10 February 2020 | Approved: 9 March 2020
Mayor John Compton called the regular meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:32 p.m. In attendance were Councilors Darrell Anderson (by phone), Charlie Challstrom, Rob Gilmore, Marida Hines, Patty Klein, and Audrey Maskery. Also in attendance were Treasurer Mary Challstrom, HPC Chair Bob Booher, and residents Georgette Cole, Jane Davis, Robert Johnson, Dennis Kane, Joan Mahaffey, Bruce Rothrock, Jane Seegal, Donna Shriner, and David Stopak. Seth Churchill from Gutschick, Little & Webber was also present. Dave Cosson arrived at 7:46p.m.
Approval of Agenda:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the agenda. Rob Gilmore seconded the motion. Charlie Challstrom requested that Ordinance 2019-18 remain on the agenda, and it was moved to an earlier spot. Vote: 6-0, agenda approved as amended.
Jane Seegal (315 Grove Avenue) noted in August 2019 an ordinance was passed to allow the purchase of the Town land under her porch on 2nd Avenue. She is still waiting for the Deed and asked for a status report. Mayor Compton stated it was in the Town attorney’s hands. He apologized for not pursuing this more vigorously and made the commitment to follow up with the attorney ASAP.
Approval of Minutes:
Patty Klein moved to approve the January 13, 2020 Town Council Meeting Minutes. Charlie Challstrom seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, approved. Darrell Anderson, absent from the January meeting, abstained.
Treasurers Report 2020-January pdf
Rob Gilmore moved acceptance of the January 2020 Treasurer’s Report. Patty Klein seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0, accepted.
Marida Hines moved to transfer $10K from savings to checking in order to pay bills. Rob Gilmore seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0, approved.
Deer Management Hunt – Update:
Patty Klein gave a summary of the hunting activity. The hunters harvested 12 does and 2 bucks from both woods. A debriefing for the Woods Committee will be scheduled soon. Patty would like the Mayor to write a letter of appreciation to the group.
Bikeways Connections to Washington Grove – Discussion of the Special Town Meeting January 25th and the MCDOT Study Workshop February 13:
Mayor Compton explained this item was on the agenda again because Montgomery County has funded a study of design and construction for this project. The study will produce several options for review including some that may access the Town. He also announced a Department of Transportation workshop in McCathran Hall on February 13th where potential shared use path connections to Town will be explained and discussed. He emphasized this meeting is only a workshop and no decisions will be made. A discussion about the following ensued:
- Locations where the path might access the Town.
- Whether a draft Resolution with specific shared use path connection options should be recommended by the Town Council for study by the MCDOT at this time.
- Town Council’s role in promoting and defining a decision on a shared use path connection.
- Previous support for a connection for many years.
- Updates to the Master Plan recommendations.
- Importance of cooperating with the County.
- To what extent, if any, the Town might lose “sovereign rights” to control access to town roads?
- Can a Town consensus be determined?
- Should the Town Council distribute a survey of town residents asking: Do you favor a connection to the County bikeways system? Do you support a connection on town streets (comes through Town)? Do you support/prefer, if feasible, a path on the perimeter of Town?
- Obtaining a “sense of the Town” at another Special Town Meeting over a direct connection to a shared-use pathway onto Town roads.
- Deferred recommending any specific connection options to the MCDOT Study until the March Town Council meeting to allow time for assessing the extent of resident support.
- And to do this, the Mayor and Council reached consensus to call a second Special Town Meeting (tentatively March 14, 2020), for the purpose of examining the extent of Town Meeting support for, or opposition to, a connection of any kind to Town roads by a County shared use path and the County Bikeways system.
- While also distributing a survey on the general question – and on specific connection options – in the March Town Bulletin.
- Encouraged resident participation in the February 13th workshop.
West Woods Watershed Study – RFP Opening:
Mayor Compton opened the bids. Replies are as follows:
- Charles P. Johnson & Associates $149,785.00
- Gutschick, Little & Webber (GLW) $150,000.00
- MHG $122,400.00
There was a brief reference to the clarity of the goals in the RFP. GLW representative Seth Churchill suggested the work be done while the trees are still without leaves. Costs are higher with leaves on the trees. He also indicated the GLW bid was based basically on three (3) aspects of the work: 1/3 environmental, 1/3 surveying, and 1/3 other, though their bid is not broken down that way. The Town Council agreed the high costs bid for this work necessitate further discussion, and Stormwater Management Committee Chairman Robert Johnson agreed to review the bids at their next meeting and develop recommendations for the Council. They will also research whether less comprehensive and therefore less expensive solutions might be possible, including help from Montgomery County stormwater experts.
