January 10, 2022 | Approved February 14, 2022
The regular meeting of the Town Council was held remotely via ZOOM Video Conferencing. The meeting was recorded.
Mayor Compton called the meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:36 p.m. In attendance were Councilors Darrell Anderson, David Cosson, Christine Dibble, Pat Klein, and Barbara Raimondo. Gray Yachup arrived at approximately 7:45 p.m. Also in attendance were Treasurer Jean Moyer, two representatives from PEPCO (Steven Park and Alberto Zegada), and many residents.
Approval of Agenda
Pat Klein moved to approve the agenda. Mayor Compton proposed moving the Groundskeeper update and adding “Covid-19 Test Kit Distribution to his announcements.
Action: Voted 5-0 to approve as revised.
There were none.
It was moved to accept the December Treasurer’s report (PDF). The Treasurer fielded a few questions.
Action: Voted 5-0 to accept.
- Mayor Compton recognized and praised retiring employees Steve Werts and Terry Cox, thanking them for their years of service and dedication to the Town.
- Mayor Compton recognized and praised Gail Littlefield for her contributions as Commissioner on the Historic Preservation Commission (2011 – 2021).
- He anticipates an appreciation event will be held as soon as it can be done safely.
Snow Removal Contract
Mayor Compton reported few hiccups with snow/ice removal by the Town’s new contractor RJ Landscaping during the first snows of the season. The contractor will restore a speed bump and a speed hump that were hit during plowing. He discussed with them employing sand at intersections and on slopes to deal with ice, which is very labor intensive. Use of only salt will continue and be re-evaluated after further experience.
Action: The problematic intersections and slopes will be discussed with the contractor.
Reckless Motorcycle Incidents
Speeding and reckless driving was reported by multiple residents. Mayor Compton reported the offender is known by residents. He arranged for them to contact our police liaison, who has offered several options for dealing with the offender.
Action: If incidents re-occur, residents will contact our police Community Relations Officer.
Letter Drafted by the Emergency Preparedness and Safety Committee
The letter addresses the recurring dangerous speeding on Railroad Street and on Washington Grove Lane. It has been transmitted to the appropriate office in Montgomery County Dept. of Transportation and requests an evaluation of these streets for placement of speed cameras.
COVID-19 Home Test Kits Distribution
Montgomery County has offered the free test kits (2 per adult) to local municipalities for distribution. The Mayor has requested kits for distribution by the Town in Washington Grove. A number of those present volunteered to help.
Action: Volunteers will be asked to organize and help with distribution of the test kits.
Town Groundskeeper and Facilities Manager Search – Update
Darrell Anderson reported the change to the title of the job (formerly Maintenance Supervisor) has been helpful, but the number of qualified individuals has been disappointing. One was interviewed who couldn’t start until late March. He and others have suggested separating the groundskeeping duties from those of facilities manager and contracting for grounds maintenance with a landscaping service. An RFP is being prepared for consideration by the Town Council in February. In response to concerns raised about how long the Town can go without the needed services, Councilor Anderson noted few if any tasks were required prior to April according to retired Maintenance Supervisor per Steve Werts.
Action: Finalize an RFP and bring to the Town Council in February.
Proposed Installation of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
In preparation for Council discussion, Mayor Compton noted that the Council had received the requested evaluations of the proposed installation of EV chargers on Town property locations (the PEPCO proposal) from the Historic Preservation Committee (PDF) and the Planning Commission (PDF).
Objections were raised by several Councilors to the presence of PEPCO representatives, citing citing the need to discuss the Town’s strategy for negotiating an agreement with Pepco. The Mayor noted that the Town Council meeting was an open meeting (not a closed meeting), and attendees could not be excluded.
Sustainability Group member Ned Helme gave a presentation of the benefits to the Town of public EV chargers in meeting the Town’s goals for combating climate change and their recommendation in favor of proposal. Bob Booher summarized the HPC evaluation of the proposed locations of EV charger equipment and the recommendation they be of an inobtrusive design or screened appropriately.
