9 December 2019 | Approved: 13 January 2020
Mayor John Compton called the regular meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:34 p.m. In attendance were Councilors Darrell Anderson, Charlie Challstrom, Rob Gilmore, Patty Klein, and Audrey Maskery. Also in attendance were Treasurer Mary Challstrom, and residents Mary Blake, Georgette Cole, Dave Cosson, Member Wendy Harris, Robert Johnson, Betsy Klinger and Mimi Bolotin.
Approval of Agenda:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the agenda. Darrell Anderson seconded the motion. A discussion of Ordinance 2019-18; ZTA Modifying the Minimum Lot Line Standard for the RR-3 Zone was deferred to January. Vote: 5-0, Agenda approved as amended.
Washington Grove Cares is sponsoring a New Year’s Eve gathering and Betsy Klinger asked the Mayor and Council for an exception to allow the event to go past 11:00 p.m. The rules for Hall use state the event must be over by 11:00 p.m. with cleanup allowed until 11:30 p.m. The event is a night of music, games and dancing and everyone is invited. The rules do not address a change in times for a New Year’s party. Mayor Compton reminder the Council of previous Town-sponsored New Year’s celebrations. There was a brief discussion about how to notify residents. The exception was granted. It was suggested that nearby residents be notified directly.
Approval of Minutes:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the November 11, 2019 Town Council Meeting minutes. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Under Ordinance 2019-18 pdf, the words “Introduction and” were added after the vote notation.
Vote: 5-0, Minutes approved as amended.
Darrell Anderson moved to approve the November 11, 2019 Public Hearing minutes for Ordinance 2019-15 pdf. Charlie Challstrom seconded the motion. Vote: 4-0, Minutes approved. Rob Gilmore abstained because he was not in attendance.
Charlie Challstrom move to approve the November 11, 2019 Public Hearing minutes for Ordinance 2019-17 pdf. Darrell Anderson seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, Minutes approved.
Treasurers Report 2019-November pdf
Darrell Anderson moved acceptance of the November 2019 Treasurer’s Report. Rob Gilmore seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, accepted.
- Rob Gilmore has accepted the Mayor’s appointment as Council Liaison to the Stormwater Management Committee.
- The Town Office will be closed December 25th – January 1st.
- Trash and recycling pickup will change to Thursdays starting December 26, 2019.
Deer Management Hunt – Update:
Patty Klein reported that, to date, nine (9) does and one (1) buck have been harvested from the East and West Woods. There was a lull in deer traffic so the hunters set up a feeding station in the East Woods, and archers may be present a day in December. There was a brief discussion about the feeding station.
Resolution 2019-13 Providing For Proper Governance of WG Committees – Discussion and Possible Action:
Rob Gilmore laid out his views on the Council’s role in implementing this resolution. Charlie Challstrom moved that Patty Klein’s redline of the current Resolution language (dated 10/10/19) be substituted as the working version for use in further discussion. Patty Klein seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, substituted Resolution 2019-13 pdf approved.
The Council discussed the pros and cons of holding committee meetings in private homes, ending with the consensus favoring Committees be allowed to decide for themselves. Subsequent discussion proceeded section-by-section as follows:
- Use of by-laws vs. guidelines
- Retaining the principle of “adhering to the spirit of the Maryland Open Meetings Act” rather the rigidity of the OMA requirements.
- Options for qualifications for membership in a Committee.
- Options for qualifications for voting membership in a Committee.
- Omitting specific “membership eligibility criteria” language from the Resolution, and instead leaving qualifications up to each Committee to specify.
- The concept of Committee decision making by consensus vote vs. by a majority recorded vote. Generally favored was looking for consensus first, but providing that a majority recorded vote should be required if requested by any voting member.
- The pros and cons of Town Council members serving as Officers on Town Committees was discussed, and the possibility of a transition period for anyone currently serving in both roles was suggested. The matter might also be left to individual committees to decide. Concern was expressed that a dual leadership role can discourage development of new leadership and volunteerism. Mayor Compton stated Committees should be required to vote for leadership annually.
Mindful of the time, Mayor Compton recommended the discussion be resumed at the January 2020 regular meeting of the Town Council using revised language stemming from today’s ideas.
