11 July 2016 | Approved: 8 August 2016
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 Senator Nancy King, Delegate Charles Barkley, Delegate Kirill Reznik, Delegate Robinson and residents Liz Everhart, Jim Everhart, Mark Fredericksen, Meredith Horan, Betsy Klinger, Ed Roberts, and Kitty Seiferlein.
Report from State Delegates:
Mayor McCathran thanked the Delegation for coming and for helping so much with the Maple Lake Bill HB-1101: Closed Swimming Lake. Each member of the Delegation spoke about accomplishments and failures during the past session as well as issues going forward. They specifically mentioned the following:
- Services and program cut-backs
- Fully funding education
- The Watkins Mill 270 interchange project
- A new system for ranking transportation projects
- Noah’s Law
- Alex & Calvin’s Law
- Equal pay for equal work
- Small business retirement savings program requirement
- Maryland Clean Energy Loan Program
- Northrup Grumann $37 million tax cut
Approval of Agenda:
Georgette Cole moved to approve the agenda. Shelley Winkler seconded the motion. Because Treasurer Mary Challstrom was on vacation, Mayor McCathran removed the Treasurer’s Report from the agenda. Vote: 6-0, as amended.
John McClelland brought up the need for limiting the time for each public appearance at Town Meetings, Town Council, Planning Commission and Historic Preservation Committee meetings to allow time for all appearances and to permit the meeting to proceed. He asked about whether the Council can initiate a procedure. Mayor McCathran offered to ask the Town attorney about this process.
Ed Roberts stated he had two (2) items to address.
- 1. He asked for a status of the Town’s efforts to provide listening devices for the hearing impaired in McCathran Hall and of the reconfiguration of the seating in the Council Room. John McClelland explained Bud O’Connor had done considerable work on these items but was no longer on the Council. John offered to call Bud.
- 2. Ed reported he had a load of bluestone dust delivered recently but because the truck couldn’t get past a large bush on the walkway, he had it dumped on Town land in front of his home. Now he has to have it moved twice due to lack of access. He referenced a letter written by the Mayor regarding asking residents bordering 2nd Avenue to remove all personal items from the area. He stated he has complied yet other residents have not. He called for fair treatment and wants residents on the other side of 2nd Avenue to remove their encroachments as well. John McClelland explained he thought Ed may have misunderstood the letter. The letter sent to residents was referring to encroachments (fences, ponds, steps, sheds) on the alley in Block 11 not 2nd Avenue. Ed disagreed. John offered to look at the letter with Ed and assured him after construction of 203 2nd Avenue was complete, the boundary of 2nd Avenue would be re-examined for possible encroachment issues. The discussion is referring to the Town’s recent survey of Block 11.
Approval of Minutes:
Shelley Winkler moved to approve the minutes of the Town Council meeting on June 13, 2016. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. After discussion of a few minor corrections and clarifications, the minutes, as corrected, were approved. Greg Silber asked for clarification of the description of Peter Nagrod’s public appearance. The Council provided some clarity and made a small change.
Vote: 6-0, as amended.
Emergency Preparedness Task Force Report:
Mayor McCathran gave Chair Mark Fredericksen and the task force high praise and thanked them for the great work on this report. Mark reported the task force approved the final report at their meeting on June 30, 2016. The Task Force’s recommendations are included in their report delivered to Council at this meeting. Mark noted the Town Council now needs to decide whether it would like the work presented to continue, and if so, how to best organize that going forward. The group made the following recommendations:
- Town Council now decides how to continue this work
- A standing committee to meet once a month to shepherd the implementation of the recommendations made in the report (“The seven (7) biggies”)
- Removing the “task force” title
- Include an Emergency Preparedness Tab in all Council Handbooks
- Re-vitalizing the Neighborhood Watch program and pulling them into the process
- Offering CERT, Red Cross and other training to committee members
- The importance of structure, chain of command and continuity of operations
The next step starts with a review of the report by the Town Council. The Clerk will distribute the report to the Town Council members.
Greg Silber moved to approve the Council Reports and for posting on the web. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. A few word corrections were made and John McClelland asked about whether there had been a change in what the Vacant Properties Task Force was addressing. The Mayor and Council discussed what appeared to be a change in the original charge to the Vacant Properties Task Force referenced in Georgette Cole’s report. The Mayor will ask the task force to give an update at the August meeting of the Town Council.
Pat Klein reported on the status of the West Woods Boundary Project. Greg reported the contactor has nearly completed the survey work and plans to install boundary markers in the coming weeks. Council members and Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts were invited to attend.
