8 January 2018 | Approved: 19 February 2018
Mayor Joli McCathran called the meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Council Members John Compton, Pat Klein, Audrey Maskery, John McClelland, Greg Silber and Treasurer Mary Challstrom. Also in attendance were Historic Preservation Commission members Gail Littlefield and David Stopak. Residents Charlie Challstrom, Marilynn Frey, and Bud O’Connor were in attendance.
Approval of Agenda:
Pat Klein moved to approve the agenda. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, approved.
Closed Meeting Statement:
The 11 December 2017 meeting of the Town Council in the Council Room in McCathran Hall went to a closed session at 10:50 PM. The meeting was closed under General Provisions Article 3-305(b), (1) to discuss the appointment, employment, assignment, promotion, discipline, demotion, compensation, removal, resignation, or performance evaluation of appointees, employees, or officials over whom this public body has jurisdiction or any other personnel matter that affects one (1) or more specific individuals. Audrey Maskery, John McClelland, Greg Silber and Shelley Winkler voted to close the meeting. The Mayor and Town Council attended the closed session. This was a discussion about personnel matters. No action was taken. There was no recorded vote.
Woman’s Club President Marilynn Frey came to address the subject of a proposed permanent easement for the clubhouse which is located on Town land. She said the Woman’s Club Board and members are happy with the current status on arrangements with the Town and have no interest in the owning the underlying land. There was a discussion about the following:
- The title for the property
- Insurance coverage
- The history of ownership
- $1.00 per year rental of the Town land
- Use of a Public Ways and Property Permit for a facility on Town land
Bud O’Connor asked the Town Council to decide about the petition regarding the sale of parcels of land according to the Town Policy for Sale of Surplus Parcels. By the end of the Special Meeting of the Town Council on January 4, 2018, he felt no actual action took place. It was explained to Bud action had occurred and an ordinance will be written as voted on by the Town Council at the close of the Special Meeting of the Town Council and will take time to enact to ensure proper process is followed.
Approval of Minutes:
Greg Silber moved to approve the minutes of the Town Council meeting on December 11, 2017 and post them to the website. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, approved.
Treasurers Report 2017-December pdf
The Treasurer’s Report for December was accepted by general consensus. Treasurer Mary Challstrom fielded a few questions from the Council.
John Compton moved to transfer $10K from savings to checking to pay bills. Greg Silber seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0.
John Compton moved to transfer $50K to Maryland Local Government Investment Pool (MLGIP). Pat Klein seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0.
Budget Process Scheduling for FY 2019:
The Budget Worksession is scheduled for March 26, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. Mayor McCathran asked members to get their requirements to Mary Challstrom by the end of February. The contract for refuse and recycling collection and disposal will be awarded at the March meeting of the Town Council.
HPC Recommendation for Awarding Contract Updating/Revising Washington Grove’s Historic District Nomination:
Mayor McCathran asked David Stopak and Gail Littlefield for the HPC’s recommendations for the work RFP’s. Gail reported the proposal submitted by Robinson & Associates was their first choice. The HPC was questioned why the historic district nomination is being re-done. The answers are as follows:
- Corporate boundaries have changed since the first nomination in 1979.
- Period of significance and architectural significance have changed.
- The process has evolved to include the appreciation of landscaping, the woods, the lake, the fields, streetscapes and view sheds.
- Threats to our boundaries; support from 106 Process (Federal & State).
John McClelland moved to accept the Robinson & Associates proposal to update/revise Washington Grove’s Historic District nomination. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion.
15 The Circle Easement – Vote for Approval:
Taunton Paine has expressed an interest in purchasing the Town land under his front porch with the decision of the Special Town Council Meeting. At this time an expedient course is to allow for a permanent easement. Council members discussed the need to combine all the documents associated with the permanent easement for this property into one (1) document and allowing Taunton Paine to review and sign-off on the documents before the ordinance is written. David Stopak offered to put the documents together and send to Taunton for his review before the Council will approve the easement. No vote was taken.
Master Plan Update:
Peter Nagrod, Charlie Challstrom, and Joli McCathran have created a basic strategy for the update of the 2009 Master Plan. This work needs to be completed during 2019.
