11 February 2019 | Approved: 11 March 2019
Mayor John Compton called the regular meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Councilors Charlie Challstrom, Rob Gilmore (via conference call), Marida Hines, and Audrey Maskery. Also in attendance was Treasurer Mary Challstrom and Town residents Georgette Cole, Christine Dibble, and Joan Mahaffey. Jane Seegal arrived at 8:04 p.m.
Approval of Agenda:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the agenda. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 4-0, approved.
Christine Dibble (313 Brown St.) requested installation of a speed hump or bump on Brown Street. She explained the speeding she has seen on that road. Mayor Compton noted that additional hump/bump locations would be discussed after results of the trial installation of a hump on Grove Road at Oak Street was evaluated.
Audrey Maskery (205 Washington Grove Lane) asked for larger warning signs on Hickory Road in order to stop the eighteen wheelers from entering Washington Grove. She spoke of an incident where she assisted a driver who mistakenly turned on to Hickory Road and found himself in a pickle off the pavement. The effectiveness of signage, and getting online maps to flag Town streets with warnings, was discussed.
Approval of Minutes:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the January 14, 2019 Town Council Meeting minutes. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion.
Vote: 3-0 (Challstrom, Hines, Maskery), approved. Rob Gilmore abstained (being absent in January).
Acceptance of Treasurer’s Report:
Treasurers Report 2019-January pdf
Marida Hines moved acceptance of the Treasurer’s Report for January 2019. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion.
Vote: 4-0, accepted.
Marida Hines moved to approve transfer of $30,000 from savings to checking to pay bills. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Treasurer Mary Challstrom explained $16,000 of the amount requested covers the cost of the McCathran Hall floor beam work.
Vote: 4-0, transfer approved.
Mary Challstrom reminded everyone about the March 26th Budget Work Session and the February 28th deadline for budget inclusion requests.
Approval of Mayor’s Appointments to the Board of Election Supervisors – Joe Clark, Margo Cavenagh, Nick Suzich:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the Mayor’s appointments of Joe Clark, Margo Cavenagh and Nick Suzich to the Board of Elections Supervisors. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion.
Vote: 4-0, for approval.
Communications Committee – Report and Discussion:
Mayor Compton asked Marida Hines to give a summary of the Committee report. She reported the Committee surveyed Town residents, and 98 people responded. There was support for the following improvements:
- Website usability, effective Search function, others.
- Better group listserv software
- Town Bulletin: add a calendar list of events, also list deadlines for submissions, etc.
- Create a Town system to notify those residents who opt-in of new information on subjects of interest.
Additional Action: The Communication Committee will do usability testing of the website, look into a replacement for the Yahoo ListServe, and work on providing an opt-in notification system. The Mayor and Town Clerk will add recommended features to the Town Bulletin.
Dog Park Fence Request For Proposal – Bid Opening and Award:
Mayor Compton opened the two (2) responses to the RFP for the fencing around the Dog Park in the West Woods.
- Tri County Fence and Decks – $6,514.00
- Rustic Fence – $5,750.00
Tri County Fence and Decks provided the required paperwork and references. Rustic Fence only provided their job estimate sheet and nothing else. Charlie Challstrom moved to award the contract to the most responsive bidder, Tri County Fence and Decks, pending contacting their references by Rob Gilmore. Marida Hines seconded the motion.
Vote: 4-0, approved contract award.
Leaf Collection and Disposal Request For Proposal:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the RFP for leaf collection and disposal. Marida Hines seconded the motion. Georgette Cole commented on how much better clean-up was when the crew consisted of three (3) workers.
Vote: 4-0, approved.
Bids in response to the RFP will be opened at the regular meeting of the Town Council on March 11, 2019.