The Mayor and Council also discussed the following:
- The Committee working on a proposed dog park
- House Files Project – changed the name from House Files to Washington Grove House Records
- Purchasing defibrillators: Pat Klein asked whether the research on the defibrillators is complete. The details, including how to keep them operating, and how to train residents to use them, had been investigated and made part of the plan for having them purchased and installed.
- Dead Zone Cell Towers: These towers are 20’ tall. The Planning Commission will review ordinances for the applicable ordinances and compliance. Mayor McCathran has made this request to the Planning Commission at their July 1, 2016 meeting.
- Town Website: Greg Silber asked about the status of the Town website. Shelley Winkler explained she is currently learning about what had been done and setting up meetings with those involved to understand more about the new website. She believes she has found a volunteer who is an expert in website management. The goal is to have a website and a system to keep it current. She also noted much material still needs to be brought to the new website, and Bill Saar has been able to add some links to the old website as a stopgap measure, to allow access to minutes of older Town Council and Planning Commission meetings.
Greg Silber moved to accept the amendments to the Council Reports. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0.
Mayor McCathran distributed brochures and information obtained from the recent Maryland Municipal League Convention which she recently attended.
Mayor McCathran reported she wrote a letter of appreciation for City of Gaithersburg Aquatic Specialist Nate Simpson’s invaluable help with the Lake Bill. Gaithersburg has posted it on their “Brag Board.”
Mayor McCathran reported having spoken with the MARC Train representative Eric Cooley concerning the recent accident at the at-grade crossing. He stated he knows of no plans to change the MARC train service/stops for the next five (5) years.
Mayor McCathran reported a conversation with Gaithersburg planners which revealed they had no knowledge that the location for the proposed County Shared Use Path included using a privately owned road (Brown Street) in the Town of Washington Grove. This revelation prompted Mayor McCathran to write a letter to Montgomery County planners to be sure they understood the situation. There was a discussion about the current condition of Oakmont Avenue and lack of safe access there for pedestrians, bicyclists, or persons with disabilities.
The Town Clerk distributed a diagram sent to the Town concerning some development along Central Avenue, Gaithersburg.
The Clerk discussed the importance of direct and sincere communication.
There being no further new business, the meeting adjourned at 9:37 p.m.
Pat Klein moved, Audrey Maskery 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 9:40 p.m.
TC REPORTS – August 2016
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – Georgette Cole
Review Session: Robert Johnson was present to discuss plans for alterations to his home located at 400 Center Street. His architect was also available to address any questions and concerns. Plans, including drawings and photographs, of the existing structure were prepared, along with a new design development plan for alterations to the front/street/side and corner perspectives. The house is a non-contributing structure, which is visible from three public ways – Maple Avenue, Center Street and Maple Road. Approximately 900 feet of living space will be added to the existing house, which will include a second story master bedroom suite above the kitchen. The plans also include a screened-in porch (facing Maple Avenue), along with open front porches facing Center Street. The drawings were very detailed and thorough, complete with a site plan. The HPC agreed that the changes will greatly enhance the current structure and they had only a few suggestions, which the architect will take into consideration. A written review will be prepared and submitted to the Planning Commission accordingly.
Records Management Update: Gail emailed an update on group comments regarding the discussion of proper categorization of the Camp Meeting Association records. The HPC has urged the Town Records Management Staff and State Archives to accept these items as part of the official Town records. It was decided to postpone further discussion on this topic until all Commission members are present. The item will be added to next month’s agenda.
Design Guidelines: Bob distributed additional material from other historical communities on their construction and preservation rules for the Commission to review. These resources will be helpful in updating our criteria for the Town of Washington Grove.
PLAYGROUNDS – Georgette Cole
Steve Werts has removed several old pieces of playground equipment and reduced the size of one play enclosure which was in a very wet area. He plans to add additional drainage to several areas. At the end of July our equipment order went in to Kompan. We will be getting two (2) Seesaws for 4, two (2) Spica 1 In-Ground, two (2) Spinner Bowl Blue In-Ground, and one (1) Supernova Blue. The order total after the discount Jenn Hix negotiated was just over $16,000 and with freight added our grand total was $16,771. Details on the pieces are in the Playground Report the Council received 12 October 2015.
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – Georgette Cole
I toured the Meadow Park on July 30 and made notes on where Mile-a-minute is recurring. I am working on a letter to the MC Park Manager, David Quintanilla, and the MC Forest Ecologist, Carole Bergmann, regarding the next step in this ongoing treatment program.
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – Georgette Cole
Nothing to report
MAPLE LAKE – Patrice Klein
Geese and bees are gone.
Ed Mroczka & Hutch planted a corkscrew willow behind Nicho’s bench, and may plant another on the far side of the lake. The Committee is considering additional tree planting at the lake.
Nicho’s Memorial Bench: Dedication on August 13th.
