9 January 2017 | Approved: 13 February 2017
Mayor Joli McCathran called the meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Council Members Georgette Cole, Patrice Klein, Audrey Maskery, John McClelland, Greg Silber and Shelley Winkler. Also present were Treasurer Mary Challstrom, Woods Committee Co-Chair Joan Mahaffey, residents Charlie Challstrom, Bruce Crise, Christine Dibble, Meghan O’Connell and property owner Dennis Kane. Invasive Plant Control, Inc. (IPC) representatives Spencer Johnson and Andrew Harris also attended the meeting.
Approval of Agenda:
Georgette Cole moved to approve the agenda. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Mayor McCathran suggested removal of item #7 (Road Improvements RFP) due to the need for input from the Town attorney. This will be on the February agenda. Vote: 6-0, approved as amended.
There were none.
Approval of Minutes:
Shelley Winkler moved to approve the minutes of the Town Council meeting of December 12, 2016 and post them to the website. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0, approved as amended.
Treasurers Report 2016-December pdf
John McClelland moved to accept the Treasurer’s Report for December 2016. Greg Silber seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0, accepted.
Shelley Winkler moved to transfer $6K from a money market account to checking to pay bills and to transfer $30K from a money market to Maryland Local Government Investment Pool (MLGIP). Georgette Cole seconded the motion.
Woods Committee Bid – Spencer Johnson, IPC:
Mayor McCathran explained the IPC, Inc. representatives were in attendance to answer questions from the Mayor and Council regarding their bid. Woods Committee Co-Chair Pat Klein acknowledged the hard work of committee members, gave a brief history of how and why the project evolved including a consultation with and invasive plant species expert, and explained the approach as a holistic, long-term solution to our non-native plant incursion in the East Woods. Spencer Johnson fielded questions about the following:
- Commonly used methods of integrated pest management (mechanical control, chemical control, cultural control/resident education)
- Use of herbicides (types, strength, dye, when to spray, absorption), how to minimize their strength and use, and any effects on wildlife or people and their pets
- Qualifications of IPC employees who will perform the work
- What the Town can expect the treated area to look like
- Use of exclusion fencing to prevent deer browsing
- Equipment (ATV & trailer)
The Mayor and Council thanked Spencer and Andrew for attending the meeting. Mayor McCathran suggested an informational Town meeting be scheduled for residents to listen to their presentation of work and ask questions before the work begins. The Mayor and Spencer will work on a mutually acceptable date. Pat Klein moved to accept the IPC, Inc. bid amount for treating invasives in all the East Woods ($32,526.35). Georgette Cole seconded the motion. The Clerk took the following roll call vote: Georgette Cole – Aye; Patrice Klein – Aye; Audrey Maskery – Aye; John McClelland – Aye; Greg Silber – Aye; Shelley Winkler – Aye.
Both Christine Dibble and Meghan O’Connell expressed their hopes that information about the holistic solution, including use of herbicides and the exclosures, be presented to the Town together as an integrated forest management plan. A brief discussion on this matter occurred. The Woods Committee co-chairs reiterated the commitment to a holistic approach.
Joint Meeting (TC, PC, HPC) Items for Agenda – Discussion:
Mayor McCathran announced Town Attorney Suellen Ferguson will attend the meeting. The following items were considered for the agenda:
- General discussion about easements
- Woods Committee work
- Master Plan – preliminary discussion
- Step 2 in the Mansionization process
- Vacant Property Task Force
Audrey Maskery moved to approve the Council Reports for posting on the web. Shelley Winkler seconded the motion. The Council made some changes to the reports. Vote: 6-0, approved, as amended.
Mayor McCathran reported Family Services was no longer able to sponsor the trash/recycling collection along Washington Grove Lane. She asked if anyone would be interested in getting a Town group together to take on the task formally. Audrey Maskery volunteered and will also contact members of the new Border Committee. It was suggested this item be placed in the Town Bulletin.