The Mayor and Council discussed violations which currently exist at 107 Pine Avenue. Montgomery County inspectors verified there are two (2) dwelling units at this address. There was a general discussion about multi-family dwelling units and renting rooms in Town. The defining factor is the existence of multiple kitchens in one (1) home. Mayor McCathran asked if new regulations should be written or if the Town should use what already exists for enforcement of current ordinances. The general consensus of the Council was to move ahead with enforcement at 107 Pine. Property owner will be asked to remove the oven, stove and microwave by a date certain. If that day passes with nothing done, the owner could be fined $100.00 per day until compliance occurs. If the owner does not pay the fine, a lien could be placed on the home. All agreed revising current regulations, in-law suites and rental licenses should be discussed by both the Planning Commission and the Town Council.
Greg Silber moved to approve and post the Council Reports. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion and was carried.
There was a discussion about an RFP for the purchase of a whole-building generator for McCathran Hall. Some members question the need for such a large generator. Pat Klein would like John McClelland and Steve Werts to attend the January meeting of the Emergency Preparedness Committee (EPC) to discuss the generator purchase.
Pat Klein also brought up the lack of street lighting on Railroad Street at the pedestrian crossing near the train station. The Town Clerk offered to call PEPCO to find out how to get a light installed at the crossing.
Pat Klein also asked about the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) standards for renovating the wooden street signs. John Compton will provide an update at the February meeting of the Town Council. Vote: 5-0.
Mayor McCathran reported the following:
201 Washington Grove Lane – Montgomery County issued a citation for solid waste at this property. An inspection to determine the number of people living in the home has not been completed yet. Mayor McCathran will write a letter to the home owner upon receipt of additional information from the County.
Special Town Council Meeting – Mayor McCathran reported the Special Town Council Meeting on January 4, 2018 resulted in Council approval to write an ordinance to provide a process for the transfer of Town properties to adjacent property owners consistent with the 1987 Sale of Surplus Property policy. The Mayor stated this ordinance proposal is considered acting favorably upon the petition. The Mayor will determine who writes the ordinance. There was a discussion about the following:
- Length of time to get the ordinance through proper process (4-6 months)
- Justification for the decision to write the ordinance
- Planning Commission writing the ordinance
Joint Work Session – The Planning Commission, Historic Preservation Commission and the Town Council will hold a joint work session on February 26, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.
Paris Climate Agreement – John Compton presented a page from a magazine showing the Town’s name on a list of supporters worldwide. The Mayor and Council approved this on June 12, 2017.
Montgomery County Bicycle Master Plan: A public hearing on the draft Bike Path plan and funding priorities is scheduled at the offices of Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission on Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring on January 25, 2018. The route from the Shady Grove Metro Station to Gaithersburg is not on the priority list. There was additional discussion about the following:
- Bike path connections
- The process on working with Montgomery County planners
- Town officials meeting with Gaithersburg officials
- Understanding the Town’s official position
- The possibility of holding a meeting/conversation with residents to determine a solidified Town position
Charlie Challstrom reminded everyone of the existence of the Town position in the 2009 Town Master Plan and the official position of the Town is written there. Greg Silber offered to send his review of the recent meeting with Montgomery County officials to John Compton. Pat Klein suggested John Compton send any questions he may have by next week.
John Compton made note of a 25 January 2018 public hearing on the Montgomery County December 2017 draft Bicycle Master Plan, and said he intended to make a public testimony at the hearing on behalf of the Town. The Council agreed his making a testimony was suitable if it reflected only the position in the Town’s 2009 Master Plan and the Council was able to review his comments before he made them. John moved for support of his making a statement at the public hearing on the County’s draft Master Plan bike path where he will represent the Town’s current position. Pat Klein seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0.
There being no further business, the regular meeting adjourned at 9:55 p.m.
TC REPORTS – February 2018
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – John Compton
Meetings: The regular monthly meeting was held January16, 2018. The next regular meeting will be February 20, 2018.
Reviews: Plans for additions and alterations to 123 Washington Grove Lane were discussed with the owners and their architect Bryce Blair. They will return after considering HPC recommendations for breaking up the mass of the additions.
