11 December 2017 | Approved: 8 January 2018
Mayor Joli McCathran called the meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Council Members Audrey Maskery, John McClelland, Greg Silber, Shelley Winkler and Treasurer Mary Challstrom. Also in attendance were Historic Preservation Commission members Bob Booher, Wendy Harris, David Stopak and Mimi Styles. Woods Committee Co-Chair Joan Mahaffey and resident Charlie Challstrom were also in attendance.
Approval of Agenda:
Greg Silber moved to approve the agenda. Shelley Winkler seconded the motion. Adjustments were made to the agenda. Vote: 4-0, approved, as amended.
David Stopak distributed a handout to the Mayor and Council alleging incorrect statements were made at the December 6th meeting of the Planning Commission during the Report from the Town Council. He read from the document given to the Mayor and Council. His objection was the way the HPC was being described as unwilling to rewrite the language and/or to reduce Exhibit C in the 409 5th Avenue permanent easement. He stated the HPC couldn’t make any changes to Exhibit C because it was in the Town attorney’s hands thus not subject to amendments. There was an easement discussion about the following:
- Exhibit C for 15 The Circle
- HPC changes to Exhibit C for 409 5th Avenue without a Town Council review
- The limits of Ex Parte Communication
- Removing portions from 409 5th Avenue Exhibit C except language about the sliver of land under the porch
- Selling the land under the porch to the owners of 409 5th Avenue with extreme covenants as dictated by the HPC
- Unacceptable items for inclusion in the deed
- Town process and timing
- Sending new Exhibit C for 15 The Circle to the owners of 409 5th Avenue for consideration/communication before the January 4, 2018 Continuation of the Special Town Council meeting. The Council decided the HPC will send.
- Legal expenditures
- Lack of a Town policy restricting the sale of Town land
Permanent Easement for the Woman’s Clubhouse:
John McClelland brought up for consideration the possibility of a permanent easement for the Woman’s Clubhouse and questioned the different treatment ($1 per year rental agreement for the use of Town land) of that encroachment vs. the other encroaching properties included in the easement ordinance. Mayor McCathran pointed out this agreement probably came with the construction of the new Women’s Clubhouse in 1940 and was approved at that time and no change was necessary or requested by the Woman’s Club.
Approval of Minutes:
Audrey Maskery moved to approve the minutes of the Town Council meeting on November 13, 2017 and post them to the website. Greg Silber seconded the motion. Vote: 4-0, approved, as amended.
Shelley Winkler moved to accept the minutes from the Public Hearing on November 13, 2017. Greg Silber seconded the motion. Vote: 4-0.
Extensive Termite Damage in McCathran Hall:
John McClelland reported extensive termite damage was discovered in the McCathran Hall. Some support beams are severely compromised including the main beam between the renovated (1996) back wall of the octagon and the Old Council Room. The crawl space under the Old Council Room is difficult to access so floor removal is recommended to determine the extent of the damage and apply the termite treatments. Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts has indicated he could remove and replace the floor. John recommended all expenditures for McCathran Hall, other than those relating to the termite issue, be delayed. The Mayor will contact the structural engineer used for the earthquake damage will be contacted.
Treasurers Report 2017-November pdf
Shelley Winkler moved to accept the Treasurer’s Report for November. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 4-0.
John McClelland moved to transfer $20K from savings to checking to pay bills. Shelley Winkler seconded the motion. Vote: 4-0.
Bid Opening – Proposals to the Town for Updating/Revising Washington Grove’s Historic District Nomination:
Mayor McCathran opened the bids. They are as follows:
John Milner Preservation Associates
- Phase 1 – $75,000 Phase 2 – $62,000 Total = $137,000
- Phase 1 – $24,500 Phase 2 – $20,500 Total = $45,000
- Phase 1 – $17,000 Phase 2 – $12,950 Total = $29,950
The bids were turned over to the Historic Preservation Commission for review. There was a brief mention of negotiating with bidders. The HPC will use a “score sheet” to aide in their formal review and will return to the January meeting of the Town Council with recommendations for approval.
Bike Path – Follow-up:
Mayor McCathran reported she, Greg Silber and Shelley Winkler met with J.T. Thomas, Planning Section Manager, and Patricia Shepherd, Capital Projects Manager, Bikeways Coordinator of Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation, Division of Transportation Engineering. Mayor McCathran laid out their County timeline for this project. The County representatives are willing to present information to the Town any time. Greg Silber clarified such a meeting was about the process. Shelley Winkler stated the Town must watch this project.
Board of Supervisors of Elections Appointment – Clarification:
Mayor McCathran explained an error had occurred with the recent nomination of Margo Cavenagh to the Board. There are already three (3) members on the Board and no vacancy currently exists. Margo agreed to serve as the elections observer until a vacancy occurs or she is needed otherwise.
