13 January 2020 | Approved: PENDING APPROVAL
Mayor John Compton called the regular meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:31 p.m. In attendance were Councilors Charlie Challstrom, Rob Gilmore, Marida Hines, Patty Klein, and Audrey Maskery. Also in attendance were Treasurer Mary Challstrom, HPC Chair Bob Booher, and residents Jamie Amagai, Sat Amagai, Emily Cavey, Georgette Cole, Dave Cosson, Birgit Henninger, Don Henninger, Jenn Hix, Vernon King, Dave Lutter, Charlie Mahaffey, Joan Mahaffey, Grace Potter, Mike Schank, and Krista Zanetta.
Approval of Agenda:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the agenda. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Charlie Challstrom suggested the Town Council address Item 13 (Incidents at 201 Brown St.) during public appearances. Rob Gilmore suggested deferring Item 10 (Resolution 2019-13) to the February meeting when 100% attendance by the Council is expected. Vote: 5-0, Agenda approved as amended.
Vernon King took a moment to thank the Mayor and Council for the Grove Road speed hump. He reported it has the intended calming effect. Mayor Compton stated the Council worked for over two (2) years on this and they should be commended in acting responsibly.
201 Brown Street – Mayor Compton reviewed and summarized the incidents that occurred during last week. A stream of posts to the privately organized Washington Grove Group email listserve by a resident at 201 Brown reported apparently violent incidents affecting them and the property by unidentified perpetrators. The property owner resident was out of the country. Town residents, including immediate neighbors, posted response expressing concern, suggestions and offers to help. The Montgomery County Police responded several times to investigate. Several days into the matter, the police concluded that the reported violent actions and threats did not occur. The resident minor child was remanded to his father who lives out of state, and the adult resident was removed from the property for observation. The property owner had been contacted and planned to return to the house in the next few days.
Mayor Compton stated the Montgomery County Police appeared to have done an excellent job in dealing with this difficult situation.
Residents present, the Mayor and the Town Council discussed issues raised by the incident:
- What role is appropriate for Town officials in responding to such incidents that may threaten the safety of neighbors and the Town.
- Enforcement powers stated in the Town Charter; and that Town government is a civil authority.
- Role of the Mayor, and other Town officials.
- Role of concerned neighbors.
- When being proactive is the responsible course.
- The Listserve’s helpful role in obtaining a response by the Montgomery County Police.
- Methods of informing Town residents (Listserve, Facebook)
- Re-establishing the assignment of a Montgomery County Police Liaison to Washington Grove to facilitate direct communication.
- Role for the Moderator of the Listserve; removing posts from the Listserve and the Facebook page
- Planning ahead in the event there is another incident.
Action: Mayor Compton will contact the Montgomery County police liaison and discuss renewing that function. Mayor Compton will talk to the property owner and ask if he would consider posting something on the Listserve to inform users of subsequent actions taken.
Approval of Minutes:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the December 9, 2019 Town Council Meeting minutes. Robert Gilmore seconded the motion. Regarding Resolution 2019-19, Charlie Challstrom noted that copies used at the Town Council meeting inadvertently retained a redundant sentence in Section 3(c) that had been removed in the version presented to the Town Council by the Planning Commission. After discussion, all agreed the approved version of Resolution 2019-19 pdf would omit this sentence.
Patty Klein noted some of her edits of Resolution 2019-13 concerning a transition period were missing. Mayor Compton read two (2) versions of the section in question. By general consensus, the following language was approved for inclusion:
“The pros and cons of Town Council members serving as Officers on Town Committees was discussed, and the possibility of a transition period for anyone currently serving in both roles was suggested. The matter might also be left to individual committees to decide. Concern was expressed that a dual leadership role can discourage development of new leadership and volunteerism. Mayor Compton stated Committees should be required to vote for leadership annually.”
Vote: 4-0, minutes approved as amended. Marida Hines abstained.