Expansion of our National Register nomination: as recommended by the HPC, the Town Council awarded Robinson Associates the National Registry Nomination Consultants contract last month. Wendy Harris will liaison with them as they start work.
15 the Circle Easement: Bob Booher and David Stopak organized the HPC draft of Exhibit C into a PDF document with a cover sheet, consistent with the Council request. It was forwarded to the Town Clerk for inclusion in a single complete Deed and Agreement document for review by the owners.
Street Sign Rehabilitation Project: Gail Littlefield reported the numbers of rehabilitated signs completed and in process. Regular status updates will be obtained from the Project leaders (Freda Temple or Susan van Nostrand) for preparing a written report to the Town Council.
Archives: Wendy Harris is gathering information about archives in the possession of the Washington Grove Methodist Church. Plans are to inventory these for Pat Patula to include scans of the documents in the Town Archives.
HPC 2019 Budget: Bob will prepare recommendations for discussion at the next HPC meeting.
Town Master Plan Update: Gail Littlefield will review potential updates to the Master Plan at a future meeting.
A Tour of Washington Grove: has been proposed by Chris Kirtz as a Preservation Maryland program event. The HPC will recommend a date, house interiors to include, and that Clare Kelly be asked to lead the tour.
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – John Compton
Spring meadow mowing by the County Parks Department has been scheduled for the last week of February (between Feb 23rd and Mar 2nd). To inform residents, a Grove Alert should be distributed after the Town Council meeting Feb 19th.
SHADY GROVE SECTOR MASTER PLAN ADVISORY COMMITTEE – John Compton
(This MNCPPC committee is charged with monitoring development in the Shady Grove Metro Master Plan area. As a committee member, I will be reporting on matters of interest to the Town and Town Council.)
Meetings: An Advisory Committee meeting was held January 23, 2018 at McCathran Hall. The next meeting of the Advisory Committee will be sometime this spring. Any interested residents are welcome to attend and should contact me for information.
Bikeways Master Plan: The Shady Grove Master Plan includes recommendations for bike and walkway connection to Washington Grove. The Committee agreed to request the highest priority in the Bikeways Master Plan for implementing the recommendations and a letter was submitted to the Planning Board on January 30.
CIP Projects: The County Executive issued his FY 19-24 Capital Improvements Program (CIP). Completion of Crabbs Branch Way Extended to Amity Drive is listed as a Facility Transportation Planning project in FY 19-20.
Sector Plan Amendment: The Planning Department will be revisiting the 2006 Shady Grove Sector Plan. A future Scope of Work will define the parameters of the amendment, which could include only amending the staging recommendations in the Plan or a broader effort that would examine both land use and zoning issues as well as staging. The Committee expressed a desire to receive a draft of the Scope of Work, prior to the Planning Board review
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – John Compton
Nothing to report
PLAYGROUNDS – John Compton
Installation of the new climbing piece by Steve Werts is in progress.
(A link to view this climbing structure is here:
MAPLE LAKE – Patrice Klein
Nothing to report
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS & SAFETY – Patrice Klein
The EPC met on January 25, 2018 to continue discussions of the following topics:
Generator Update: The TC Town Hall liaison and Town Maintenance attended this portion of the EPC meeting for continued discussion on possible installation of a Town Hall generator, with focus on electrical power coverage and generator location. The discussion emphasized primary concerns to support continuity of operations for the Town Office, and secondary concerns to protect the building during power outages and weather events that could risk freezing water lines, for example. A requirement to obtain Maryland Historic Trust approval due to the historic easement was mentioned. Detailed project costs were not discussed but the draft RFP process will include more specific cost and installation information which will be sent to the TC for consideration.
Storm Drain Discussion: Long-standing damaged storm drains were discussed as potential hazards during extreme weather events. These include (1) the drainpipe under County-maintained Railroad Street which needs replacement and re-positioned to enable better drainage of Morgan Park; (2) the larger drainpipe under the railroad tracks needs to be cleaned out to restore drainage flow from Railroad Street; and (3) the improvement of County drainage along Washington Grove Lane causing West Woods erosion which threatens the Maple Lake berm. Despite on-site consultations with County representatives in the last few years there have yet to be any remedial actions. It was noted that each Town homeowner (225 homes) pays an annual Water Quality Protection Charge to the County intended to fund County maintenance of storm drain facilities. The total paid to the County is more than $23,000 each year.