Emergency Preparedness Committee – Generator Purchase Update:
John McClelland suggested the Town hold off on the generator purchase for the McCathran Hall until the termite damage situation is more defined. Dave Cosson was commended for his hard work on this. John will talk with the EPC to clarify the need, purpose, type and size of the generator.
Vehicle Parking Limit – Four (4) per household:
Mayor McCathran reported receiving calls of concern about the number of cars (8-10) regularly parked at 201 Washington Grove Lane. She witnessed three (3) vehicles parked in the fire lane and stopped in to ask residents to clear the area. John McClelland suggested sending a letter to the household, in English and Spanish, about the number of vehicles allowed. The Mayor also called Montgomery County Housing Code Enforcement requesting they assess the number of people living in the house.
Multiple Dwelling Units:
Mayor McCathran reported there appears to be several homes in violation of the Town ordinances which restrict multi-family dwelling units. There was a discussion about the following:
- Development of a Town permitting process for room rentals
- Enforcement of the current Town Ordinances
- Degradation of neighborhoods
Greg Silber moved to approve and post the Council Reports. Shelley Winkler seconded the motion. Greg Silber inquired about John Compton’s voluntary report about the Shady Grove Sector Master Plan Advisory Committee. Mayor McCathran is fine with the report from John. Vote: 4-0.
Mayor McCathran reported the following:
Sink Hole – The sink hole on Chestnut Avenue near 302 seems to have been caused by two (2) underground springs. Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) has a sagging pipe in the area but the pipe is not the cause of the sink hole. Steve Werts will contact WSSC to schedule their fix of the pipe and the Town will hire a contractor to fill the area with rock, soil and sod.
Dog Park – The Dog Park Working Group asked for an extension until March 2018 to accomplish their goals. Mayor McCathran gave the Council an update. The newest item of concern is complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements for newly constructed facilities. The Mayor reminded the Council of the goal for the Dog Park Work Group; to determine the feasibility of a dog park and a potential/recommended location. The extension was granted.
Speed Bump Purchase – Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts will research the cost of portable speed bumps and bring his findings to the Council’s attention. He will install them in the spring after the possibility of snow plowing has passed.
Signs – Greg Silber made a motion to accept the offer from the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) to take on the stewardship of the street sign rehabilitation project. Shelley Winkler seconded the motion. There was a brief discussion about the level of enthusiasm for a project at its inception vs. ten years down the road. The HPC will put together a plan. Vote: 4-0.
Public Records Policy – Mayor McCathran reminded the Council of the existence of an Access to Public Records Policy created in 2008. She explained how people should use this policy to retrieve documents to those who make such requests.
Non-Native Plant Species Removal – Mayor McCathran received a phone call from Invasive Plant Control last Friday (12/8/17) offering to remove additional English Ivy at no charge. She approved this offer. IPC used a mixture of 2% Rodeo and 2% Garlon. Shelley asked if the Town Government could communicate to residents about this event. Mayor McCathran stated it is difficult to announce after the fact and there are no requirements to make an announcement before or after such work. Joan Mahaffey Co-Chair, Woods Committee agreed to speak with one resident who mentioned this on the unofficial Town list serve.
Continuation of the Special Town Council Meeting from Nov. 27, 2017 – Mayor McCathran reminded the Council of the meeting on January 4, 2017. There will be a closed session with the Town attorney from 6:45 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.
New School Site – Mayor McCathran reported a site in Kelly Park near Maple Lake is high on the list of recommended sites. Concerns about losing much needed recreation sites were voiced.
Graffiti – Shelley Winkler expressed her concerns about graffiti on Stop signs and other signs along Brown Street and other areas in Town. Previous studies about graffiti say we should remove it right away. Mayor McCathran offered to call Roberts Oxygen to report the graffiti on their fence.
There being no further business, the regular meeting adjourned at 10:45 p.m.
The Mayor and Council went into closed session at 10:50 p.m.
TC REPORTS – January 2018
RECREATION – Shelley Winkler
The Town Holiday Show was again a huge success with thanks to the many volunteers and organizers who wrote, performed in, constructed the sets and provided costumes for, the show.
WEBSITE – Shelley Winkler
Nothing to report
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Shelley Winkler
Nothing to report
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – John Compton
The HPC held their regular monthly meeting December 19, 2017.
Next regular meeting will be January 16, 2018.
Expansion of our National Register nomination: Three bids in response to our RFP for a consultant to prepare our application were received, and were opened at the December 11 Town Council meeting. They were referred to the HPC for evaluation. In brief, these were:
- John Milner Preservation Associates: Phase 1 $75,000, Phase 2 $62,000, Total = $137,000
- EHT Traceries: Phase 1 $24,500, Phase 2 $20,500, Total = $45,000.