Action: Potential award of a contract was deferred pending evaluation and recommendations from the Stormwater Management Committee.
West Woods Plats and Boundary Marking – RFP Opening:
Mayor Compton opened the bids. Replies are as follows:
- Meridian Surveys $ 8,100.00
- MAcris, Hendricks & Glascock $10,200.00
- Snider & Associates $ 7,800.00
Charlie Challstrom explained this survey was to help with the delineation of the Washington Grove Lane boundary. Although Snider & Associates has a history with Town surveys, there was a brief discussion about the merits of engaging a different company. Rob Gilmore moved to accept the bid from Snider & Associates. Marida Hines seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0, Snider bid accepted.
Action: The contract was awarded to Snider & Associates.
Ordinance 2019-18; Amending the Washington Grove Zoning Ordinance to Modify the Minimum Lot Size Standards for the RR-3 Zone – Discussion:
Charlie Challstrom distributed proposed amended language in the ordinance to the Mayor and Council. He reviewed the discussion from January for the Council, including the question of the placing conditions recommended by the HPC in the ordinance versus relying on the Planning Commission option to do so in the subdivision agreement. Mayor Compton referenced the property owner’s concerns that historic preservation conditions would reduce his property value, and a published study on this question distributed by the property owner. HPC chair Bob Booher was present and views were exchanged on the likelihood of reducing property value. There was additional discussion about
- The specific conditions proposed by the HPC.
- Enforcement of such conditions.
- Where it was reasonable to require or specify these conditions.
- Master Plan recommendations.
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve Ordinance 2019-18 pdf as amended (blue paper. Darrell Anderson seconded the motion. Rob Gilmore moved to amend Ordinance 2019-18 by deleting the conditions included as Part 2(C). The motion failed due to lack of a second.
Vote by roll call, 4 – 3. Darrell Anderson, Charlie Challstrom, Patty Klein voting in favor; Rob Gilmore, Marida Hines, Audrey Maskery voting against, and Mayor Compton voting in favor to break the tie. Ordinance approved as amended.
Road Paving on Ridge Road – Discussion of WSSC Proposal for Ridge Road Re-paving in Connection with Sewer Replacement. Approval of Contract and of the Memorandum of Understanding:
Darrell Anderson explained an agreement with WSSC to pave Ridge Road from 112 Ridge Road to the Brown Street intersection, in which WSSC will repave the segment and the Town will pay for WSSC to repair a section of underlying roadbed . Rob Gilmore moved to approve the additional monies ($1,930.13) for the WSSC work. Marida Hines seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0, approved.
Darrell Anderson also reviewed the status of contracted roadwork not yet completed by M.T. Laney. The Town Council determined to award the roadwork based on their bid received about 18 months ago. Laney has presented a change order for an additional $2,550.00. The Mayor and Council did not agree to this increase. Darrell will review the contract with M. T. Laney, and the matter will be on the March agenda.
Risk Management Policy Statement – Emergency Preparedness & Safety Committee:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the Risk Management Policy Statement pdf developed and recommended by the Emergency Preparedness and Safety Committee. Patty Klein seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0, approved.
Town Council Reports:
Patty Klein moved to approve the Council Reports for posting on the Town website. Rob Gilmore seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0, approved as amended.
Mayor Compton discussed replacing Treasurer Mary Challstrom upon her expected retirement in June 2021. Much thought should be given to the Treasurer’s succession planning. Mary has provided a job description and required skills. There doesn’t appear to be any required certifications for the position. It is prudent that the new Treasurer be hired in time to shadow Mary beginning this summer. For now, the position will be advertised in the Town Bulletin.
Mayor Compton reported he has scheduled a meeting with Community Affairs Officer Jones from the 6th District to re-start our police liaison partnership. The meeting will take place on February 11, 2020 at 1:00 PM.