Request For Proposal for a West Woods Watershed (Stormwater Management) Study (Revised) Discussion and Action:
Robert Johnson noted the discussion in November was very helpful in drafting the revised RFP that now specifies a work product with three phases be recommended. Wendy Harris presented input from the Historic Preservation Commission. Revised dates were selected to allow a reasonable time for contractors to respond, and language stating the work should be completed within six (6) months of the award will be added as well. Robert Johnson will revise the RFP appropriately and send it to the Town Clerk for distribution to vendors.
Request For Proposal for a West Woods Boundary Survey – Discussion and Possible Action:
Charlie Challstrom reported upon removal of the RFP number and changing two (2) dates, this document is ready for distribution to the list of potential bidders. The Town Clerk will do so before year-end.
Resolution 2019-19; Evaluation Criteria for Driveways and Parking Areas Using Public Ways and Property – Introduction, Discussion and Possible Action:
Charlie Challstrom explained the Resolution provides the criteria referenced in recently enacted Ordinance 2019-15 that adds driveways and parking areas to the list of actions requiring a Public Ways & Property Permit. These criteria have been reviewed by the Planning Commission and they recommend implementation by the Town Council. Charlie Challstrom moved and Audrey Maskery seconded that the Resolution 2019-19 pdf be adopted as presented, with an effective date of December 9, 2020.
Vote 5-0, Resolution adopted.
Town Council Reports:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the Council Reports for posting on the Town website. Patty Klein seconded the motion. The Mayor and Council discussed the pending road repairs by MT Laney, speed humps (continuing trials and purchasing a new hump for Hickory Road), WSSC work on Grove Avenue and on Ridge Road, Maryland Municipal League priorities for the coming year (5G issue and Highway User Revenues), and a future letter to the County Executive from Mayor Compton on behalf of the Emergency Preparedness and Safety Committee concerning safety issues on Railroad Street and Washington Grove Lane. The Risk Management document referenced in in Patty Klein’s EPSC report was distributed for review by the Mayor and Council. Vote: 5-0, approved.
Mayor Compton reported the Montgomery County Department of Transportation held a kick-off meeting for their study “Washington Grove Bikeways Connector and Extension of Crabbs Branch Way to Amity Drive”. They envision studying two specific concepts for the Bikeway connection, and one for the road extension. They propose to hold a workshop sometime in January or February in McCathran Hall to exchange thoughts and ideas with the residents of affected communities. There is current funding to construct the bikeway connection, but none for road construction.
Special Town Meeting on connecting Washington Grove to the County and the City of Gaithersburg Bikeways Systems – Discussion and Scheduling: Mayor Compton proposed scheduling a Special Town Meeting to engage residents and get a “sense of the Town” about bikeway connections between the Town and the Montgomery County and City of Gaithersburg Bikeways systems. He expects this meeting will be held prior to the DOT Bikeways workshop (see above). It is likely that Notice of the Meeting will go out in the January Town Bulletin.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 10:22 PM
Kathryn L. Lehman
TC REPORTS – December 2019
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – Darrell Anderson
Meetings: The regular monthly meeting was held on November 19, 2019. The next regularly-scheduled meeting will be held December 17, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. in the McCathran Hall Council Room.
The HPC reviewed plans for renovations at 121 Chestnut (Cavey and Gilmore). Most of the renovation will occur inside the residence, with minor modifications outside. Therefore, the HPC determined that there is no need to review this application.
Discussion of Bikeway
I discussion of the proposed bikeway and completion of the road from Amity to Crabbs Branch resulted in a need for information on the next meeting with County Department of Transportation. The HPC would like to know if the next meeting will be only about the bikeway or will include a possible road connection. There also is a need to know when the Town should submit recommendations to MCDOT on the proposed road. I was tasked with contacting the County; I have made two contacts, but have yet to receive a definitive answer to either question.
National Register Nomination (NRN) Update
The HPC will update the NR map to reflect the limits set by the Governor’s Council. The next step will be to complete the 3 final reports based on the Council review. These will be submitted to the NR in January.
The HPC has finalized input on Section 6 and will be taking up Sections 7 through 9 in the next months. The HPC will plan a work session on January 14 for section 9.