- Robinson Associates: Phase 1 $17,000, Phase 2 $12,950, Total = $29,950.
Discussion concluded that the proposal by Robinson Associates meets the RFP needs, so their low bid will be recommended for acceptance at the January Town Council meeting.
Montgomery County History Conference: January 27, 2018: This year’s conference will open with a history of Metro and the Red Line’s development in the county. Other interesting topics will be presented, including Thurgood Marshall’s early civil rights victory in Montgomery County, the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, free African American communities’ involvement in the Underground Railroad, the role of local leaders in launching the American Revolution in 1774, and an overview of local development during the explosive 1950s. See https://montgomeryhistory.org/historyconference/ for more information and registration.
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – John Compton
Nothing to report
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – John Compton
Nothing to report
SHADY GROVE SECTOR MASTER PLAN ADVISORY COMMITTEE – John Compton
I will be reporting on activity of the committee since I am a member of this MNPPC committee that is charged with monitoring development in the Shady Grove Metro Master Plan area.
This period: Nothing to report.
The next meeting of the Advisory Committee will be Tuesday January 23 in the Council Room at McCathran Hall. All interested residents are welcome to attend.
PLAYGROUNDS – John Compton
Nothing to report
MAPLE LAKE – Patrice Klein
Nothing to report
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS & SAFETY – Patrice Klein
The EPC conducted its monthly meeting on December 28th to continue discussions on the following issues of town safety and emergency preparedness.
The Committee discussed the impressive volunteer effort to restore wooden street signs, and will ask for updates at the next Town Council meeting. Suggestions to encourage homeowners to improve their home address signage were included in the December Town Bulletin. The Committee intends to follow up with additional house sign advice for inclusion in the March or April Town Bulletin.
The Committee discussed fire hydrant reflective marking for easy location by emergency responders, suggesting this project may be appropriate for Town volunteers. Town Maintenance will be contacted for advice about a volunteer effort.
The draft Request for Proposals (RFP) for a Town Hall generator was forwarded earlier this month to John McClelland/Greg Silber (TC Town Hall and Contracts liaisons, respectively), and Bob Booher (HPC) for their review. The EPC recognizes that the recently discovered Town Hall termite infestation will likely temporarily divert attention and priority from the generator project, but would appreciate reviewer feedback by January 18, prior to the next EPC meeting.
EPC continues to gather information on Emergency Alert Notification systems to recommend to the Town Council. For example, both Montgomery County (Alert Montgomery) and the City of Gaithersburg use Everbridge for their alert systems.
A first draft of the Emergency Preparedness segment for the 2019 Master Plan was discussed. This document was compiled using the Emergency Preparedness Task Force Report, identifying issues, challenges and recommendations for each of the nine elements. Committee members’ comments on the draft are due January 18th for an updated draft discussion at the next EPC meeting.
EPC will send for inclusion in the January Town Bulletin a collection of useful web links to provide Town residents with advice for winter weather preparedness.
Additional Safety Issues discussed included (1) the need for reflectivity on a guy wire attached to the wooden telephone pole near the intersection of Brown Street and Hickory Road to increase visibility for walkers and bicyclists; and (2) the lack of street lighting at the Railroad Street crosswalk by the MARC station. This presents a safety hazard for access to/from the MARC trains in darkness.
The next EPC meeting is on January 25, 2018, 7:30 p.m.
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION – Audrey Maskery
Two Ace trees planted late December 2017 in Woodward Park due to the wet site conditions;
- 1 Black Gum
- 1 Sugar Maple
This will conclude tree purchase during the winter period
MAINTENANCE – Audrey Maskery
Final clearance of leaves from walkways, ditches, Washington Grove Lane and tennis courts.
Field grass cut, and ruts made by contractor’s truck filled.
New ‘No Parking’ signs place on West Wood side of Daylily Lane.
Removal of Christmas show material plus Christmas decorations from Town Hall and placed in moved to the maintenance shop for storage.
Cleared leaves from Cherry Avenue – ground too wet for contractor’s truck.
Removed street signs and installed reconditioned signs
Sanded roads and purchased more sand for use during 2018.
MEMORIALS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report
INTERGOVERNMENTAL – Joli A. McCathran
The Maryland Municipal League, Montgomery County Chapter hosted their Annual Legislative Dinner in December. Our guests were Senator Nancy King, Delegates Charles Barkley, Krill Resnick and Shane Robinson and Suellen Ferguson, Esq. The purpose of this event is to further inform our State Delegation of the Maryland Municipal League’s Montgomery County Chapter’s 2018 Legislative Priorities. It was well attended by the Montgomery County State Legislators County wide.