Mayor McCathran reported the following recent vandalism in Town:
- Tar or oil spilled on both baselines of the hard tennis courts
- Tar or oil spilled on the memorial bench, the rock and the plaque in Morgan Park
- Sixteen trees girdled in the Washington Grove Meadow Park
The police were called for all three (3) incidents. These are considered criminal activities.
There was a discussion about taking additional security measures in Town about scheduling a meeting with representatives from the Montgomery County Police Department.
Treasurer Mary Challstrom brought the budget process handout to the Mayor and Council’s attention. The budget work session will take place on March 27, 2017. Mary asked for budget items to be presented by February 23, 2017.
There was no new business.
There being no new business, the meeting adjourned at 10:30 p.m.
Georgette Cole moved, Shelley Winkler seconded the meeting be closed to the public in order to discuss personnel matters. Vote: 6-0.
The Mayor and Council went into closed session at 10:34 p.m.
TC REPORTS – February 2017
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – Georgette Cole
Review Session: #15 The Circle (Bittersweet Cottage): Taunton Paine arranged a slide presentation showing plans for modification and repair to the property. Taunton’s contractor, David Weimer, was available to answer any questions regarding the proposed project. Part 1 of the slide show consisted of a “walk through” – including exterior photographs of the front, middle extension, side extension and rear; as well as several interior photographs of the kitchen and family room areas; Part 2 of the slide show consisted of redlined photographs showing rough plans for the areas in need of repair and demolition. Mimi will prepare an early consultation review and it was suggested that Taunton contact Peter Nagrod (PC Chair) to get an overview of the process involving building and demolition permits that will be required for this project.
Taunton was also made aware that the front porch of his property encroaches onto Town land and the Commission discussed the permanent easement application process with him. This item will be added to a future agenda so the HPC can begin to prepare documentation on the historic integrity features description of the property. Taunton stated that he hopes to have the house ready to go on the market sometime in mid-2017, so, it would be beneficial to have the permanent easement resolved by then.
Old Business: Bud & Carolyn O’Connor were present to discuss their concerns and displeasure with Exhibit C to the Deed of Easement for 409 5th Avenue. They believe the scope greatly exceeds what is necessary and they are very uncomfortable with the language that currently exists in the document. Acting Chairman David Stopak explained that since the Town Council approved the Easement Resolution on November 14, 2016 the HPC could not make changes in the existing document unless the entire easement process was started over from the beginning.
Design Guidelines Working Group Report: Wendy met with Pat and Mimi on January 16th to review and discuss design guidelines for other historic districts and communities. The group’s goal is to update and refine the scope of the existing guidelines and focus on specific house design elements. Proposed additions to the guidelines include:
A map of the entire Washington Grove historic district in order to show the distribution of resources.
Illustrations of the various house design elements that are described in the guidelines.
A new section of the design guidelines devoted to open spaces and streetscapes.
The work group intends to meet once a month to pursue these issues.
Vacant Properties: Vacant Houses was removed from the Joint Meeting Agenda on January 31 because the task force has not yet submitted their findings.
New Business: The Town Council liaison spoke about the possible zoning violations on Oakmont Avenue and asked if the HPC wished to take a formal stand on the matter. The HPC members discussed the location of the violation and concluded it was not within the purview of the Commission.
PLAYGROUNDS – Georgette Cole
Nothing to report.
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – Georgette Cole
The MNCPPC Parks Department has planted a total of 29 new trees in the Meadow. There are nine American Hornbeam trees along the Ridge Road tree line between #112 and #118. There is a cluster of ten trees on the north and ten trees on the south side of the transverse path on the eastern tree line side of the meadow. These twenty trees are a mixture of pin oak (Quercus palustris), tulip poplar (Liriodendron tuipifera), Kentucky coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus), Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa), and redbud (Cercis canadensis). These are species native to the Piedmont and will be large trees when they attain full growth, with the exception of the redbud which will be smaller.