Treasurers Report 2019-December pdf
Rob Gilmore moved acceptance of the December 2019 Treasurer’s Report. Marida Hines seconded the motion. Treasurer Mary Challstrom referenced the Budget Process Timeline included in the Council packets. The Town Council Budget Work Session will be on March 23, 2020. Vote: 5-0, accepted.
Patty Klein moved to transfer $100,000 from the Town’s PNC money market account to the Maryland Local Government Investment Pool (MLGIP) in order not to exceed the FDIC limit of $250,000. Rob Gilmore seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, approved.
Deer Management Hunt – Update:
Patty Klein reported to date, 13 deer have been harvested from the East and West Woods. Although no hunting was initially planned for December, bow hunters did return three (3) times to further reduce the deer population. Bow hunting and the MD-DNR hunting season will end on January 31, 2020.
Bikeways Connections to Washington Grove – Discussion of the Special Town Meeting January 25th and the MCDOT Study Workshop February 13:
Mayor Compton referenced the Bulletin announcement stating a Special Town Meeting would take place on January 25, 2020 in McCathran Hall at 11:00 AM. The subject is bikeways connections to Washington Grove. He encouraged Council members to get the word out. Although discussion may happen, no votes can occur without a quorum of 50 residents. Mayor Compton expects that he and the Town Council will learn from residents the perceived pros and cons of bikeways system connections to the Town. At the Town Council meeting February 10th, the Town Council expects to decide what options to support at a Workshop scheduled for February 13th by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation in McCathran Hall. They further discussed the following for inclusion in the Special Town Meeting:
- Options for entering the Town.
- Gaithersburg’s study.
- County planning standards.
- Wetlands concerns.
- Control of Town roads.
- The proposed Town Bike Committee language in the revised Master Plan.
- Visual Aids
Risk Management Policy Statement – Emergency Preparedness & Safety Committee:
Risk Management and Safety Procedures FINAL EPSC 18nov19.pdf pdf Mayor Compton asked for comments from the Council. Charlie Challstrom thanked Dave Cosson for his fantastic, thorough job in creating this document.
Action: A one-page resolution to adopt this policy will be on the February agenda of the Town Council.
Ordinance 2019-18; Amending the Washington Grove Zoning Ordinance to Modify the Minimum Lot Size Standards for the RR-3 Zone – Discussion and Action:
Ordinance 2019-18 pdf Charlie Challstrom moved to enact Ordinance 2019-18. Patty Klein seconded the motion. The goal of this ordinance is to modify the lot size and lot lines in the RR-3 zone in order to allow a subdivision of the single property in this zone. There was a discussion about assurances to keep the old house and where in the subdivision process to impose conditions. Rob Gilmore felt it inappropriate to discuss details with the property owner no longer in attendance. There was further discussion about re-sale of historic properties, Town restrictions, and compatibility.
Action: Further discussion of the Ordinance was deferred until the February meeting of the Town Council.
Town Council Reports:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the Council Reports for posting on the Town website. Patty Klein seconded the motion. Patty Klein requested inclusion of some language removed during the editing process, Marida asked to include her report which did not make the deadline, and Charlie made some changes to his Montgomery Municipal Cable section. Vote: 5-0, approved as amended.
Trail Cameras on Public Property – Mayor Compton had been approached about the legality of placing trail cameras on public property. Some research determined that it is not illegal in Montgomery County. For now, the Town will follow the County’s lead.
Road Matters – There will be some road work near Deer Park Drive and Central Avenue in the next few weeks. Signage indicating road work and closurers will be placed on Railroad Street, Chestnut Road, and on Hickory Road for several days.
The Mayor and Council had a brief discussion about speed humps in Town. Treasurer Mary Challstrom will be asked to purchase two (2) more speed humps – the same as the hump installed on Grove Road – for installation on Chestnut Road.