Fire Hydrant Marking: Several types of fire hydrant reflective marking was discussed for easy location by emergency responders. WSSC should be contacted for permission to mark hydrants. It was also suggested Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) be contacted for advice and recommendations. EPC will contact both WSSC and MCFRS to follow up on this item. This could be scheduled as a town volunteer effort.
Street Name Signs and House Signs: Forty wooden street name signs have been restored to date by Town volunteer efforts. The Woman’s Club Auction included a wooden home address sign to be done in the same style as the street name signs. The Committee intends to follow up with additional home address sign advice for the March or April Town Bulletin.
Neighborhood Watch Update: Nan Aitel-Thompson last reported that another meeting with Block Captains is yet to be scheduled; no update report was available.
Emergency Communications: EPC contacted Everbridge to obtain information on the range of emergency alert services available and the associated costs. Options of communication paths to inform residents include voice, SMS, email and social media, with estimated costs of $4,000 per year or less.
Hazard Mitigation and Master Plan Review: EPC reviewed a second draft section for the 2019 Master Plan, now entitled “Emergency Preparedness Hazard Mitigation” which includes a recommendation that the Town participate with assessments and adoption of the County Hazard Mitigation Plan. This would help to ensure Town mitigation actions are practical based on our capabilities to implement, and to maintain eligibility for pre- and post-disaster mitigation grant funding. Our Mayor was recently contacted by the Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (OEMHS) requesting a status update on hazard mitigation planning. EPC recommended material from this second draft be used to prepare the Town’s response to OEMHS. The EPC briefly discussed 2009 Master Plan Section 3.3. “Parking Policy” which identified a problem of inadequate parking space on private property, particularly along Acorn Lane. The Planning Commission and others need to work on translating elements of this “Parking Policy” into ordinance enforcement.
The next EPC meeting has been rescheduled to Monday, February 12, 2018, 7:30 p.m. to accommodate committee member’s schedules to participate.
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION – Audrey Maskery
Next Forestry and Beautification meeting 13 March 2018
MAINTENANCE – Audrey Maskery
All Christmas trees placed by roadside removed and taken to the dump. Leaves picked up from Washington Grove Land, around Maple Lake, and drainage ditches around Town. Topsoil placed in various ruts in Woodward Park plus hole on Brown Street; grass seed then spread over topsoil.
Boxed Holiday Show equipment placed in warehouse for storage.
Marked and started cutting the floor in old Council Room, debris taken to the dump. Area cleared ready for Termite treatment, temporary flooring laid down for safety reasons.
Town Hall floors cleaned and waxed. Roads/intersections plowed and sanded after snow storm. Sidewalk cleared and sanded plus Church parking lot. Additional sand purchased and placed in Maintenance to keep it dry and ready for future requirement.
Replaced refurbished street signs; Dug out crooked stop sign and replaced two walkway signs.
Footers dug for new playground equipment; supports cemented in place.
MEMORIALS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report
INTERGOVERNMENTAL – Joli A. McCathran
In early February, I attended the Maryland Mayors Association Conference in Annapolis. Guest speakers included Senate President Michael Miller and Mark Belton, Maryland Secretary of Natural Resources. The Governor hosted a reception at Government House and we attended the Senate Floor Session on the final day. Our clear message was the Restoration of Municipal Highway User Revenues, Public Information Act – Request Denials (to maintain private information of Town officers, employees, and Town residents.) and Cellular Tower Siting within Municipalities. Please contact me if you wish to know more about the legislative priorities.
The Maryland Mayors Association has launched our own web site. Please visit https://www.mdmayors.org to learn more about this organization.
I have received two publications from the Montgomery County Department of Parks. They are “Energized Public Spaces Functional Master Plan Planning Board Draft” and “Public Hearing Draft of the Technical Update to the Master Plan of Highways and Transitways Functional Master Plan.” Both documents are available for review at the Town office.