Barbara Raimondo moved that the Town Council authorize the Mayor to negotiate an agreement with PEPCO to install up to four stations, with the agreement to brought back to the Council for approval of the agreement and of the location(s) of the charger. Discussion included a request an informational session be provided to town residents so that informed public comments could be conveyed to the Town Council prior to approval of a license.
A motion to table failed: 2 in favor (Cosson, Klein); 4 opposed (Anderson, Dibble, Raimondo, Yachup). Motion not tabled.
A motion to close the debate passed: 4 in Favor (Anderson, Dibble, Raimondo, Yachup); 2 opposed (Cosson, Klein). Debate closed.
Vote on the motion: 4 in Favor (Anderson, Dibble, Raimondo, Yachup); 1 Opposed (Klein); 1 abstention (Cosson). Resolution passed.
The Council engaged in follow-up discussion relating the potential license agreement and including proposed locations for the chargers, enforcement, management, signage, and parking.
Mayor Compton thanked the PEPCO representatives for attending the meeting.
Action: The Mayor will negotiate license locations and the terms of a licensing agreement with PEPCO.
Action: The Mayor will organize an informational meeting for residents on the EV charger proposal.
Washington Grove Liaison to the MCDOT Washington Grove Connector Facilities Study – Appointments
Based on previous discussions by the Council, Mayor Compton announced he was creating a “Liaison Committee to the Washington Grove Connector Shared Use Pathway Project”. He referenced a written charge to the Committee explaining the Committee’s purpose, areas of concern and reporting responsibilities. He put forth the following residents for appointment:
- Bob Booher
- Margo Cavenagh
- Jay Everhart
- Wendy Harris
- Barbara Raimondo
- Donna Shriner
There was a discussion about the status of this group as intergovernmental which differs from regular Town committees and commissions. There were no objections to the Mayor’s appointments.
Town Council Reports – Selected Matters of Note
Spring 2022 Timeline for Completing the Comprehensive Plan
Georgette Cole updated the Mayor and Council on the status of the Comprehensive Plan. She thanked Mimi Bolotin for her invaluable help with formatting of the current draft version. The Planning Commission proposes to schedule their Public Hearing for Wednesday, February 16, 2022, at 7:30 p.m. and to leave the public record open for comment until March 16th. The Planning Commission will review comments and vote on a final CP to send the Town Council at their April meeting.
Mayor Compton reported that the Maryland Municipal League is supporting an amendment to the Maryland statutory requirement that certain legislative actions have notices published newspapers, citing the paucity of printed newspapers and high cost.
Action: Vote 6-0 to approve Council Reports posting to the website.
Approval of Minutes
Barbara Raimondo moved to approve the new, concise version of the December minutes of the Town Council Meeting. The Council discussed Roberts Rules of Order, attaching a link to the recorded minutes on the website, and getting a YouTube channel for the minutes.
Action: Voted 6-0 to adopt.
Historic Preservation Commission
Jeff McCrehan was appointed as a regular member of the Historic Preservation Commission for a term ending June 30, 2023.
Proposal to Streamline Town Council Minutes
Adopting as Minutes a Concise Written Summary of Matters Considered and Council Actions, Accompanied by a Complete Audio/Video Recording and Closed Caption Transcript of the Meeting – Possible Action. Action: The Town Council approved continuing with the concise format for Minutes and recommended making recordings and transcripts available as supplementary material on the website using a YouTube account. Webmaster Christine Dibble will add this functionality to the Town website.
Proposal to Facilitate Timely Upload and Access to Current Agendas and Minutes of Meetings
Christine Dibble reviewed the ongoing challenge of making the Town website a reliable source of information for residents, in particular the timely posting of Committee Minutes and Agendas. She described a new process which enables each Committee to post their own agenda and minutes without intervention into a designated folder using Google Docs.
Action: Webmaster Christine Dibble will work with Town Committees to facilitate the transition to this process.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 10:40 p.m.
Kathryn L. Lehman
Reports from Individual Councilors about their Areas of Responsibility
Table of Contents
- McCathran Hall
- Maryland Municipal League
- Roads and Walkways
- Shady Grove Crossing
- Washington Grove Conservation Park
- Website and Communications
Reports about Activities of Grove Commissions
Historic Preservation Commission (Darrell Anderson)
The HPC held a virtual meeting on December 21, 2021; the next meeting will be held on January 18, 2022, at 7:30 pm by virtual means.