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – Georgette Cole
It has been slightly over a year since the last Shady Grove Crossing house was sold by Toll Brothers. They have applied to the town for release of the well bond which was held in escrow against possible well failure along lower Ridge Road. I have emailed these residents to let them know the one year period has ended and ask if anyone has documents showing well failure. If no information is received by February 13 the Town will proceed with returning the bond to Toll Brothers.
MAPLE LAKE – Patrice Klein
The Lake Committee is on winter break. Next meeting will be Thursday, March 16th at 7:30 PM.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS– Patrice Klein
EPC held its monthly meeting on January 19, 2017. Regularly scheduled meeting dates will be monthly on the fourth Thursday. One committee member will be the AED coordinator and has registered the Town Hall AED unit. The AED metal cabinet was ordered by the Town Treasurer and has been delivered. Installation of the device and cabinet is pending to be placed on the wall between bathrooms in the Town Council room hallway. Another committee member is exploring availability of CPR/AED awareness training and certification training classes for Town residents and staff, respectively.
Recent town vandalism encouraged discussion on reactivating Neighborhood Watch (NW). The previous NW coordinator agreed to help the Committee to review the previous list and distribution of block captains. The Committee also will identify the current MC police liaison officer to establish direct contact on NW issues and report back at the next meeting. Mark Frederiksen offered to assist the Committee and Town Maintenance Supervisor on the purchase and installation site of the emergency back-up generator for the Town Hall. Approval by the Maryland Historic Trust is necessary because of the historic easement.
Final arrangements were made for a presentation to Town residents by Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (MCOEMHS) Outreach Coordinator, Joe Corona, which was held on January 28, 2017 in McCathran Hall. MC Fire Captain DeMent also presented emergency preparedness information at this meeting. Approximately 30 people attended.
The Committee will be requesting a dedicated space in the Town Bulletin for monthly notices.
Further discussion on working through the Emergency Preparedness Task Force recommendations will occur at the next meeting scheduled on February 9, 2017.
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report.
MAINTENANCE – Audrey Maskery
- Removed Christmas tree and decorations from Town Hall, collected Christmas trees throughout Town and took to dump.
- Cleaned vandalized bench and rock in Morgan Park.
- Installed power flush kit in woman’s bathroom; purchased and installed motion switch on lift light in Town Hall.
- Purchased sand for roads; put plow and sander on truck ready for use if needed.
- Removed broken benches and started repairing concrete portion of the bench.
- Worked in playground: placed drainage fabric; wood chips; and installed two new pieces of equipment. Continued working on drainage around play equipment.
- Removed debris out of ditch at lake, fencing moved due to erosion; dug new post holes and poured concrete. Fencing to be hung when concrete ‘sets up’.
MEMORIALS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report.
PLANNING COMMISSION – John McClelland
Building Permit Applications:
- 118 Grove Ave – Fence approved
- 114 Ridge Rd Addition – Meets Town ordinance but needs HPC review
- 201 Brown St – Fence was previously denied due to lack of boundary survey and height. PC Chair and Mayor to contact property owner to have noncompliant fence removed.
Commercial Corner: Aaron Pollard of the Highway Christian Church delivered a letter requesting to schedule a BZA hearing. Lease/occupancy is expected in next few months contingent upon results of the BZA hearing.
Easements: HPC reports for all encroaching properties are encouraged – especially after the Town’s legal counsel advised of Town liability exposures.
National Flood Insurance Program Representative: Charlie Challstrom has agreed to continue in this capacity.
House Files: 92 properties completed.
Master Plan and Ordinances:
Current “single family” zoning to be examined due to a number of purported two family residences.
The Mayor will contact the owner of 304 Chestnut Ave for violation of the single family dwelling structure ordinance. (Brought to the attention of the Town by a craigslist advertisement promoting the rental of two basement apartments apparently built in the basement of the home).