PLANNING COMMISSION – John McClelland
- 121 Chestnut Ave – Fence approved
- 203 2nd Ave – Fence approved
Proposed Town ordinance as Approved by TC for the Process and Transfer of Town Land to Adjacent Property Owners:
The draft ordinances addressing the general process for sale of Town land as well as three specific ordinances required for the individual properties were unanimously supported by the PC. Steve Werts moved to recommend the draft ordinance written by John McClelland and Charlie Challstrom (including Section 10) be brought to the Town Council for introduction at the February 19th meeting. Deb Mehlferber seconded the motion. Approved: 5-0. The mayor was asked to forward the draft ordinances so the Town attorney could review and offer suggestions as needed prior to the February 19th TC meeting.
Potential Topics for discussion at the joint work session scheduled for Feb 26, 2018 included:
- Ordinance enforcement and code enforcement officer
- Vacant properties
- Regulations/Process for rental properties as well as room rentals
- Single family vs. multi family dwelling units and zoning
The PC chair sent a letter to MOCO for the Town’s inclusion in the ongoing MOCO bike path/trail development study with support for a bike path/trail connection to the Shady Grove metro according to the Town’s Master Plan. This action was approved by the PC at a prior meeting.
Local Map Amendment:
The PC accepted and filed the local map amendment for the rezoning of the east woods. This is the final step in a long process to correct the zoning to the FR (Forest & Recreation) Zone. It will be forwarded to the TC for appropriate action according to the local map amendment process/schedule.
Storm Water Management:
The Emergency Preparedness Committee voiced flood/water drainage concerns in Morgan Park. Prior meetings with MoCo storm water management reps established that the drainage pipe under Railroad St is in dire need of repair/replacement and prevents proper drainage of Morgan Park. Since the pipe travels under Railroad St. MoCo’s DOT involvement is required (and has not been helpful to date). Charlie Challstrom pointed out that a significant tax for water management is paid by every household in WG and should be used as leverage to assist with this issue. Storm water management solutions and funding are being pursued.
House Records: Eleven more properties completed bringing the total to 164 properties.
MCCATHRAN HALL – John McClelland
- The planned 2-3 foot excavation under the kitchen floor joists was reconsidered after finding questionable foundation footers. A smaller area around the structural beam under a mutual wall with the main hall was excavated. All joists, beams and ground soil was treated for termites. 2X8 pressure treated lumber was sistered to the existing joists and a new sub floor installed. Wood flooring closely matching the current main hall floor has been installed.
- Termite treatment and structural repairs under the main hall will be done in the near future.
The wooden bench from the Old Council Room is currently being renovated
The Emergency Preparedness Committee has submitted a draft RFP for the potential purchase of a generator to service the hall and Town office. Once the specifics and costs are attained, the TC will be able to evaluate the pros and cons of such a purchase.
- The green “star trek” chairs have been taken to their final resting place. Replacement padded chairs (similar to the one in the main hall) will be purchased.
- A cracked toilet has been repaired
Council Table: The antique piano base currently found in the Hall kitchen area will be cut in half with a piano hinge installed, casters placed under the legs, a triangular leaf fabricated and the top refinished. This will provide seating for 7 in a “V” configuration.
WOODS COMMITTEE – Greg Silber (Prepared by Pat Klein and Joan Mahaffey)
The Woods Committee (WC) met on January 2, 2018 to continue the following discussions.
2019 Woods Committee Budget: A proposed itemized budget will be prepared at the February meeting to be submitted to the Town Treasurer prior to the Town budget meeting on March 26.
Criteria for Decision Making: This is a living document to be revised and improved as needed. The WC agreed to add economic impact and public perceptions criteria to the document. The criteria document would also be useful in helping to revise the Master Plan. It should be our objective guide in a structured thought process for decision making to be used to prioritize and analyze difficult issues, and in long range planning. The committee also noted the importance of our Vision-Mission statement and the need to develop our strategic plan to delineate Woods restoration efforts to include existing canopy areas to be protected and open canopy areas to be restored.