Ordinance 2018-11; Authorizing the Sale of Land Occupied by a Main Building at 315 Grove Avenue Initially Constructed in Part on Land Owned by the Town of Washington Grove:
Ord 2018-11 Authorizing Sale of Land 315 Grove Ave as introduced 10dec18.pdfpdf Charlie Challstrom presented changes to the ordinance proposed by the HPC and PC intended to clarify when a building permit would be required, and the nature of in-kind repair and replacement when a permit would not be needed. Possible inconsistency in the covenants was noted in language required by Ordinance 2018-02 and originally provided by the Town Attorney. Introduction of a new ordinance, as opposed to amending 2018-11 was proposed. Further discussion addressed whether the reversionary interest created problems for obtaining title insurance burdens for the property owner.
Charlie Challstrom moved to withdraw ordinance 2018-11 Audrey Maskery seconded the motion.
Vote: 4-0, withdrawal approved.
Charlie Challstrom moved to introduce Ordinance 2019-03 Ord 2019-03 315 Grove Ave Sale of Town Land 15feb19 introduced 11feb19.pdfpdf, containing the revised language from the PC. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 4-0, approved.
The Public Hearing for Ordinance 2019-03 was scheduled for 7;00 pm on March 11, 2019 prior to the Town Council meeting.
Additional Action: Rob Gilmore will look into title insurance on historic properties having covenants or easements. Mayor Compton will discuss possible conflicting covenant language with the Town Attorney
Introduction of Ordinance 2019-01; Revisions to Definitions in Section 4.2 in Article VII; Ordinary Maintenance and Repairs:
Charlie Challstrom moved to introduce Ordinance 2019-01. Marida Hines seconded the motion.
Vote: 4-0 for introduction. The public hearing was scheduled for 7:00 pm on March 11, 2019 prior to the Town Council meeting.
Introduction of Ordinance 2019-02; Amending Building Permit Regulations:
Charlie Challstrom move to introduce Ordinance 2019-02. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion.
Vote: 4-0. The public hearing was also scheduled for 7:00 pm on March 11, 2019 prior to the Town Council meeting.
Charlie Challstrom moved approval of Town Council Reports for posting on the website. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. The following items were highlighted:
- Master Plan update, and the next Worksession to be on Feb 13.
- Speed hump will be installed on Grove Road at Oak Street on a trial basis.
- The adhoc Lighting Committee met in Jan, with Robert Johnson selected as Chairman, and the next meeting planned for Feb 20.
- Town Web site enhancements were implemented by Bill Saar, including improved navigation.
Mayor Compton announced the following:
- Town Maintenance removed the fence at 215 Washington Grove Lane which was located on Town land.
- Research on the problem of storm water management in the West Woods is beginning. A request for proposal will likely be issued for an engineering study to propose solutions. Audrey Maskery urged the Council to consult with Town Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts as well.
- Cherry Avenue stabilization is – finally – likely to happen this fiscal year. Town Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts will provide details of the project.
- The Contractor engaged in construction at 116 Ridge Road was responsible for severe damage to Cherry Avenue behind the site. The Owner and Contractor have agreed to repair the damage when weather permits. Mayor Compton will write a letter to the Owners to insure compliance with this agreement.
- The damage to Cherry Avenue situation suggests that Building Permit documents should include a provision that the permit holder/homeowner will be responsible for repairs should their Contractor damage Town land/property.
- Mayor Compton explained an imbalance between what the Town charges an applicant for a Board of Zoning Appeals hearing and what it actually costs to hold the hearing. The current fee to the applicant is $150.00. The cost to hire a court reporter is a minimum of $200.00. How should we fix this?
- A use of the space in 105 Washington Grove Lane for an artist’s studio was brought to the Mayor’s attention by the property owner. There was a discussion about whether or not the allowable uses at the Commercial Corner are too restrictive. An opinion letter from the Mayor will be written.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 10:35 p.m.
Kathryn L. Lehman
TC REPORTS – February 2019
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – Darrell Anderson
Meetings: The regular monthly meeting was held on January 15, 2019. The next regularly-scheduled meeting will be held February 19, 2019.
Reviews and Discussions: Bud O’Connor (409 5th Avenue) presented a slide presentation of his past reconstruction for the purpose of informing his request for purchase of Town property as per Ordinances 2018-04 and 2018-05. He also thought showing the HPC what he went through during his reconstruction would assist the HPC with their written recommendations for sale of Town land.