The HPC did not have any permits to review.
A long discussion of the mitigation effort by the Town regarding the Shared Use Pathway ensued. The HPC. I suggested that Bob meet with the Mayor to express this opinion and to argue for believes they should play a major part on the future Mitigation Task Force to be established by the Mayor. They believe their participation in discussions with MCDOT is mandated by our ordinances for the role of the HPC. On the issue of whether the County would need a Public Ways Permit to access Town property, a request for clarification will be made to Georgette Cole. The HPC will develop a list of mitigation items to include in the formation of the task force.
The HPC discussed the EV station placement and reviewed types of stations, one particularly shown by David Stopak from a recent trip. There will be ongoing discussions with PEPCO about these alternatives.
Wendy discussed recent findings regarding the steatite quarry and agricultural finds. There are no artifacts that link to indigenous people.
Planning Commission (Christine Dibble)
- The Comprehensive Plan is just about done. It will next go to Mimi Bolotin for repagination, adjusting the table of contents, and similar non-substantive changes. We anticipate being able to conduct the required public hearing on February 16th (but have a couple of back-up dates); reviewing any comments received at our March 16 meeting and sending it to the Council for discussion at its April meeting.
- The PC was able to agree on language to send to the Council about the compatibility of the EV charging stations with the Charter, current Master Plan and Code of Ordinances.
- No new building permit applications.
- The PC is still working on the forest conservation easement issues with respect to the Cator property.
Reports about Activities of Grove Committees
Border Committee (Pat Klein)
The Border Committee met on December 9, 2021 to discuss the following topics:
Welcome Signage: The contracted vendor, SignCity, reported a supply chain delay of up to two months to receive materials for the welcome signs. A 50% payment deposit was submitted by the Town to keep us in the queue and moving forward.
A committee member living on WGL reported to the County that several street signs were knocked down along WGL. He will provide an update at the next meeting. The committee discussed the Town process for managing signage. Some of the current entrance signs are falling apart and need repair. The Council liaison provided an update on signage along the cul-du-sac of Ridge Road. She explained the EPSC trimmed shrub overgrowth blocking the guard rail at the bottom of Ridge Road. Any action by the County would not happen for several years and it would be helpful to have signage to identify the connecting path. There was a suggestion for these new signs to be similar to the walkway signs. The Chair will meet with Susan Van Nostrand to discuss the process for having the signs made.
The Chair reminded the Committee we need to schedule a strategic visioning session for the WGL-RR St. corridors. He will talk to the HPC chair regarding the date.
Dog Park Committee (Christine Dibble)
Grove dogs and their owners continue to meet most weekends on Saturday or Sunday mornings for playdates.
Emergency Preparedness and Safety Committee (Pat Klein)
The EPSC met on December 16, 2021 to discuss the following topics:
Mayor’s letter to County on speed camera study/safety issues on WGL and Railroad Street: The Committee prepared a draft a letter for the Mayor to send to Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich requesting the following actions: an evaluation for speed cameras on WGL and Railroad Street; new or enhanced speed bumps on both streets; and increased enforcement of traffic violations and vehicle equipment regulations. A copy will be sent to Mr. Daniel McNickle, Program Manager, Montgomery County Police Department who is the POC for the County Speed Camera Corridor program. Last spring 2021, several town residents sent emails to Mr. McNickle requesting these evaluations but no response was received.
Shared Use Path – tracking safety incidents: EPSC can serve to track any safety incidents or concerns associated with a future shared use path. In December 2021, the Town Council and Mayor approved Resolution Number 2021-13 stating lower Brown Street as the preferred shared use path connection with continued evaluation of the Salt Barn route. The resolution requires all material safety incidents or complaints regarding the shared use path be submitted to the Town Council. EPSC members will discuss options for carrying out this role in future meetings.
