Definition of Dormer and to Modify the Minimum Lot Line Standards for the RR-3 Zone
The HPC will forward suggestions for conditions to be added on any new house construction in the RR-3 zone. The goal of conditions is to assure that the new house be compatible with the character of the Town and neighborhood.
Master Plan 2019
The HPC continues to work on sections being reviewed by the Master Plan Committee. One suggestion is to move all sections on parks to Section 5. This would include Maple Lake and separate parks from forests.
MSA Tour (Maryland State Archives Tour)
MSA toured the Town on July 22. Administrators and interns visited to hear a presentation from the HPC Chair and to take a walking tour of the Town.
Washington Grove 150th Anniversary
Discussions are beginning on possible celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the Town in 2022. Input will be gathered from various sources.
Demolition of a front porch at 125 Grove Avenue has been completed without a permit or plans on record for repair or rebuilding the porch. Construction indicates that a sunroom or porch with windows may be planned. The HPC will issue a letter to the owner requesting details.
STREET SIGN RESTORATION PROJECT – Darrell Anderson
Nothing to report.
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Darrell Anderson
WSSC Meeting and Repaving:
The Mayor and several Council members met with representatives from WSSC regarding planned work on Ridge Road, which will impact our recent repaving. They walked us through sections of the road where pipes are to be replaced, including pipes from the road to specific residences. They will be digging up sections of the recently repaved road. After discussions, WSSC said they would plan to repave the entire section of Ridge Road that is impacted and the intersection of Ridge Road and Brown Street at no cost to the Town. In addition, they suggested that since they would be trenching sections of Ridge Road that were not repaved (between 202 and 212 Ridge Road), they would repave that section and charge the Town for that repaving. This seems a good solution, although that section was not on our repaving list for the next two years; it will need to be repaved in the near future. This means the Council will need to decide to add this to the repaving contract once we have an estimate of the cost of this work.
The Lighting Committee met on July 24, 2019; the next meeting will be on August 23, 2019, in the McCathran Hall Council Room. A proposal for committee procedures, presented at the June meeting, was discussed and passed with revisions. The purpose will be to add a process for electing officers, determining memberships, and voting rights.
The Committee developed a list of attributes for lighting on roads and walkways and developed a draft of recommendations. Attributes include:
Aesthetics – lighting that maintains the historic integrity of the town.
Light footprint – the committee preferred pools of light vs continuous swathes of light.
Color Temperature -3000k or lower likely 2700k. We are also investigating lumens and foot candle recommendations.
Wattage – wattage to be around 18 or 24 watts.
Site specific lighting – we would like to explore different lighting for the streets vs the walkways both in terms of height and fixtures.
Light Intrusion – TWG Lighting committee recommends that the any new light fixture have a full horizontal cut off and therefore be dark sky compliant. Additionally, all new fixtures should have the provision to attach shields to prevent intrusion into homes.
Smart Lighting – we would like to explore modern features as “smart lighting” in terms of daylight sensors, 2am -6am light reduction and possibly motion detectors for certain areas.
Solar Lighting – some committee members are interested in exploring solar lighting near Woodward Park or areas in TWG that have a lot of sun.
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – Darrell Anderson
Nothing to report.
PLANNING COMMISSION – Charlie Challstrom
Building Permits: Planning Commission (PC) report on the following requests –
- 211 Maple Ave – application for reconstruction of garage on hold pending definition refinement
- 201 Brown St – PC approved modification of plans for 4-foot high fence
- 203 Second Ave – application for demolition of shared shed on hold pending Board of Zoning Appeals action on the two following requests for shed reconstruction
- 203 Second Ave – PC denied building permit application for shed reconstruction
- 315 Grove Ave – PC denied building permit application for shed reconstruction
Previous Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) Application: At the July PC meeting, the PC voted to withdraw acceptance of the two-part ZTA application (Dormer Definition, and RR-3 Zone Lot Standards) to allow for additional consideration. During the August PC meeting, there was PC support for separating these issues, with the benefit of the HPC comments on the proposed ZTA.
Definitions of Dormer and Half-Story: The HPC comments and further PC review of the proposed garage reconstruction helped focus attention on compatibility and clarity of definitions of dormer and half-story. PC members expressed support for initiating a new ZTA application to revise the definition of half-story. The new application is being drafted for sharing with the HPC in time for their next meeting.