The HPC is working to develop design guidelines based on the NR submission. A list of significant contributing factors is being developed. They also will be updating the HPC binder that includes pictures of residences. This update also should include a section on preserving historic no-residential items such as culverts, stone walls, etc.
- The HPC and Planning Commission are planning a joint meeting, possibly in January, to discuss two issues; dormers and demolition of existing houses.
- The HPC approved a nomination by Gail Littlefield of Susan Van Nostrand and the street-sign rehabilitator team for a Preservation Montgomery Award.
- Montgomery Cable filmed the process for sign rehabilitation on December 7.
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Darrell Anderson
Repaving Contract for FY2020
We received the signed contract from M.T. Laney for work to be completed under the FY2020 budget. Work (Ridge Road from the intersection of Brown Street to the intersection with Railroad Street) is weather dependent and may not be able to be completed before winter.
WSSC is finalizing their paving contract with the Town to be executed after replacing sewer pipes on Ridge Road. It is expected that WSSC will submit their contract for repaving to the Town in late December or early January. Work will not begin until early spring.
Street Sign Project
The Street Sign Project is complete but two worthy mentions will be included here. The HPC has nominated Susan Van Nostrand and her rehabilitation team for a Preservation Montgomery Award.
In addition, on December 7, a video was made showing the process of rehabilitating our street signs. The video is to be shown on the Montgomery Cable station. We will make sure to inform residents when this will be aired.
The new speed hump has been installed on Grove Avenue.
The Lighting Committee did not hold a meeting in November and will not meet again until January. Work on the Light Pole Inventory is continuing and results are being added to the database.
STREET SIGN RESTORATION PROJECT – Darrell Anderson
See information under Roads & Walkways
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – Darrell Anderson
Nothing to report.
PLANNING COMMISSION – Charlie Challstrom
Building Permit: Planning Commission (PC) action on the following permit application –
- 121 Chestnut Ave – permit approved for home renovation
Request for Proposals (RFP) for West Woods Plats and Boundary Marking: The PC recommends the Council issue an RFP seeking sealed bids for plat work and boundary marking work for the West Woods. The plat work will produce an updated plat of subdivision to enable approval of the West Woods as one parcel, and an identification plat required to initiate an application for local zoning map amendment. The boundary marking work would establish property corners for remaining portions of the West Woods boundary not yet marked. A critical element of this boundary is the Washington Grove Lane right of way. A draft RFP package was presented earlier for the November Council meeting, but Council action was deferred due to length of that meeting agenda.
Public Ways and Property (PW&P) Permit for WSSC Sewer Work: The PC reviewed the application for the PW&P permit for rehabilitation of WSSC sanitary sewers along Ridge Road and Grove Avenue during 2020. The Town’s Article III, Section 14 states such a permit must be obtained “from the Town through its Planning Commission” and “In the case of a utility emergency, a waiver may be obtained from the Mayor.” WSSC provided a “Roadside Tree Care Maintenance Authorization” which identifies specific trees and shrubs in a public right of way. The PC voted to approve this PW&P permit with the following conditions added:
- Designation by the Mayor of a Town representative who will be available for on-site consultation during the proposed work; and
- Advance notice (at least 48 hours) to the Town including specific work areas with specific time(s) for the proposed work.
Resolution 2019-19 – Evaluation Criteria for Driveways and Parking Areas: To follow last month’s Council enactment of Ordinance 2019-15, the PC recommends Council adoption of Resolution 2019-19. The Town’s Article III, Section 14 states: “It shall be unlawful for any person to perform an excavating or other work either in the public ways or on town property not in the public ways without first obtaining a permit from the Town…” Resolution 2019-19 will provide evaluation criteria intended for use when reviewing a PW&P permit application for a driveway or parking area that uses any portion of public right of way or town-owned property.