Town processes to protect and shelter residents in case of natural disasters: The Committee discussed the importance of emergency communications and promoting emergency preparedness education and awareness to residents. The EPSC will coordinate with the Town Council on potential emergency communications initiatives in conjunction with ongoing improvements to the Town website. Committee members agreed the Town Council and Mayor should revisit the use of McCathran Hall as an emergency shelter or staging area and consider procurement emergency provisions or other equipment. EPSC will discuss options for the Town to consider in future meetings.
Center/Ridge street sign repair and Brown/Hickory gate support: The EPSC Council liaison worked with Town Maintenance to repair the positions of street signs on Center Street and Ridge Road for improved prominence and secured the Brown Street/Hickory Road gate.
The next EPSC meeting will be on Thursday, January 27, 2022 at 7:30 PM.
Forestry and Beautification Committee (Barbara Raimondo)
At the November Meeting the F&B Committee:
1) Reviewed Tom Land’s proposal for a Frisbee golf course beginning with one “hole” and expanding later to two if it proves popular. F&B felt the use was consistent with the use of Woodward Park and not detrimental to the trees/shrubs there. It should proceed.
2) Reviewed the planting of 12 trees so far for fall 2021 with six more to come.
3) Discussed areas to consider for Spring 2022 tree planting and the hiring of a licensed arborist to do aesthetic pruning of trees which are hard for us to reach.
F&B appreciates the inclusion of the article on tree survival in WG and what F&B and the Town is doing about it.
Lake Committee (Gray Yachup)
Miscellaneous: The Lake Committee continues to have productive meetings with RASEC regarding how we can best incorporate racial equity into our operations.
Lighting Committee (Dave Cosson)
Next Meeting: January 26th, 7:30 p.m.
Racial and Social Equity Committee (Barbara Raimondo)
- Researching anti-bias training.
- Working with the Lake Committee about proposed steps to be taken in response to racial profiling incidents at the Lake, including an anti-racist statement.
- Researching anti-racist statement that could be made on behalf of the Town.
- Working on RASEC presence on Town website.
- Translating Town welcome packet into Spanish.
- Working on a project to raise awareness of the restrictive covenants on houses in WG and steps homeowners can take.
- Researching accessory dwelling units.
- Finishing Town inclusivity survey, which is expected to be disseminated in January 2022.
Recreation Committee (Gray Yachup)
Nothing to report.
Woods Committee (Dave Cosson)
The Woods Committee met on January 3rd by Zoom and discussed the following:
Planning for 2022: The Committee began the process of preparing its budget proposal for the next fiscal year. Indications are at this time that the total amount will not change by a significant amount, but that revisions will be required within categories.
Update of 2015 Forest Stewardship Plan: In 2015 the Town Council accepted, and has followed, a Forest Stewardship Plan prepared by Maryland Forester Bill Bond. The Committee decided to contact Mr. Bond to ask if he is willing to conduct a follow-up site visit with the Woods Committee to assess our progress in restoration and reforestation of the East and West woods and provide guidance on next steps. The Committee will also reach out to the University of Maryland Extension Service’s Woodland Stewards Program experts for their advice on next steps in forest restoration.
Trail Maintenance Projects: The Committee continues its work to develop accurate and user-friendly trail maps for the East and West Woods. Ideas discussed included adding Fish and Wildlife Service wetlands boundaries and retaining professional design assistance. Among the objectives addressed would be to prevent trail damage and soil erosion by discouraging use of specific trails when they are too wet.
The Committee noted recent reports of fallen trees across trails in both East and West woods and the need for certified professionals to clear them from the trails. These reports have been forwarded to the Mayor with request for contracted professional service to re-open the blocked trails.
West Woods Storm Water Management Projects: The Committee continues to explore the process of preparing proposals for American Rescue Plan funding of stormwater damage abatement in the West Woods. There is a need for discussions with the City of Gaithersburg regarding damage caused by its culvert from the Town Crest area and its blocking of a culvert in Kelly Park that causes stormwater to back up into the West Woods.
Deer Management: The season total remains at five deer harvested in both East and West Woods. Hunting season continues through January.
The WC plans to contact the Park and Planning Commission to gather information on the potential for extending the deer control program in the Conservation Meadow and to present this information to the Town Council for action.