Memorials Policy. Audrey Maskery presented an extensively updated Memorials Policy for consideration. Rob Gilmore moved to approve the new Memorials Policy as a Resolution (2020-03) pdf . Darrell Anderson seconded the motion. Brief discussion ensued. Vote: 6-0, policy approved.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 10:55 PM
Kathryn L. Lehman
TC REPORTS – February 2020
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – Darrell Anderson
Meetings: The regular monthly meeting was held on January 21, 2020. I was unable to attend. The next regularly-scheduled meeting will be held February 18, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. in the McCathran Hall Council Room.
Discussion of Bikeway
The HPC submitted a document outlining the archaeological and historic impact information to be included in the discussion of the proposed bikeway and completion of the road from Amity to Crabbs Branch in the February 13 meeting with the County Department of Transportation.
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.
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Darrell Anderson
Repaving Contract for FY2020
We received a modification for repaving work from MT Laney regarding Area E (Ridge Road from the intersection of Brown Street to the intersection with Railroad Street). The original bid in, which we accepted in 2018 was $12,330. I asked contractor to update their costs if needed before beginning the 2020 work. MT Laney asked to adjust the cost by an additional $2,550 based on the increased cost of asphalt. This was not part of the budget approved for 2020 repaving. This will be discussed and considered at the February Council meeting.
WSSC is finalizing their paving contract with the Town to be executed after replacing sewer pipes on Ridge Road. They have submitted a Memorandum of Understanding to the Town that will require the Town to pay $1,940.13 for the partial cost of repaving Ridge Road from 112 Ridge Road to the intersection of Ridge Road and Brown Street. This was not part of the budget approved for 2020 repaving. This will be discussed and considered at the February Council meeting.
Street Sign Project
The Street Sign Project was highlighted in a video recently produced and shown on the Montgomery Cable station. The HPC has nominated Susan Van Nostrand and her rehabilitation team for a Preservation Montgomery Award.
Two new speed humps, such as the one on Grove Avenue, have been ordered. One will be placed on Chestnut Road between Center Street and Oak Street. The Council will determine the placement of second, as well as what to do with the one that was removed from Grove Avenue.
The Lighting Committee held a meeting on January 22. I was unable to attend. Work on the Light Pole Inventory is continuing and results are being added to the database. The next meeting will be held on February 26 at 7:30 pm in the Council room.
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – Darrell Anderson
Nothing to report.
PLANNING COMMISSION – Charlie Challstrom
412 Fourth Ave & 123 Washington Grove Lane – home renovations
The Town’s Building Inspector, Doug Lohmeyer, has determined that building heights for two ongoing home renovation projects comply with the maximum height limitation of 30 feet specified in Article VII. For each home, a laser measuring tool was used at a point with the greatest building height and the lowest ground elevation. For 412 Fourth Ave, Doug’s report states “The measurement from the ground to the new roof peak was approximately 26 feet – 2 inches.” For 123 Washington Grove Lane, Doug’s report states: “The measurement from the ground to the new roof peak was approximately 25 feet – 8 inches.”
315 Grove Ave – Shed Replacement
The Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) held a hearing on January 11, 2020 regarding the existing shared shed at 315 Grove Ave. The BZA Opinion and Order includes the statement: “The Board believes that [Article VII] Section 5.31, which provides that a non-complying building may be reconstructed, enlarged, remodeled, repaired, and otherwise altered, provided there is no increase in the degree of non-compliance, may be pertinent to this request for variance and recommends to the Commission that it consider this section in further deliberations.” Based on this BZA guidance, the PC anticipates receiving a building permit for a totally new, replacement shed with a smaller footprint and fully located on the 315 Grove Ave property.
County Code Violation: During the daytime visit to 123 Washington Grove Lane with the building inspector, PC members noted an excessive number of vehicles parked on that property. It appears that two of these are not currently registered and therefore each is an “unused vehicle” “which can be viewed at ground level from a public right-of-way or from neighboring premises” and a “visual blight” according to Montgomery County Code Chapter 26, Housing and Building Maintenance Standards. It is recommended the Mayor request Montgomery County to investigate this property and enforce this County law that is applicable in Town.