Master Plan Update: A 2019 Master Plan Work Session was held on November 20, with continued leadership and coordination by Georgette Cole. The PC reviewed and accepted updated versions for Section 2.1.3 Accommodating Growth within Town, and Section 3.4 Walkway/Bikeway Connection. The PC reviewed and accepted suggestions from Forestry & Beautification and from the Historic Preservation Commission for Section 6 Environmental Concerns and Sensitive Areas. Master Plan 2009 Section 7.1 Water Supply System was noted as being out of date, and this section will be updated after confirming the WSSC process for new water supply connections. WSSC plans will be used to update Section 7.2 Wastewater System to include critical sewer line rehabilitation work in the Town. The PC reviewed and accepted updated Section 7.3 Stormwater Management and Pollution Reduction submitted by the Stormwater Committee. A copy of the latest 2019 Master Plan Working Draft and the draft minutes from each work session are available on the Town web site.
MONTGOMERY MUNICIPAL CABLE (MMC) – Charlie Challstrom
Sign Restoration/Reconstruction Project: MMC, with video production and broadcast studios located in the historic Kensington Armory, returned to Washington Grove this month for another local project — to document the street sign restoration/reconstruction. Over the past two years, numerous volunteers, under the tutelage and organizing of Susan Van Nostrand as well as Town Maintenance, have removed, renovated, and replaced practically all of the nearly 200 Town street signs. The MMC video will document the volunteer group’s sign restoration and reconstruction processes for volunteers to follow in the future. This video will also be available on YouTube to share with our residents and with other communities.
CENSUS LIAISON – Charlie Challstrom
2020 Census Public Service Announcements: As the Town’s designated Census liaison, I shared an announcement about Census Jobs for last month’s Town Bulletin. Example — census taker temporary positions in Montgomery County to be paid $21 per hour — for more information, please visit: www.census.gov Starting this month, I will be sharing via the Yahoo Group some short Census public service announcements posted by Census on YouTube. To watch this first one, you can click on: 2020 Census PSA: Census Made Simple
The reference day used for the 2020 Census will be April 1, 2020. This is the first U.S. census to offer options to respond online or by phone, in addition to the option to respond on a paper form as with previous censuses.
MCCATHRAN HALL – Charlie Challstrom
Council Room Floor Refinishing – Hawkins Floor Company will be recoating the hardwood floor in the Council Room on December 26 and 27 with two coats of polyurethane. These dates were selected after consultations with Kathy Lehman, Steve Werts, and Pat Patula. Items will be moved down the hallway to the Lower Hall on or before December 23 and 24. Last April, we accepted the Hawkins proposal with a price of $250. for this final piece of their flooring work contract with the Town.
Lift Safety Testing and Inspections: The Town has signed a 3-year agreement with ALLSAFE Elevator Inspections, LLC for annual inspections of the witnessed safety testing performed by Premier Lifts, our maintenance contractor for the lift in McCathran Hall. Such inspections, previously done by the State of Maryland, must now be done by a third-party Qualified Elevator Inspector who is registered with the State. The Maryland Department of Labor website indicates the McCathran Hall lift annual safety testing and inspection is due by December 19, 2019.
CONTRACTS – Rob Gilmore
- Trash collection (Potomac Disposal): Collection day is back to Thursday. Potomac Disposal requested the change and the timing seemed right given the holiday schedule.
- Leaf collection (Greenearth): Greenearth has been diligent in this year’s leaf collection. They have been here every business day since November 8th with the exception of Thanksgiving and the day after.
DOG PARK – Rob Gilmore
Nothing to report.
WOODS – Rob Gilmore
The Woods Committee is not holding a meeting in December; the next meeting is scheduled for January 6, 2020. The Committee has been working on developing its proposed by-laws; monitoring the deer hunting undertaking; and planning for additional efforts concerning its forest restoration plan. IPC, the Town’s invasive plant contractor, worked in the East Woods on November 14 and 15, physically cutting Japanese honeysuckle and a few other non-native plants, and performing targeted applications of herbicide.
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – Rob Gilmore
Nothing to report.
WEBSITE – Marida Hines
Routine maintenance and content updates continue with no issues.
RECREATION – Marida Hines
The next meeting of the Recreation Committee is Wednesday, January 15, 2020 at 7:30 in the Council Room.
The 2019 Holiday Show will be held Saturday, December 14, 2019 at 7:30 PM in Town Hall.
The Washington Grove Recreation Committee is soliciting town feedback on the proposed “Sip and Knit” nights. Residents are asked to contact the organizers to indicated their preferred evening and level for classes. Contact Lisa Bielen ([email protected]) by December 20th.