Collin Turner (405 Brown Street) met with the HPC to inform them that he intends to request a building permit to demolish a 2-car garage and build a 3-car garage with upper-level storage. He wanted to know how to proceed. The HPC Chair spelled out the process for submitting the permit and where in the process the HPC would review the plans. It also was noted that Mr. Turner might consider building a Dutch Colonial “barn” type structure consistent with the style of his house.
Progress on contract for review of the Town’s Historic District Updating: Assignments were made for the final Phase I Report. Wendy Harris will serve as contact person for consultants, will coordinate questions surrounding view-sheds and boundaries, and coordinate procedural issues and all non-architectural aspects of the Nomination. Bob Booher will serve as coordinator for all issues related to architecture, such as narrative descriptions of buildings and the extension of the historic significance period.
The HPC recommends a possible expansion of the Phase I Reports to include History of Commercial Corner and Historical Features. Gail Littlefield would like to write history of the Commercial Corner including the Town’s challenges during the period of 7-11 tenancy there. Gail would also like to write history of historic features such as street/avenue signs, street lights, fire hydrants, drainage structures and the perimeter fence structure. These histories can be included as an Addendum to the Nomination if it is too late in the process to include in Phase I.
Master Plan: The HPC has provided input into sections on “Transportation” and the “Commercial Corner.” A significant section on the Commercial Corner was submitted including potential redevelopment and rezoning options.
Zoning Text Amendments: The HPC submitted additional comments on Zoning Text Amendments 2018-04 and 2018-05. The Planning Commission will re-examine these two ordinances and confer with the HPC.
STREET SIGN RESTORATION PROJECT – Darrell Anderson
Susan Van Nostrand held another gathering to produce more of the signs for this project. Another 5 signs were completed and were turned in to the office for Steve to pick up and install.
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Darrell Anderson
Repaving: After approval by the Council in January, AB Veirs and MT Laney Company were contacted to inform them that they were chosen to complete the repaving work for this fiscal year. Contracts were forwarded and are in the process of being returned to the Town. Work will begin in the spring when weather conditions are appropriate.
Speed Hump Trial: One Superior Speed Hump was ordered for placement on Grove Avenue.
Street Lights: The Washington Grove ad hoc Lighting Committee met in January. Robert Johnson accepted the position of Chair. At the meeting, a review of past Town efforts on conversion from incandescent to induction bulbs was presented with a discussion of what will be researched as the Town converts from induction to some other type of bulb. Tasks were divided among members and a second meeting was scheduled for February 20, 7:30 pm, to review task progress. A call was sent via the Yahoo group for additional members of the committee.
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – Darrell Anderson
No report this month.
PLANNING COMMISSION – Charlie Challstrom
- 15 Circle – Permit approved for a new small shed for storing bicycles.
Master Plan Update: The next Planning Commission Master Plan Worksession will be held February 13 at 7:30 p.m. The 2019 Master Plan Working Draft has been updated to reflect changes in the Introduction, Section 1 (Land Use and Zoning), and Section 2 (Municipal Growth and Boundary Enhancements) approved by the PC at the January 16 work session. Additional material received from the HPC for Section 1.2 (Commercial Zone) will be considered at the February 15 work session, along with expected PC materials for Section 1.1 (Residential Zones) and Section 1.3 (Other Town-Owned Land). The most recent update of the 2019 Master Plan Working Draft will be available on the Town website after each work session.
Zoning Text Amendment: The Planning Commission has filed and accepted an application for Zoning Text Amendment (see proposed Ordinance 2019-01) to amend Article VII, Zoning. Adding a definition of “Ordinary Maintenance and Repairs” will support the updated Town regulations for ordinary maintenance and repairs to buildings and fences. A copy of the application has been forwarded to the Historic Preservation Commission. The next steps are “introduction” of proposed Ordinance 2019-01 by Town Council, setting a date for the public hearing, and advertising the hearing in a newspaper and the Town Bulletin.
Building Permit Regulations: The Planning Commission recommends the Town Council introduce proposed Ordinance 2019-02 to amend Article IV, Building Permit Regulations, and set a date for the public hearing. This Ordinance would specify that ordinary maintenance and repairs to buildings and fences may be made without a building permit.