East/West Woods Restoration Updates: WC will provide one-page inserts in upcoming Town Bulletins to inform residents about ongoing activities in the East Woods restoration to include an overview of the integrated forest management approach, observations of early visible changes since IPC began non-native invasive plant control treatments, the WC staged assessment process, and deer population control options. These bulletin notices will inform Town residents of the need to protect the resources in the woods and to restore what has been damaged.
The WC agreed to continue herbicide treatments in the East Woods in Spring 2018 as part of the first year IPC contract through June 2018. The mayor reported that she approved the IPC to administer a ‘no cost’ treatment for English Ivy in the East Woods in late November. The WC will receive and evaluate an IPC report of their East Woods work from the first year. WC will include IPC expenses for the second-year contracted work in the East Woods in our FY2019 budget proposal. The WC may consider contracting IPC for some mechanical removal of invasive plants in heavily impacted areas near Daylily Lane. WC Arbor Day activity will be announced in the Town Bulletin to focus on mechanical control of non-native invasive plants.
Zoning and Map Amendments: Snider and Associates finalized cost estimates on the zoning map of the East Woods. The WC will prepare a local map amendment application to include a map identifying zoning within 100 feet of Town boundary for submission at the February 7th Planning Commission meeting.
2019 Master Plan: WC needs to review: 1.3 Land Use and Zoning – Forests, Parks and Other Town-Owned Land; 5.1 Recreation and Parks – Designated Parks and Green Space; 6.1 Environmental Concerns – Forest Conservation; 6.2 Environment Concerns – Sensitive Areas; and 9.8 Development and Preservation Strategies – Connections with Neighbors and View Sheds.
Dog Park WG Update: The DPWG majority voted in favor of the Cherry Avenue site in the East Woods (4 votes) with a minority vote for the West Woods site (3 votes) at the December meeting. Sites must be ADA accessible to include a 5-foot wide path for a wheelchair, a bench inside the fence, and handicapped parking. Any development would have to comply with the Master Plan. Some of WC members had a negative reaction to the proposed Cherry Avenue site. There was discussion about preparing a statement from the Woods Committee.
The next WC meeting is scheduled on February 5, 2018 at 7:30 PM.
CONTRACTS – Greg Silber
Fall leaf collection has closed out. We had some difficulty this year with lingering leaf piles into the winter, including the collection of all remaining leaf piles at the end of the contract period. However, this has now been completed and a final invoice was paid.
We have entered into a back-up, “as needed” contract for snow removal with RJ Landscape.
RFPs for refuse and recycling contracts have been prepared. These will be sent out soon with bids due for evaluation at the March Council meeting.
RECREATION – Shelley Winkler
The Swing Time Big Band played for a Town dance on February 10, preceded by a free dance lesson for all. Many thanks to Mary and Charlie Challstrom, and to Mary Warfield, for making this event happen!
A “Reptiles Alive” program for all ages has been scheduled for Sunday, April 15 at 2pm, in McCathran Hall.
Planning for Summer in the Parks is underway. This year the camp will be held from July 3 through July 26, with the annual campout on July 27. Thanks to Emily Cavey and Jenn Hix for volunteering to keep this incredible Grove experience available once again for the children. The SITP enrollment form was included in the February Town Bulletin and is available online.
WEBSITE – Shelley Winkler
Bill Saar has made a lot of changes to the website to make it easier to find relevant information. He has streamlined the front page to keep information current, including a range of topics, and to make it easier to find information, without needing to scroll down a very long front page.
Please keep in mind that every committee and commission must keep the information on its page up-to-date. Simply submit all relevant information to me. We will review it for consistency with the website overall, ask any related questions, and then update the relevant website pages.
Council members, please review the pages related to any areas in your responsibilities, and ask the relevant officials or volunteers to submit updated information for any pages where it is necessary. This is critical for maintaining a current, useful website. Of course we are available to answer any questions or offer suggestions if needed. Please ask that the relevant webpages be reviewed by each of your committees/commissions/volunteer groups on a regular basis, and to include its review on that basis in the operations of the group. Perhaps each group can include this on an upcoming agenda to formalize who has responsibility for reviewing the relevant pages, and to determine the frequency of review and revision.
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Shelley Winkler
Nothing to report