Back-Up Snow Removal Contract – Charlie Challstrom moved to accept the back-up snow removal contract with R.J. Landscaping. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. There was a brief mention of the $5/hour price increase from last year’s contract. Vote: 5-0, accepted.
Mayor Compton reported the Montgomery County Department of Transportation held a kick-off meeting for their study “Washington Grove Bikeways Connector and Extension of Crabbs Branch Way to Amity Drive”. They envision studying two specific concepts for the Bikeway connection, and one for the road extension. There is current funding to construct the bikeway connection, but none for road construction. They proposed to hold a workshop to exchange thoughts and ideas with the residents of affected communities. This Study Workshop has now been scheduled for 7:00 February 13th in McCathran Hall.
Ordinance 2020-01 Amending Article XIII to include Montgomery County Code Chapter 33b “Pesticides” as applicable in the Town: Ord 2020-01 Article XIII Application of County Legislation as introduced 13jan20 pdf There was a discussion about the definition of a “pesticide”, application on private land (prohibited by new legislation), application on public land (allowed in new legislation), relevance, how often chemicals are used, and whether or not to opt-in. Additional information produced by the County will be sought.
Charlie Challstrom moved to introduce Ordinance 2020-01. Rob Gilmore seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0 to introduce.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 10:35 PM
Kathryn L. Lehman
TC REPORTS – January 2020
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – Darrell Anderson
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Darrell Anderson
STREET SIGN RESTORATION PROJECT – Darrell Anderson
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – Darrell Anderson
PLANNING COMMISSION – Charlie Challstrom
Building Permit Activity – As follow up to Planning Commission (PC) approval in September of a building permit for fencing at 112 Grove Ave, PC members now have concerns about the location of the new replacement fence. Town records indicate survey markers are located at all four corners of this property, and these need to be flagged in order to verify the replacement fence is located on the property. That verification will be done as soon as practical.
Forest Conservation Update for Cator Property (17050 Railroad Street) – The 2017 subdivision approval for this property included afforestation requirements for 30 trees and 10 shrubs. The Town holds a performance bond from the property owners to assure the afforestation is conducted and maintained. The PC reports that 27 of the required 30 trees are still living after 2 years, and the required 10 shrubs are no longer there. This report does not support Town release of the performance bond. The PC requests that the property owners be contacted to request the necessary replacement plantings.
2019/20 Master Plan Update – The PC’s next Master Plan Work Session was held on January 15. The PC will be reviewing the update work done thus far using the latest draft version on the Town website that is dated November 20, 2019.
MONTGOMERY MUNICIPAL CABLE (MMC) – Charlie Challstrom
Sign Restoration/Reconstruction Project – MMC video staff recently returned to Washington Grove to document the street sign restoration/reconstruction. Melissa Aymold, MMC Station Manager, has made a documentary available for viewing on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ux8YBgNOwhQ&feature=youtu.be
The MMC staff is working on a longer version of the documentary and will soon start a sign restoration instructional video.
MMC Annual Meeting – Thursday, January 30, 1:00 p.m., at the Kensington Town Hall. This is a meeting of MMC member municipalities in Montgomery County. (Gaithersburg, Rockville, and Takoma Park have their own, separate cable channels and production studios.) During the meeting, we’ll review the success of adding the MMC YouTube channel (search “Montgomery Municipal Cable”) for live streaming of MMC cable programs, videos, and playlists. We’ll also announce availability of new remote equipment that can be loaned to municipalities for video capture of meetings or special events. All are invited to the MMC Annual Meeting.
CENSUS LIAISON – Charlie Challstrom
2020 Boundary and Annexation Survey – I responded to this annual Census survey to confirm Washington Grove has no boundary changes, annexations, or contact updates to report this year.