Ordinance 2018-11 Update: The Planning Commission has reviewed an updated version of Ordinance 2018-11 dated February 4, 2019, to authorize sale of Town land to Jane Seegal. The PC recommends this version that specifies ordinary maintenance and repairs, as defined in the Washington Grove Zoning Ordinance, may be made without a building permit. This updated version reinforces the process for sale of Town land as stipulated in Article XVII.
MCCATHRAN HALL – Charlie Challstrom
McCathran Hall Floor Beam Reinforcement Project: The contractor, M. Taylor Enterprise LLC, has completed the project to reinforce floor beams in McCathran Hall. The contractor’s references consisted of Washington Grove residents, and all were positive and helpful. No County building permit was required for this project. To enable basement access for installing the new steel beams, Guardian completed advance work to move a portion of the fire suppression pressurized pipeline.
Cleaning: Exploration of options for cleaning McCathran Hall continues in coordination with SEEC, an organization providing developmental assignments.
MONTGOMERY MUNICIPAL CABLE (MMC) – Charlie Challstrom
During the MMC annual meeting on January 23, a short video presentation was shown to highlight MMC operations and how our Town residents can benefit from MMC services. As with other MMC productions, this excellent video is available on YouTube:
We had a lively brainstorming session, including Kensington Mayor Tracey Furman and Somerset Mayor Jeff Slavin, identifying a wide range of programming ideas to appeal to our residents and to improve communications. For instance, involvement of high school students was suggested, perhaps using “It’s Academic” as a model and recruiting retired teachers to guide such a program. MMC has a well-equipped TV production studio in the Kensington Armory. We noted some high schools are teaching video production skills. MMC staff has offered training for our Town residents using MMC equipment, possibly to video our own events for streaming and archive. This MMC information has been shared with the Washington Grove Communications Committee to explore.
CENSUS – Charlie Challstrom
Boundary and Annexation Report: An annual report to the U.S. Census Bureau was submitted to confirm the Town has no boundary changes for 2018. This review and report process helps ensure the Census Bureau has a current and accurate geographic framework for data collection, tabulation, and dissemination, especially important as we approach the 2020 Census.
Census Temporary Jobs: The Census Bureau is hiring temporary employees for the 2020 Census. These jobs offer weekly pay, competitive pay rates, flexible hours, and paid training. Census jobs in Montgomery County pay up to $21 per hour, according to the Census website. More information is available by clicking “2020 Census Jobs” on www.2020Census.gov
CONTRACTS – Rob Gilmore
I reviewed and provided comments on the leaf collection renewal RFP, the paving contracts, and the town hall beam replacement contract.
DOG PARK – Rob Gilmore
The dog park RFP was sent out to 12 potential bidders on January 4. The committee is working on a proposed potential name for the park, as well as finalizing the registration form for attending the dog park.
WOODS – Rob Gilmore
The results of the Woods Committee’s survey of views on forest restoration and deer management approaches were published on the Town website. The Woods Committee continued its work on the Deer Management plan, including a proposed ordinance amending the Town’s Charter to permit deer management hunting pursuant to County and State regulations, and the processes and procedures for permitting cooperator groups to hunt on Town property.
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – Rob Gilmore
Nothing to report.
WEBSITE – Marida Hines
Webmaster Bill Saar has reconfigured the site with new navigation. He has also changed to Flywheel as our hosting company and is upgrading to a higher-bandwidth plan as were consistently exceeding our 5000/m limit on the existing plan. Marida Hines and John Compton are reviewing the changes, which have already gone live.
RECREATION – Marida Hines
The next meeting of the Recreation Committee is Wednesday, April 17, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Room. The meeting is open to the public.
Ongoing Town activities sponsored by the Rec Committee include the Youth Dance Class on Fridays and Square Dancing with Taylor Made Squares, two Mondays per month.
The Recreation Committee is still seeking a volunteer to chair the Labor Day activities.