Committee Leadership: The Committee re-elected Patty Klein and Joan Mahaffey as co-chairs.
Next Meeting: Monday, February 7, 7:30 pm
Reports about Other Grove Activities
Contracts (Dave Cosson)
An RFP for grounds keeping and facilities management is being prepared.
McCathran Hall (Barbara Raimondo)
Nothing to report.
Maintenance (Darrell Anderson)
This is Steve’s last report.
- Went to Home Depot to pick up a Christmas tree and lights for the gazebo. Put lights on the Christmas tree and put in the gazebo.
- Cleaned leaves out of the tennis court areas.
- Cleaned the warehouse and worked on equipment – serviced and cleaned to put away for the winter.
- Went to Rippeon Equipment to purchase tire for the leaf blower. Installed new tire on the leaf blower.
- Cleaned the bathrooms at the park.
- Met with Myers & Laws to go over tree removal on 2nd Ave.
- Cleaned leaves around the lake and driveway (last time before winter).
- Cleaned the ditch in the park.
- Picked up stump grindings (from tree removal) on 2nd Ave.
- Picked up two loads of brush and leftover firewood around town – went to the dump.
- Met John and Georgette at Town Hall for interview with applicant for maintenance position.
- Put away props used in the Holiday Show in the warehouse for storage.
- Took down the last tennis net in the clay court to store for the winter.
- Fixed blown over stop sign.
Maryland Municipal League (Darrell Anderson)
The MML held a virtual meeting on December 16, 2021, at 6:30 pm. The next meeting will be the Opening Day Legislative Reception in Annapolis on January 10, 2022 (since been canceled due to omicron).
This meeting was held with our Montgomery County Legislative Delegation for an update on MML priorities for 2022. Priorities include the following:
1. COVID relief funds from the state.
2. Amending the requirement to post certain notices in newspapers (e.g., Ordinances and Charter Amendments) because there are so few local newspapers left that municipalities have to go to large newspapers, such as the Washington Post, which cost an arm and a leg.
3. Support for schools regarding pandemic relief.
4. Climate change policies.
5. Vision Zero to reduce the number of pedestrian deaths.
6. Action to address noise from cars with modified mufflers.
Playgrounds and Tennis Courts (Christine Dibble)
Nothing to report.
Roads and Walkways (Gray Yachup)
Our new snowplow driver appears to have dug up many of the traffic calming devices throughout Town. They will be replaced, and the mistake has been addressed with the contractor.
The initial draft of the road condition report has been created and is pending approval after winter damage has occurred.
Working on creating a standardized process for requesting/approving projects like speedbumps, road repairs, or other similar maintenance projects.
Shady Grove Crossing (Barbara Raimondo)
Nothing to report.
Use of Transcripts as Minutes / Accessibility (Barbara Raimondo)
Transcripts – The Zoom auto generated captions are not adequate to serve as a transcript of the meeting. There are too many errors, and it is not possible to tell who is speaking. Links to the captioned recordings should make it explicit that they are not official minutes but are provided only as a convenience. However, all Council, commission, and committee meeting Zoom hosts should turn on the captions, and each individual who wants to see the captions can turn them on on their own computer. If they wish to save the transcript they can. Again, these would not be official transcripts, but if an individual wants to use them for review, they will be able to.
Minutes – Streamlined minutes should be used. Minutes should briefly describe the topic and capture several of the main points raised, the motion as stated, and the votes. Here is a sample: https://jurassicparliament.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Minutes-record-what-is-done.pdf Minutes should reflect what the meeting group as a whole does, and not what individuals say during the meeting. The focus needs to be on what was done.
Accessibility – So far, one person in Town has expressed a preference about this, and that person was satisfied using the auto-captions. If the Town receives a request for another way for meetings to be accessible, the Town will have to consider that request under disability law.
Washington Grove Conservation Park (Upper Field) (Dave Cosson)
See Deer Management discussion in Woods Committee report.
Website and Communications (Christine Dibble)
Nothing to report this month; engaged in basic site maintenance; highlighted events related to the holidays and end of year.