Minimum Lot Standards for the RR-3 Zone: Some PC members expressed support for an adjusted minimum lot size of 13,900 sq.ft. to limit subdivision of the only property in the RR-3 zone to two lots. But there was not PC action to move ahead with the previous ZTA application. Discussion focused instead on the potential for conditions to be associated with any subdivision of RR-3 property, e.g. parking, driveway access, and/or design requirements. It was suggested such conditions could be crafted and added to Article VII (Zoning) as being specific to the RR-3 Zone, and also added to Article XII (Subdivision Regulations). Further PC consideration of the RR-3 Zone standards and conditions may await an application for a zoning text amendment from the affected property owners.
Master Plan Update: A 2019 Master Plan Work Session will be held on August 21. We will be reviewing decisions made on Sections 5 and 6 on July 17, then continue on to Section 6.3 now re-titled “Other Sensitive Areas.” This will include Maple Lake. If there is time, we will discuss the work needed on Section 7, Water Resource Management. A copy of the latest 2019 Master Plan Working Draft and the draft minutes from each work session is available on the Town web site as a link on the Master Plan page.
Joint PC/HPC Worksession: A joint PC/HPC work session has been proposed to address several issues of common interest. These issues might include dormers and half stories, and demolitions. PC Chairman Peter Nagrod and HPC Chairman Bob Booher will coordinate this joint work session.
MCCATHRAN HALL – Charlie Challstrom
McCathran Hall Cleaning: Mayor Compton has approved the continuation of our arrangement with SEEC for cleaning. We are pleased with the SEEC team’s work.
MONTGOMERY MUNICIPAL CABLE (MMC) – Charlie Challstrom
The Town is a participating member of MMC, a nonprofit organization established to operate a cable station on behalf of municipalities in Montgomery County. MMC has launched an effort to work closer with member municipalities, e.g. in-studio services, website videos, community updates, equipment and training, recording community events, support for creation of archive video material, and intern opportunities. Somerset Mayor Jeffrey Slavin and Kensington Mayor Tracey Furman are taking the lead to engage Mayors from the other municipalities with MMC. MMC has recently included Washington Grove Fourth of July activities in video. Another MMC video project is planned to showcase the Washington Grove’s street name sign restoration. MMC usually provides a weekly email “MMC Inside Scoop” to highlight the latest programming. I forward this weekly message to the Washington Grove Yahoo Group.
FCC Enforces Franchising Laws to Promote Broadband Deployment: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an Order on August 1st that provides that Cable companies may deduct the cost of in-kind services provided to local governments from their franchise fees. The Town of Washington Grove currently receives in-kind services, i.e., free internet service for the Town Hall from Comcast as negotiated with the 2013 renewal of the Comcast franchise agreement. Based on this FCC Order, we anticipate an eventual reduction in cable franchise fee revenue.
Separate from the above Report — Bottom Line — Our currently budgeted $6,000 in annual cable franchise fee revenue may be reduced in the future, and/or the Town may have to begin paying for internet service for the Town Hall. Other factors, e.g. the number of households reportedly “cutting the cable” for cable-related service, will also affect future revenues as the Comcast and Verizon franchise agreements are negotiated and renewed.
CONTRACTS – Rob Gilmore
Nothing to report
DOG PARK – Rob Gilmore
Nothing to report
WOODS – Rob Gilmore
The Woods Committee held a meeting on August 5, 2019. The Committee has been focusing on progressing its deer management efforts as well as the other aspects of its forest restoration plan, and on revisions to the Town Master Plan relating to the Woods. The Committee has finalized its proposed “Resolution Authorizing Deer Management Bow Hunting Sessions” and has presented it for consideration at the August 12, 2019 Town Council meeting.
Over the course of July 2019, a dispute arose among members of the Woods Committee regarding the planting of additional trees in the Nicho’s Trees area, which gave rise to concerns regarding the funds donated for the Nicho’s Trees area, and, more broadly, the proper role, functioning, and governance of Town committees, in particular whether committees operate in a manner conducive to encouraging volunteerism among the Town residents—issues that should be addressed by the Town Council.
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – Rob Gilmore
On Saturday, August 3, 2019, Steve Blau of the Shady Grove Crossing community contacted Charlie Challstrom to report that a Town Woods tree had fallen and supposedly damaged a newly-planted Shady Grove Crossing tree. The Town is investigating and liaising with Shady Grove Crossing on this matter.
WEBSITE – Marida Hines
Nothing to report.