PLANNING COMMISSION – John McClelland
- 107 Pine Ave – No permit. However, an inspection of the property to verify conformity with the single dwelling unit and single family provisions of Town ordinance is being scheduled. The Mayor is to verify (and attain in writing) the multi-dwelling unit report made by the MoCo inspector and then take appropriate action.
- 304 Chestnut – No permit. The Mayor and PC Chair are to inspect the property to verify conformity with the single dwelling unit and single family provisions of Town ordinance.
- 416 Center St – Foundation repair. Town signed off on MoCo permit.
- 123 Washington Grove Ln – Preliminary plans for a proposed addition reviewed for ordinance adherence. The building plans will be modified to meet set back requirements etc and brought to the HPC meeting for review.
Permanent Easements vs. Sale of Town Land:
- 15 The Circle
- Women’s Clubhouse – Ownership of the building and land discussed as a title cannot be found. Hearsay of a Major Walker donating funds for the reconstruction of the building and a gentleman’s agreement of $1 year rent initiated a discussion on the potential sale of Town land located under resident structures. Ordinances 89-1, 89-2 and 89-3 were presented as possible templates – assuming a general consensus of the PC to consider the sale of property vs. the current easement process. No specific property was discussed nor an ordinance introduced. The discussions intent was to have a potential alternative talking point for the public meeting scheduled for the following night.
Commercial Corner Signs: The allowable square footage of signs located at the commercial corner was presented. Groomed by Haye (barber shop in the rear of the commercial building) is pursuing additional signage facing Railroad St. One proposed sign location was on the narrow strip of grass between RR St and the parking area near Hickory Rd, however, the owner was advised to check with the landlord and MoCo due to potential vehicular site line issues – especially near a busy intersection.
Bike/Pedestrian Trail: The PC chair will send the letter expressing the Towns interest in being involved with MoCo’s bike path study.
Cator Property: The assignment of street numbers to correspond with the 3 other future property locations is under way. MOCO will be contacted so the direction of the numbers (up or down from the current 17050 Railroad St address) is known.
Master Plan Update: A Draft Master Plan 2019 Strategy was presented by Charlie Challstrom.
House Records: 149 properties completed.
Dog Park: The ADA requirement of a paved parking area with a 5 ft wide hard surface to/from the area of a potential dog park location was presented. This requirement would be included for a “temporary” or “trial” dog park location.
MCCATHRAN HALL – John McClelland
Termite Damage: The Mayor has not received a return call from the historical building engineer, who assisted with the Halls prior addition, to inspect the extensive termite damage. The Mayor said she would follow up.
WOODS COMMITTEE – Greg Silber
A boundary survey and re-platting of the Town’s “East Woods” as a single parcel has been completed. Primarily, this means boundaries have been confirmed and the previous block and lot delineations have been removed to now indicate a single public, Town-owned area in the Land Records for Montgomery County and on County maps. The Town is working with Snider & Associates to prepare a follow-on Application for Local Map Amendment to rezone the entirety of the East Woods parcel as FR Zone (Forest and Recreational Zone). The application for this re-zoning action will be submitted to the Planning Commission in February.
Based on discussion during the November Town Council meeting, the Committee is making plans to assess the results of the first phase of woods preservation activities including herbicide treatments to control non-native, invasive vegetation in the East Woods under a contract with Invasive Plant Control, Inc. (IPC). Evaluations of relative success of these treatments is expected to occur largely in spring when plants begin to leaf out. Additional information will be forthcoming, including descriptions for residents being prepared for the Bulletin, as the Committee prepares for this evaluation and ongoing reforestation, deer control, and other Woods restoration activities.
At present, the Committee agreed to continue with invasive vegetation control in the spring, as planned, under the Town’s existing contract with IPC (a one-year contract, running through 30 June 2018, with allowances for multi-year renewals). The Committee expects to continue non-native plant control work after making the assessment described above, meeting with IPC to evaluate relative success of past treatments, and making specific plans for timing and locations of spring treatments. Related to this, the Committee continues to refine a project “criteria” tool that will be used to help shape decisions for future deer and invasive plant control, reforestation, and other activities. The Committee is also making preparations to review and revise, as needed, sections of the Town’s Master Plan relevant to its work.
The next Committee meeting will be Monday 5 February at 7:30.
CONTRACTS – Greg Silber
Fall leaf collection is expected to continue through 4 January. However, some leaf piles remain, so we will work with the contractor to extend this deadline to ensure leaves are collected as needed.
We have secured a back-up, “as needed” contract for snow removal with RJ Landscape