14 December 2015 | Approved: 11 January 2016
Mayor Joli McCathran called the regular meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Council Members Georgette Cole, Alison Faupel, Audrey Maskery, John McClelland, and Bud O’Connor. Also present were Treasurer Mary Challstrom and residents Ann Briggs, Linda Buel, Charlie Challstrom, Kathi Carey-Fletcher, Marida Hines, Terri Johnson, Pat Klein and Joan Mahaffey.
Mayor McCathran called the public hearing for Ordinance 2015-06 to order at 7:31 p.m. This ordinance is a zoning text amendment. She asked for public comment. There was none. By general consensus, the Council voted not to hold the record open. This public hearing closed at 7:33 p.m.
Mayor McCathran called the public hearing for Ordinance 2015-07 to order at 7:33 p.m. She asked for public comment. There was none. By general consensus, the Council voted not to hold the record open. This public hearing closed at 7:34 p.m.
Approval of Agenda
Bud O’Connor moved to approve the agenda. Alison Faupel seconded the motion. Mayor McCathran added the following:
- Woods Group report after public appearances.
- Affirming Washington Grove’s Tolerance for Differing Religions and Ethnicities and Expressing Support for Refugees after the Woods Group.
- Maryland Comptroller’s letter after the Treasurer’s Report.
- Action on Ordinance 2015-06 after action on Ordinance 2015-07.
- Vote: 5-0, as amended.
Linda Buel (405 Chestnut Ave.) stated she has lived in her home for over 30 years. She expressed her concerns about the traffic on lower Chestnut Road becoming out of control and it is worse than she can ever remember. On a recent rainy morning (6:30 a.m.) she counted 18 cars making the illegal turn at McCauley Street and Washington Grove Lane and speeding on Chestnut Road. These cars often ignore the STOP signs as well. In addition to Town residents, Saturday morning church-goers appear to be among the many who break the law as well. She asked the Mayor and Council to please take action. She suggested temporarily closing Chestnut Road at McCauley Street to force a change in habit. There was a discussion about bringing the Traffic Safety Committee back to address this problem, changing traffic patterns and asking Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) for assistance. The Clerk will call MCDOT.
Forest Stewardship Plan (Woods Group Report): Pat Klein distributed handouts to all. She gave a brief history of how/why the report came to be. She reported the Group is very pleased with the report. Georgette Cole moved to pay the remaining balance of $2,054.00 to Parkland Woodland Services Inc. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion.
The Woods Group asked to attend the Council’s January meeting to discuss spending of funds allotted this fiscal year for Woods activities, suggestions for FY 2016-17 budgeting, and posting the Forest Stewardship Plan posted on the new Town website.
Mayor McCathran brought two (2) articles in Montgomery Magazine to the attention of the Council. One (1) concerns the Town and one (1) is specifically about Town Resident Joseph Craig English.
Affirming Washington Grove’s Tolerance for Differing Religions and Ethnicities and Expressing Support for Refugees:
Ann Briggs began the conversation by voicing dissatisfaction with the position of Maryland’s Governor Hogan who took the stand to close the State to refugees. She stated we are more compassionate than that and asked the Council to consider sending a statement of support for refugees. Ann distributed a statement for consideration.
Kathi Carey-Fletcher encouraged the Council to consider signing The Charter for Compassion, a global initiative supported by 45 countries around the world.
Marida Hines stated as a native Marylander, she is disapproved of the Governor’s action. Because a town carries more weight than an individual, she hoped the Town would sign the Charter and other towns might follow suit thus balancing the world’s view of the State of Maryland.
Mayor McCathran reminded everyone of the August signing of the Mayor’s United Against Anti-Semitism Petition. She asked for input about the subject at hand.
John McClelland asked if the Council had the right to speak for the whole Town and indicated concerns about:
- Governor Hogan being made out to be the “bad guy” in his efforts to protect citizens.
- The need to protect religious rights.
- The need more input from the Town, put it in the Town Bulletin.
- He asked if the Council had the right to speak for the whole Town.
Alison Faupel stated the Governor’s action was mostly symbolic because he cannot keep people out of Maryland or the County. Her experience in security indicates refugees are being thoroughly vetted.
There was additional discussion about the following:
- Improving Maryland’s general profile.
- Having a dialogue with the Maryland Municipal League.