RECREATION – Marida Hines
The next meeting of the Recreation Committee is October 16, 2019.
Following up on their “highlights” 1.5 minute video of the Music Weekend Youth Recital on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgoYww-MV1g) Montgomery Municipal Cable has now produced a full edited half-hour version at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ki_N3Ouv6BU. The video features a short intro followed by footage of Town youth displaying their impressive artistry.
Summer in the Parks ended well. The Rec Committee is working with a group to put on a modified version of Labor Day activities. The games have been moved to the weekend after Labor Day to see if this is more convenient with holiday schedules and will allow more people to participate.
COMMUNICATIONS WORK GROUP – Marida Hines
The Communications Working Group met on July 24.The bulk of the meeting addressed the finalization of the usability testing. A final list of nine tasks was agreed on, each linked to a typical goal for a user of our website.
There was considerable discussion of who to use as test subjects to ensure the testing included both power users and those less familiar with technology, as well as young people and at least one person from outside of Town. A final roster was agreed on and testing sessions are being scheduled. Testing will be carried out by Marida Hines and Arlene McCrehan and is planned to be complete by the end of August.
The CWG also decided to begin to identify next steps in a joint initiative to plan for emergency communications, focusing first on actions that can be deployed immediately without the need for additional infrastructure or technology.
There was a long discussion about whether volunteerism is down or whether it is a perception issue or a normal lull. Marida passed on discussion she has had with the Council and with the Recreation Committee leadership that indicated their support for a Volunteer Fair and re-invigorating or re-establishing a Welcoming Committee for new residents. To be continued.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS & SAFETY COMMITTEE – Pat Klein
The EPSC met on July 25, 2019 and discussed several topics. The committee continued working to update the draft document “Town of Washington Grove Risk Management and Safety Procedures” based on various sources recommended by the Local Government Insurance Trust. This document describes the Mayor and Town Council oversight responsibilities for risk management and accident investigation, and required safety training for Town employees.
Several months ago, the Mayor sent a letter to the commercial corner owner to notify about the need to repair the walkway steps handrail. No response yet has been received so the Mayor initiated the Montgomery County ‘311’ process to request County inspection of the damaged handrail to protect public safety.
The EPSC recommends consultation with the Stormwater Management Committee (SMC) to request County DOT to address stormwater runoff impacts to traffic safety along Railroad Street. The SMC is preparing a Request for Proposals to solicit stormwater runoff recommendations for mitigation with an initial focus on stormwater impacts in the West Woods.
An EPSC member attended the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) meeting to gather information on improving town communication technologies. There also were community planning reports on Preparedness Month in September. The EPSC has made plans for a Preparedness Month event at McCathran Hall, to be held Saturday, September 21, 2019. Arrangements have been finalized with Joe Corona (MC-OEMHS) for his participation. A Town Bulletin announcement was sent to the Town Clerk.
The next meeting is scheduled on August 22, 2019.
MAPLE LAKE – Pat Klein
No meeting was held this month. The July water quality testing results for E. coli and Enterococcus were reported in the acceptable range with E.coli = 9.7 MPN/100 ml (EPA max 235) and Enterococcus = 55.4 MPN/100 ml (EPA max 61). Next meeting will be on August 15, 2019.
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION – Audrey Maskery
The next F&B meeting will be held September 11th 7:30p.m in the Council Room.
MAINTENANCE – Audrey Maskery
After consultation with Craig English on final position of the new ‘Craig English Athletic Field’ (dedicated on the Fourth of July 2019) the sign, together with the refurbished Woodward Park sign has now been placed at the tennis court entrance of Woodward Park.
A dead tree fallen from Town property (Ridge Road) onto Shady Grove Crossing, was removed in gesture of goodwill by Maintenance, although this wasn’t a Town responsibility.
All SITP equipment stored in the maintenance shed was moved to the Town Hall in preparation for SITP 2019 use. Flotation equipment was inflated ready for the Maple Lake SITP day. The SITP equipment was returned to storage at conclusion of the SITP usage.
The clay tennis courts will continue to receive weekly watering, rolling and weeding, keeping the courts in good playing condition for Town residents.
A Bees nest was discovered at Maple Lake and safely removed.
MEMORIALS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report.
PLAYGROUNDS – Audrey Maskery
Maintenance has filled cracks in the basketball court, black toped; then re-marked the playing area.
Nothing to report.