Consideration of incorporating “fences” into Article VII Section 5.3 Non Complying Buildings
Oakmont Ave: Montgomery County zoning being investigated for legality of truck parking and auto sales/storage. A complaint from the Town was requested to be filed with MoCo.
MCCATHRAN HALL – John McClelland
Nothing to report.
WOODS COMMITTEE – Greg Silber
The Committee made a presentation on Committee activities including a proposed deer fence exclosure in the East Woods to the 30 January joint meeting of the Council/Historic Preservation Commission/Planning Commission. The goal was to solicit views and feedback from members of these groups. A related presentation on the proposed exclosure and non-native plant control in the East Woods will be given at an informational Town meeting on Monday evening 27 February. This is to inform residents of activities in the woods and to get feedback on these actions. Representatives from IPC will attend.
At its last meeting, the Committee discussed, among other things, review and update of Committee information and activities on the Town web site; the Committee’s presentation at the upcoming Town informational meeting; considerations for the Committee’s 2018 budget request; and status of the East Woods border survey. The Committee also interviewed USDA biologist Kurt Vercauteren about his studies of white-tailed deer and the make-up of deer exclusion fencing, as a compliment to advice provided by previously consulted experts on these and related topics.
The Committee will meet again on Monday, 6 March, 7:30 p.m.
CONTRACTS – Greg Silber
At its December meeting the Council selected Snider & Associates for a contract to survey and mark the eastern boundary of the East Woods and associated areas. The work is expected to start soon and should be completed by May.
The Council accepted a bid, and has entered into a contract, with Invasive Plant Control, Inc (IPC) to address non-native vegetation (e.g., wisteria, stilt grass) in the East Woods. This work is expected to begin this spring.
Collection of recyclable yard waste by Potomac Disposal ended on the 29th of December. The collection of bulk leaves by GreenEarth ended early January.
RECREATION – Shelley Winkler
The Contra Dance held on February 4 attracted a nice sized crowd of dancers, and beginning dancers. People also came just to watch and listen to the music. We hired a caller and 2 musicians, and during the night more and more musicians came to play with the band, resulting in a community gathering of both music and dance.
Exercise classes in the Hall resume in February until mid-May.
A Ceili dance is scheduled for March 10. The Recreation Committee is working on ideas for a children’s program in the spring.
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Shelley Winkler
The RFP for spring road repairs is being distributed for review, focusing on the part of Brown Street from Ridge Road to just before Maple Road (including repair of a soft spot in that area), and on a part of Center Street between Grove Road and McCathran Hall (where the Grove Avenue walkway crosses Center Street). The RFP is in a new form, updated by the Town’s lawyer.
We received an inquiry into the re-sodded portion of Oak Street between Maple Road and Cherry Avenue. The area is cordoned off to pedestrian traffic until spring, so that the sod has time to set in the underlying soil. This is part of a larger effort to manage water flow and drainage.
WEBSITE – Shelley Winkler
Councilmembers, please continue to review, or ask commissions/committees you work with to review, portions of the website relating to your areas and send to me any items that need correction or changes. Many of the pages could use new or more complete information from each group. Thanks in advance for taking this request back to any committee or commission meetings you attend.
INTERGOVERNMENTAL – Joli A. McCathran
The Maryland Mayor’s Conference was held in Annapolis and I attended. Guest speakers included Christopher Shank, Chief Legislative Officer, Office of the Governor, Hon. Ben Grumbles, Secretary, Department of the Environment, Hon. Rona Kraemer, Secretary, Department of Aging, and Hon. Peter Franchot, Comptroller. The day ended with a reception at the Governor’s House.
The second day, presentations were given by Hon. David Brinkley, Secretary, Department of Budget & Management and Gregory Slater, Deputy Administrator & Chief Engineer, State Highway Administration. Then we visited local legislators to lobby for support of the Maryland Municipal League’s Legislative Priorities. Four mayors from Montgomery County presented the information before the Montgomery County Delegation Meeting.
Thanks to friends David and Sandra Drew for offering their home to me during this event.