- Negativity in the language presented of the draft statement.
- Results in watering down language.
- The onerous process of obtaining a green card.
- Types of visas.
Mayor McCathran will follow up on this topic. She will also write something for the January Town Bulletin and put this on the Town Council agenda for January.
Approval of Minutes
Georgette Cole moved to approve the minutes of the Town Council meeting on November 9, 2015. John McClelland seconded the motion.
Bud O’Connor moved to accept the Treasurer’s Report for November 2015. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. Treasurer Mary Challstrom fielded a few questions from the Council. Vote: 5-0.
Mayor McCathran reported receipt of letter from the Comptroller of Maryland concerning over payments to municipalities. This will not likely have an effect on the Town due to the vigilance of the Town Treasurer.
Audit Report FY Ending June 2015
Alison Faupel moved to accept the Audit Report. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Treasurer Mary Challstrom fielded questions from the Council. Vote: 5-0.
Assisted Listening Devices
Bud O’Connor demonstrated and discussed a device similar to one the Town might purchase to enhance listening for hearing impaired individuals. He explained how a device like this would work. He also talked about the possibility of going with a digital version with earbuds. Bud will provide the Council with information about the cost and about a strategy for signing out the equipment.
Automated External Defibrillator (AED) for McCathran Hall – Update
John McClelland reported he contacted Guardian Fire Protection Services about a defibrillator and learned liability exposure is high. AED use must be done by licensed personnel in conjunction with a service contract. All agreed more research is necessary before purchasing this item. Treasurer Mary Challstrom will call the City of Gaithersburg for more information.
Resolution 2015-08; Regulations for the Rental of McCathran Hall
Bud O’Connor moved to approve Resolution 2015-08. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. A few changes were made. Bud O’Connor moved to approve the changes. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0.
Ordinance 2015-07; Amending Article II, Section 7
Audrey Maskery moved to approve Ordinance 2015-07. John McClelland seconded the motion. There was a brief discussion about adding no vaping (use of electronic cigarettes) to the document. It was decided to use “smoking of any kind” in order to be all-inclusive. Article II, Sections 7 will read as follows:
“Smoking of any kind within fifty (50) feet of the entrances of McCathran Hall and Town offices is prohibited. Smoking of any kind within fifty (50) feet of public playground equipment, and the shores of Maple Lake is prohibited.”
Audrey Maskery moved to approve the changes. John McClelland seconded the motion.
Ordinance 2015-06; A ZTA Amending Article VII Sections 3.327 & 4.2
John McClelland moved to approve Ordinance 2015-06. Bud O’Connor seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0.
Notification of the approval of the zoning text amendment 2015-06 and Ordinance 2015-07 will be sent to residents by December 24, 2015 in a special mailing.
Bud O’Connor moved to approve the December 2015 Council Reports for posting on the Town website. Alison Faupel seconded the motion. There was a brief discussion about the problems with parking on Boundary Street. In addition, two (2) words were capitalized in the 3rd bullet and “been” was changed to “yet to be” in the 2nd bullet under the Block 11 survey report. Vote: 5-0.
January 11, 2016 Council Meeting: Mayor McCathran announced this meeting will begin at 6:00 p.m. because the Town attorney has another commitment at 7:30 p.m. The discussion will cover the Comcast franchise agreement and the changes recommended by Suellen Ferguson. It should take approximately one (1) hour. The Town will provide the Council will a light dinner from 7:00 – 7:30 p.m. before the start of the regular meeting.
Finmarc Management, Inc. Sediment Pond: Mayor McCathran reported Steve Werts, Gaithersburg, Montgomery County, the state of Maryland and she followed up with the management company on dredging of the sediment pond on Girard Street where sludge was placed on Town land near Maple Spring. The contractor also installed the required silt fencing and is to remove the contaminate material by Tuesday.
Website Policy: Town attorney Suellen Ferguson will send a draft policy soon. It will include language about how to properly show pictures of children on the site.
Bud O’Connor presented a sample sign the Town might consider purchasing in order to collect real data about speeding and running STOP signs in Town. He recommends the Town purchase a photo cell and Cloud-based software along with the unit. This total cost would be approximately $4,000.00.
There being no further new business, the meeting adjourned at 9:49 PM.
Georgette Cole moved, John McClelland seconded the meeting be closed to the public in order to discuss personnel matters. Vote: 5-0.