Subdivision Activity: PC members have been contacted by Mel Golden, a recent purchaser of the home and property at 326 Ridge Road. This property was annexed into the Town as part of Washington Grove Hills, and is in the Town’s RR-4 Zone. The State’s website indicates the property area is 39,639 square feet, and the RR-4 minimum lot size is 18,000 square feet. The property area is less than the requirement for a forest conservation plan. Discussions with Mel Golden reflect expectations that an application may be submitted soon to subdivide this property to provide an additional buildable lot.
Master Plan 2020 Update: A master plan work session was held on January 15. The PC reviewed the updates done thus far, starting with the Introduction. Exhibit A (Current Zoning and Grove Areas) needs significant map updates, and mapping capabilities are being explored. Edit and review of Exhibit B (Town Buildings, Parks, Community Facilities) is underway, e.g. adding the Dog Park. For Section 1, discussion will be added for the RR-4 Cluster Zone and for porches on Town land, with both the easement and sale solutions. In Sections 1 and 2, for the potential creation of new zoning associated with municipal growth, the “Services” title will be updated to “Employment Office” to reflect the new County classification for the Roberts Oxygen property. A master plan working draft is available on the Town website. The next PC work session is scheduled for February 19.
MCCATHRAN HALL – Charlie Challstrom
Hallway and Restroom Refurbishments – Town Maintenance completed refurbishments on the lower level of McCathran Hall including the flooring, bead board, and trim in the restrooms.
Water Heater Replaced – The 14-year-old natural gas water heater for McCathran Hall was replaced by Jack Mettee Plumbing & Heating. Due to Montgomery County Code updates now requiring location within heated space, Steve Werts has added a space heater to the utility enclosure on the Chestnut Road side of the Hall.
MONTGOMERY MUNICIPAL CABLE (MMC) – Charlie Challstrom
Sign Restoration/Reconstruction Project – Recent MMC video work helped to document the Washington Grove street sign restoration/reconstruction project. This project will receive a Montgomery Preservation award at the organization’s annual awards ceremony on March 14 at the Grace United Methodist Church in Gaithersburg. MMC has offered to capture the ceremony on video and then incorporate it in the video as well.
MMC Annual Meeting – This meeting was held on January 30 at the Kensington Town Hall. This meeting was a gathering of MMC member municipalities in Montgomery County. We elected the MMC officers for 2020, reviewed MMC Year in Review 2019 (video highlights including Washington Grove) and use of the MMC YouTube channel for live streaming of MMC cable programs, videos, and playlists. MMC also demonstrated new mobile equipment that can be loaned to municipalities for video capture of meetings or special events.
CENSUS – Charlie Challstrom
Census Public Service Announcements – I shared two more Census short public service announcements via the Yahoo Group, hoping these are useful to answer questions about how to take the Census, and what the Census affects. I also used Nextdoor for the first time to post an announcement that the Census Bureau is still hiring up to 500,000 temporary, part-time census takers for the 2020 Census in communities across the country. Nextdoor currently has 53 Washington Grove residents signed up. When you post a message to Nextdoor, you can select just Washington Grove households, or you may add neighboring communities. Nextdoor is used for messages to residents from County agencies, including the Montgomery County Police.
CONTRACTS – Rob Gilmore
Nothing to report.
DOG PARK – Rob Gilmore
Nothing to report.
WOODS – Rob Gilmore
The Woods Committee held a meeting on February 3, 2020, at 7:30 pm at Town Hall. The Committee had voted to approve the guidelines and are now in place. The Committee reported that a total of 14 deer had been harvested during the deer hunting season in the East and West woods combined. No adverse events were reported. Bow Hunting Fire Fighters of Maryland (BHFFMD) will remove the tree stands, feed station, and trail cameras within the next week. The Committee proposes that the contact with BHFFMD, David Berk, attend or call-in to the March 2020 Woods Committee meeting for a debrief on the first season of deer harvesting.
The Committee also discussed a maintenance plan to include marking and blazing the East and West Woods trails, installing a few trail markers and proposing ideas for mitigating wet areas of the trails. Pat Klein and Joan Mahaffey have reached out to the Maryland Woodland stewards program to schedule a guided walk in the East Woods.
The Committee is scheduling a West Woods spring clean-up day on Saturday, April 25, in coordination with the Lake and Recreation Committees.
The Committee discussed the potential application of the Montgomery County pesticide law, and agreed with the Mayor that the law does not apply to Washington Grove town property, including the Woods.