COMMUNICATIONS WORK GROUP – Marida Hines
The Communications Working Group (CWG) met on February 6 to analyze results of the communications survey and discuss Phase 1 recommendations for improving official communications in Town. The group will submit a report with recommended next steps at the February 11 Council meeting.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS COMMITTEE – Pat Klein
The EPC held its monthly meeting on January 24th and discussed the following topics.
The installation of the Town Hall generator is nearly complete. The generator will exercise for a few minutes on Tuesday afternoons. The required visual and noise barrier remains to be installed, and the Pepco connection to the 200-amp upgrade is pending. The EPC submitted a notice about the new generator in a “Winter Weather Preparedness” message for the February Town Bulletin.
The EPC discussed recent work by County DOT to respond to the December traffic hazard associated with stormwater overflow onto Railroad Street. The DOT did clear the drainage pipes under Railroad Street and the CSX railroad tracks, and follow-up work by is expected.
The County updated the Hazard Mitigation Plan, including a project to lower the stormwater drainage pipe under Railroad Street and submitted the MEMA approved version to the County Council for their adoption. The Council formally adopted the plan on January 29th pending FEMA final review and approval. The updated County Plan subsequently will be distributed to all jurisdictions and our Town will be able to adopt it to remain eligible for FEMA disaster relief and grants.
The County DOT Engineer Mark Terry reported on Railroad Street safety. The EPC noted continued soil erosion at the edge of the pavement at the highest portion of Railroad Street where turning vehicles exit the bridge. Engineering solutions will likely be needed to stabilize and shore up the road, but will have impacts on nearby trees on Town property. In addition, there are three pairs of RideOn bus stops without crosswalks, making pedestrian access dangerous. The EPC recommends discussions with County DOT regarding pedestrian and traffic safety strategies regarding these points.
The EPC discussed replacement of the gate on Brown Street near Hickory Road, noting the gate has not been opened since its installation for emergency vehicle access. The Committee recommends replacement of the red gate with bollards to serve the primary purpose of safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. Town maintenance should be consulted to determine if removable bollards are practical at this location.
The EPC identified road intersection visibility concerns where certain vegetation on town land obstructs vision and impairs traffic safety. They will consult with the Forest and Beautification Committee on trimming a bush on the southeast corner of Brown Street and Grove Road. Other intersections will be revisited in the Spring.
The EPC Chair participated in the Communication Working Group’s (CWG) November meeting. EPC encouraged the CWG to explore improved methods for emergency communications and alerts. Also, the Montgomery Municipal Cable (MMC) is promoting opportunities to use their facilities to build video capabilities within our community and enhance connection with our residents. The Town is a participating member of MMC. Here is a YouTube link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koDUnG1QslI&t=159s with a promotional video.
The EPC is compiling examples of house number signs with improved visibility for safety to display at the Annual Town Meeting in May. An archived document from the Montgomery County Police entitled “Street Numbers are Lifesavers” will be included in an upcoming Town Bulletin.
The EPC recommends $1,000 be included in the Town’s FY 2020 Annual Budget for Committee activities. The next EPC meeting will be on February 28, 2019.
MAPLE LAKE – Pat Klein
Nothing to report.
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report. All welcome to join the first F&B meeting 13th March 2019.
MAINTENANCE – Audrey Maskery
Fence and posts removed from Town property at 215 Washington Grove Lane, post holes filled with dirt.
Installed refurbished street signs and more removal of additional street signs that need refurbishing.
Plow and sander installed on the truck in preparation for recent snow storm. Roads plowed and icy spots sanded, sidewalks cleared at Town Hall and sidewalk along Washington Grove Lane.
Met with Guardian Fire to have them remove a pipe in the sprinkler room to clear path for contractor working under Town Hall.
Picked up Christmas trees placed ready for removal by home owners, and taken to the dump with other brush.
Worked on Town Hall handicap lift in preparation for yearly inspection by State inspector. (Passed inspection).
Repaired broken steering column on Town truck.
MEMORIALS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report.
PLAYGROUNDS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report.
INTERGOVERNMENTAL – Joli McCathran
Nothing to report.