The Mayor and Council went into closed session at 9:50 p.m.
TC REPORTS – January 2016
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – Georgette Cole
Review Session: Maggie Range presented documentation with background information and photos of #8 Circle located in Block 11. She told the HPC she has demonstrated good faith and complied with the Town’s directives to demolish both ponds (located on Town land) so the public pathway from Miller Drive to Second Avenue is now clear. However, the issue with having to demolish the steps to the main entrance of her home (3-4 steps encroach on public land) has not been resolved. She has consulted with many people and she has explored different options. She came to the HPC meeting to request the support of the Commission for action by the Town to provide either a permanent easement or possible sale of the small patch of land (which the current steps encroach upon) to the owner of #8 The Circle. After an in-depth discussion with Maggie, the HPC advised her that the Commission was only in a position to give advice and recommendations on the type of construction and compatibility of the structure. In reviewing the Block 11 survey with Maggie, the HPC suggested other options for her to pursue in relocating the steps to another location on her property in order to comply with the directives set forth by the Planning Commission. She thanked the HPC for their time and advice.
Commission Handbook Materials: Wendy is in the process of preparing an updated HPC handbook. Based on existing handbooks (and input from Pat Patula), the HPC approved the materials to be included, along with the Town Charter.
HPC Records: Wendy presented a draft review of the HPC Records for discussion. The basic organization of records will be fine tuned in preparation for the State Archives Records Plan. The draft review details the following:
- Official HPC Records (itemized in the records retention and disposal schedule)
- HPC Reference Materials (miscellaneous books, booklets, reports, and leaflets – these materials to remain in the Town Hall for reference)
Pre-meeting with Christian Skipper/Job Description: Pat Patula has recommended that the HPC talk with Mr. Skipper prior to the joint TC/PC/HPC meeting in January to discuss the HPC records retention and disposal schedule. Bob will send him a copy of the draft review, along with a job description for the Records Management Officer, to read through and advise the Commission if it is on the right track. Bob will invite him to the next HPC meeting to discuss these issues if Mr. Skipper feels it would be beneficial for everyone. Commission members will also prepare a list of questions and suggestions to send to Bob so he can compile the list for Mr. Skipper to address at the joint meeting.
HPC Checklist: Mimi prepared a checklist for the HPC Formal Review of Building Plans. After review and discussion, a decision was made to have Mimi email the checklist to the Town Clerk so that the document can be included with the Building Permit Application package (this page will be attached to the HPC portion of the package).
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – Georgette Cole
Nothing to report
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – Georgette Cole
Nothing to report
MAPLE LAKE – Alison Faupel
Nothing to report
PLAYGROUNDS – Alison Faupel
Nothing to report
SAFETY – Alison Faupel
Traffic Safety Report: In response to concerns brought to the Town Council in December regarding excessive speeding from the WGUMC parking lot on Saturdays, Rev. Eunjoung Joo spoke to the pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist group. He will remind the congregation about speed restrictions and urged any residents who witness speeding to report descriptions of the vehicles.
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION – Audrey Maskery
Woods Group: At their December 7 meeting the Group reviewed Parkton’s “Forest Stewardship Plan for the Town of Washington Grove”. In general, the group concluded that the report is thorough and professionally done, and will serve as a highly useful roadmap for management of the woods for years to come. The contractor did a very good job of addressing each of the Town’s comments on the draft report. Because the report clearly meets all the provisions of the Town’s contract with Parkton, the Group recommended that the Town request, and pay, a final invoice from the contractor.
The group will continue to review the report and begin listing specific actions (e.g., invasive removal) that the Town might pursue in the coming months. There will be specific recommendations, including budget recommendations, for woods management actions for the coming year to the Council in February. There will be a five year projection as well. Metrics related to success will be listed.
The January Meeting of the Woods Group will be on 1/4/16, The Group meets monthly on the first Monday.
The F&B Committee did not meet in December, their next meeting will be at 7:30 pm on Thursday, January 21 in the Council room.
MAINTENANCE – Audrey Maskery
Removed leaves from tennis courts, removed brush fallen branches & leaves throughout town. Met with Property Manager of property adjacent to West Woods, discussed removal of sediment/sludge from the storm water pond that had been dumped onto Town property. Met with Charlie Challstrom to locate Town property markers by the storm water pond.