Census Public Service Announcement (PSA) – I used the Yahoo Group to share a PSA that explains how the Census Bureau keeps your personal information safe and secure. By law, it cannot be shared with other government agencies, law enforcement, or landlords. To watch this 30-second PSA via YouTube, click on:
2020 Census PSA: Is My 2020 Census Data Safe?
April 1 is Census Day – By this day, every household in America will have received an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. People are asked to say how many people live in their home as of April 1. This is the first U.S. census to offer options to respond online or by phone, in addition to the option to respond on a paper form as with previous censuses. In May, census takers will begin knocking on the doors of people who didn’t respond. The outcome of this count will have major impacts on redistricting and funds distribution for the next decade.
MCCATHRAN HALL – Charlie Challstrom
Hallway and Restroom Refurbishments – Town Maintenance completed replacement of the flooring in the lower level hallway, and continues with replacing flooring and wallboard in the restrooms. This is the first refurbishment of these areas since the major remodel in 1996.
Council Room Rearrangements Evaluation – Hawkins Floor Company completed refinishing the hardwood floor in the Council Room. Removing items prior to floor refinishing has provided an opportunity to evaluate alternative arrangements for furnishings and functions. Use of the fold-out hinged table (former square piano) allows the Mayor and Council to evaluate facing the audience. Relocation of the large flat files has provided additional capacity for audience chairs. Locations of two printers and the copier have also been adjusted. Based on feedback and suggestions, decisions should be made regarding the Council Room table and chairs.
CONTRACTS – Rob Gilmore
The Town Council will review the stormwater study RFP responses and potentially make an award to one of the bidders to perform that study. There are no RFPs for recurring contracts until 2021.
DOG PARK – Rob Gilmore
The Dog Park Committee did not hold a meeting in December. The Dog Park is being used by around 10 members. The Committee intends to hold promotional events in the spring to increase Town awareness and usage. There have been no incidents involving dogs fighting or being injured, and the facility remains in good repair.
WOODS – Rob Gilmore
The Woods Committee held a meeting on Monday, January 6, 2020. During that meeting, the Committee deliberated on, and approved, a set of procedural providing for its operation and governance, including measures concerning election of officers, membership, and voting, among other items. The deer management efforts are ongoing. The deer hunting has resulted in 12 deer harvested to date. That effort will continue through the end of January. The Committee held a West Woods work day on November 9 and re-opened Cherry Avenue by removing old Exclosures #2 and #3. They are scheduling a West Woods clean-up day with the Lake Committee in the spring. One of the walking path bridges in the East Woods that had fallen into disrepair was repaired; thanks to the Town Maintenance team. The Committee would like to install new trail markers on posts throughout the Woods, and is exploring the best signage post options.
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – Rob Gilmore
Nothing to report.
STORM WATER MANAGEMENT – Rob Gilmore
The Stormwater Management Committee did not hold a meeting December. The RFP for the initial stormwater study has been issued and the Committee and Town Council will review the responses. At a resident’s request, the Committee and the Town will be assessing raising the Oak Avenue walking path and improving the culverts, to reduce water ponding.
WEBSITE – Marida Hines
Nothing to report.
RECREATION – Marida Hines
Nothing to report.
COMMUNICATIONS WORK GROUP – Marida Hines
Nothing to report.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS & SAFETY COMMITTEE – Pat Klein
The EPSC met on December 19, 2019 and discussed the following topics.
The Committee has solicited Town resident interest in a receiving CPR training for a winter preparedness event. At least a dozen positive responses were received. EPSC will schedule the CPR training in late February or early March and will consider if a reimbursed registration fee upon course completion would help ensure attendance.
The Committee is drafting a letter to be sent by our Mayor to the Montgomery County Executive on several County-related safety issues to include safe crossings at each RideOn Bus Stop, hold-back line improvements near Humpback Bridge, and Railroad Street pavement deterioration.
EPSC will recommend including “Stop The Bleed” kits in our Town first-aid kits, and to mount a first-aid kit on the wall under the AED device by the Town Hall bathrooms.
The next EPSC meeting is scheduled on January 23, 2020.
MAPLE LAKE – Pat Klein
The Lake Committee is on winter break.
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.