COMMUNICATIONS WORK GROUP – Marida Hines
All interviews for the website usability testing initiative are complete and the report is being generated.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS & SAFETY COMMITTEE – Pat Klein
The EPSC met on November 21, 2019 to accommodate the Thanksgiving holiday on the 4th Thursday when the Committee is normally scheduled to meet.
The Committee discussed the County’s Debris Management Plan and recommended criteria for identifying an area within Town for potential use as a Debris Management Site (DMS), where tree branches/brush debris could be collected after a significant weather/wind event. At a DMS, the debris is processed/chipped/ground to reduce its volume before transport to a disposal site. The EPSC recommended a portion of Woodward Park, with paved/graveled access for trucks and equipment, could be considered as a DMS for town natural debris. Another viable option for town debris would be a nearby County-maintained DMS.
The EPSC recalled their previous identification of several County-related safety issues to include safer crossings at each RideOn Bus Stop, hold-back line improvements near Humpback Bridge, and Railroad Street pavement deterioration. The Committee will prepare a summary of these issues for inclusion is a letter from the Mayor to the County Executive.
The Council recently enacted Ordinance 2019-15 to apply the Public Ways and Property (PW&P) permit process for alterations to existing driveways or parking areas, or construction of new driveways or parking areas adjacent to rights of way. The EPSC highlighted the need for certain PW&P permit approval criteria, e.g. distance from intersection, sight distance, and obstructions to vision. The permit process should be reviewed to ensure timely waivers in the case of a utility emergency.
The November Town Bulletin included an EPSC solicitation for topics for a winter community event to be held in McCathran Hall. Several residents suggested a CPR/AED training. The EPSC will contact the Lake Committee to inquire about a joint training to include Maple Lake lifeguards. The Committee also expressed interest in a session on home computer security.
The December Town Bulletin will include home safety information associated with the holidays, perhaps using information available via the County Police website.
The EPSC Emergency Preparedness seminar on September 21, 2019 identified several key issues to include the fire alarm process for the Town Hall which relies on an external monitoring service and 3 town employee contacts with calls to the Fire Department; and emergency access for Maple Lake. The committee recommends exploring use of fire key boxes for McCathran Hall to provide access to first responders and incorporating an emergency lock at Maple Lake.
The EPSC prepared the final version of “Risk Management and Safety Procedures” for submission to the Mayor and Council.
The Committee unanimously decided to amend their current “Bylaws” to remove a statement about a member appealing to the Mayor/Town Council if a reasonable resolution to a committee matter is not made to the member’s satisfaction.
MAPLE LAKE – Pat Klein
The Lake Committee is on winter break. No meeting conducted in November 2019.
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION – Audrey Maskery
Two (2) Stadler trees planted November 23, one Bur Oak in Howard Park near the Woman’s Club and one more Bur Oak in Woodward Park near 119 Maple Ave. Three (3) Stadler trees planted December 4th, one (1) Willow Oak in Woodward Park near 109 Maple Avenue, one (1) Weeping Cherry near Wishing Well in the Circle, one (1) October Glory Maple in Woodward Park across from 119 Maple Avenue. This is the final planting for winter 2019 giving us a total of nine (9) new trees. Plans for the spring 2020 will take place 11th March, this will be the first F&B meeting of 2020. Town residents are always welcome and can participate in planning the future tree canopy for our Town.
MAINTENANCE – Audrey Maskery
Removed tree stumps that had been dumped on Grove Avenue between Brown Street and Railroad Street; cut up three (3) trees on Cherry Avenue Path in the East Woods at the request of the Woods Group and took to the dump. Dismantled old deer netting from East Wood exclosure, removed old fence posts and took to scrap yard.
Picked up leaves in Morgan Park, Woodward Park, Wade Park and all Avenues throughout Town, piling leaves at side of road ready for leaf contractor to remove.
Took down the tennis court nets for winter; blew leaves out of the tennis courts.
Removed old speed bump on Grove Road and installed new replacement speed bump; purchased new hammer drill, bits and asphalt anchors for the speed bump installation.
Hooked up the new a/c split unit for the Town Hall archive room.
MEMORIALS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report.
PLAYGROUNDS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report.