Watered trees recently planted by Stadler Nursery. Installed a new engine on big Trac Vac.
Painted closet in Town Hall, and installed new shelving.
Purchased sand for use on roads during icing and snow, and stored sand under cover to prevent freezing.
Cleaned storm drains on Washington Grove Lane and driveway into lake entrance.
MEMORIALS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report
PLANNING COMMISSION – John McClelland
- 111 Maple Ave addition approved
- 319 Grove Ave – fence installed without building permit (requested) and needs to be moved back onto private property approximately three (3) inches
Block 11 Survey: The public walkway permitting rear access to 315 and 319 Grove Ave, 6 & 8 The Circle and 203 2nd Ave continues to be renovated. After months of meetings, discussions and correspondence with/from the Mayor, Planning Commission and Town Council the property owner of 8 The Circle continues to dismiss viable suggestions to address encroaching stairs (which were not included on the home’s original reconstruction building permit). Many alternatives for realigning the stairs, replacing the stairs with a lift or changing them to an ADA type ramp located on the home’s side entrance have apparently been rejected. Prior public land transfers (1987 – 1994) were introduced, however, none of the prior land transfers were made to accommodate an encroachment situation. Most addressed road safety issues and the Town’s position of not selling any more public land as held for over twenty years. The PC Chair attained a general consensus from the Commission that the stairs cannot remain (as the PC has no authority over Town land). The owner of #8 The Circle also mentioned that current HPC member(s) and prior Town officials disagree with the actions of the Mayor, PC and TC of not allowing the stairs to continue in violation of Town Ordinances.
Public Ways & Property Permits: The “90 day” time limit was removed from the public ways & property permit guidelines and adjusted to state the permits were valid for one year from the date of issue.
House Files: No new properties have been completed, however, a spread sheet has been developed for ease of accessing the information for future use.
MCCATHRAN HALL – John McClelland
Maintenance: Janitorial duties are proceeding in an acceptable manner.
Defibrillator: Investigation continues with equipment options and training/maintenance requirements.
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Bud O’Connor
No update on road patching
Street light communications and Pepco’s response to requests are nominal.
An electronic speed sign was looked at and tested by the town. Three rotating locations throughout the town are being looked at for traffic calming use. The sign will be brought up on the 11th for proposed purchase.
WEBSITE – Bud O’Connor
The new website is a hit, coordination and updating of content continues.
RECREATION – Bud O’Connor
Kids Dance begins a weekly program in the town hall this month.
WOODS GROUP – Greg Silber
The Woods Group has reviewed Parkton’s “Forest Stewardship Plan for the Town of Washington Grove”; provided copies and a summary of the report to the Council at its 14 December meeting; and recommended that a final contract payment be made. At the Council’s January meeting, the Group expects to provide some recommendations and, for budget-planning purposes, preliminary cost estimates (with greater detail to follow) for pursuing a number of activities contained in the report.
This Group meets the first Monday of each month, 7:30PM.
CONTRACTS – Greg Silber
Leaf collection is essentially completed for the season. Concerns over a handful of leaf piles that lingered in the last few weeks are being addressed by our contractor Green Earth. Our contract with Potomac Disposal for recycling and trash pick-up appears to be going smoothly at this time. Report any leaf piles that have remained for an extended period, or problems with trash pick-up, to Kathy Lehman.
The Town renewed its “contingency, as needed” (e.g., if Town equipment breaks down) snow removal contract with RJ Landscaping. The contract will be billed against only if services are actually used. They were not needed last year.
We have received the final report on managing the Town’s woods from Parkton Woodland Services; the Council has recommended final payment be made on the contract.
INTERGOVERNMENTAL – Joli A. McCathran
I visited Fourth Grader’s at Washington Grove Elementary to encourage the students to participate in the Maryland Municipal League’s “If I Were Mayor essay Contest.” This year’s theme is “Rising to the Challenge” on how to engage your community to make healthier communities.
At the Montgomery County Chapter of the Maryland Municipal League’s Annual Holiday Dinner, we hosted Senator Nancy King and Delegates Charles Barkley and Shane Robinson. The Montgomery County Chapter discussed the 2016 legislative priorities which includes highway user revenue funding. Additionally, the chapter is aware of our pending legislation regarding closed lakes and is supporting our efforts.