The Committee also has prepared a proposed budget for FY2021 for submission to the Town Council.
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – Rob Gilmore
Nothing to report.
STORMWATER MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE – Rob Gilmore
The Stormwater Management Committee did not hold a meeting in January 2020; the Committee will be holding a meeting on Tuesday, February 11, 2020, to discuss, among other items, the ongoing Request for Proposal undertaking for an initial stormwater management study. One bidder contacted Rob Gilmore to raise for the Town Council’s consideration the timing of when the Town should have the study performed, indicating that it would be better if the study occurred prior to the tree foliage blooming, as that will make the surveying effort easier and faster, and thus would cost the Town less money.
WEBSITE – Marida Hines
Routine maintenance and content updates continue with no issues.
RECREATION – Marida Hines
The Recreation Committee is moving their regular meetings from Wednesdays due to the Chair’s other commitments. It has been hard getting a convenience standing day but tentatively it will be Tuesday evenings, with the next meeting scheduled for February 20. As usual, meetings will be open to the public.
Summer in the Parks was threatened due lack of signups. Emily Cavey posted a notice to the Listserv requesting immediate feedback from residents on whether they plan on having a child attend. This resulted in enough signups to have SITP this summer. The current leader of SITP is leaving and a new person will need to be identified.
The Rec Committee is severely understaffed and repeated calls for volunteers have not succeeded. They are considering which programs to drop due to lack of resources, with the most likely being cutting back considerably on Labor Day activities, which have not been well attended in recent years. A survey has been drafted for potentially reaching out to the residents to get a feeling for which activities should be retained and which dropped. Whether to move forward on this will probably be determined at the next meeting.
COMMUNICATIONS WORK GROUP – Marida Hines
Nothing to report.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS & SAFETY COMMITTEE – Pat Klein
The EPSC met on January 23, 2020 to continue discussions on the following topics.
The EPSC reflected on recent town concerns for a troubling household event, the role of local social media tools (Yahoo Groups, Nextdoor, Facebook) to inform residents, the local police response, and the need to renew the Montgomery County Police town liaison position. It was suggested a Town Bulletin notice be posted to encourage residents to join Nextdoor.
The Committee is coordinating with the Montgomery CERT program manager for a CPR/AED training at McCathran Hall in March 2020. To date, 13 residents have expressed interest to attend. A reminder notice will be posted in the Town Bulletin with a request for donation to the CERT program from each trainee.
The EPSC has prepared a draft letter from the Mayor to the County Executive regarding public road safety issues to include safe access at Ride-On bus stops, hold back lines and sensors approaching the Deer Park humpback bridge, and roadway erosion along Railroad Street near the bridge. The letter will be submitted to the Town Office for the Mayor’s review and signature.
The next meeting will be February 27, 2020.
MAPLE LAKE – Pat Klein
The first Lake Committee Meeting of the New Year will be February 20th at 7:30 PM in McCathran Hall. The committee will work on the FY21 budget proposal, begin outreach for life guards and a swim instructor, and will contact NatureWorks CWA and Water Quality to schedule seasonal services.
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION – Audrey Maskery
The next F&B meeting will be held at 7:30pm on 11 March 2020 in the new council room. All Town residents interested in joining F&B or wishing to discuss future tree planting sites in the public areas of Town will be most welcome.
MAINTENANCE – Audrey Maskery
The new vinyl plank flooring has been laid in passageway from Old Council Room to New Council Room it is a lighter color than the old flooring providing a lighter passageway.
Work on bathrooms in Town Hall, remove toilet and urinal in men’s bathroom, replacing the wall behind urinal with easy clean backsplash, replace flooring throughout re-install toilet and urinal.
Work repeated in women’s bathroom, the flooring is a continuation of the vinyl planks laid in hallway from the Old Council Room.
All holiday decorations removed from the Town Hall and stored in maintenance warehouse.
Worked on the handicap lift at the Town Hall ready for the State inspection.
Moved all furniture from the New Council Room ready for floor finishing by contractor over holiday period.
Council Room furniture replace after floor finishing, the large map case has been relocated to the Old Council Room providing a larger seating area for public. Refurbished council table placed in New Council Room to see if the configuration is acceptable.
MEMORIALS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report.
PLAYGROUNDS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report.