Swim Lessons: completed 7/5 – 7/29; Lainey Selby did a great job! There will be no life guard coverage Monday, August 29 – Friday, September 2 so it will be “Swim at your Own Risk” during that week. Steve will take the diving board down on Aug. 29th because there will be no Life Guard coverage that week. There will be life guards for Labor Day Weekend (Sept. 3-5).
Maintenance Items: NatureWorksCWA treating for Algae & Pond weed every 3 weeks – next visit around August 16th. There is monthly water testing for E.coli & Coliforms on the last Monday of each month starting May 23rd. Results of the first few tests were good.
Security Items: Gate combo changed on July 20th. There has been evidence of some parties at the lake after hours and we may have to change the combination again.
Some website updates on Lake Info are needed (several have been submitted)
SAFETY/EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS– Patrice Klein
Town Council decision pending on establishing Committee and moving forward with Task Force recommendations.
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION – Audrey Maskery
Asplundh has finally finished clearing the PEPCO lines in second phase of work performed every three/four years.
Maintenance is currently watering forty trees and shrubs. The list includes trees planted earlier in this year, plus trees and shrubs planted within the last three years. Some of these new trees are part of the Nicho’s Trees project in the East Woods. The watering plan follows recommendations provided by nurseries supplying our trees and shrubs.
Forestry and Beautification will be meeting Thursday August 25th. Possible new planting sites will be under discussion. F&B welcomes anyone who wishes to join us in the Council Room at 7:30pm.
MAINTENANCE – Audrey Maskery
The work on playground equipment started with the removal of old equipment and repositioning of surrounding landscape timbers in preparation for the arrival of new playground equipment.
New electric line from Town maintenance shop to the Gazebo laid in protective pipe; plus, new outdoor electrical panel for the Gazebo.
Completion of the new brick sidewalk in Block 11.
Old timbers and arborvitae hedge removed from Railroad Park. The ground was cleared and leveled to provide a cleaner look to the park and entrance to the Town. New grass will be filled in when the weather is suitable in the fall.
Continuing cutting of grass and watering of trees for Forestry & Beautification and Woods Committee.
MEMORIALS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report.
PLANNING COMMISSION – John McClelland
- 407 Acorn Ln – Fence – Approved
- 400 Center St – Addition – Plans submitted and HPC reviewed. PC will review in September
- 203 2nd Ave – Recent rains have deposited dirt, sand, etc., on nearby properties (private and public) which is thought to be caused by the lack of a silt fence. Steve Werts volunteered to speak with the contractor and address the issue.
109 Wash Grove Ln – Pastor Aaron Pollard presented the possibility of moving his Highway Christian Church to Washington Grove. The church’s congregation was estimated at 10 adults and 15 children with service/bible study etc., on Sunday 10 AM – 3 PM, Monday 5-7 PM and Wednesday 7 – 9 PM. Current ordinance does not permit a “church” operation in the commercial zone nor does it allow for a special exception to be heard on the case. The PC will work on an ordinance revision to permit a special exception hearing to be possible if needed.
Easements: Residents at 409 5th Ave. previously submitted an easement request then withdrew it. Now the title insurance company has expressed concern and wants to reopen the easement process on this property. The PC will again revisit this property easement once an intent to do so is received from the property owners.
Block 11: The brick public walkway located in the “rear” of the five properties to provide access to all has been completed. A letter from the mayor and PC chairman will be sent to any property owner who continues to encroach on Town property.
Block Corner Survey: A draft RFP for surveying the East woods was presented (thanks to Charlie Challstrom). The purpose of which is to “de-plat” the area and establish the Town’s southern boundaries. Similar orange posts/markers to those placed along the west woods will be used – except the property lines located behind WG residents on Center St (which would require a modification to the RFP). The PC endorsed this RFP and forwarded it to the TC.
17050 Railroad St (Cator Property) – Subdivision:
A preliminary subdivision plat was approved by the PC with final approval contingent upon receipt of a forest conservation plan and final subdivision plat – which remain outstanding, however, reports of intent to sell individual lots were discovered. Note: Marketing individual lots before the final subdivision plans are approved or recorded among the land records would be a violation of Town ordinance (Article XI Section 1. Charlie Challstrom contacted Shirl Harrison and Dave McKee (her planner) regarding the property’s subdivision plat status. Shirl stated she did not know the plat was not finalized and notified the realtor (Kathi Kershaw) of the current status. Dave stated that his surveyor will provide the final plat portion ASAP. Charlie also provided a 2002 letter from Bill Roberts (then Town attorney) on this very subject. An official letter from the mayor will be sent to all parties involved.
House Records: This fantastic project continues with 66+ properties completed thus far.
Master Policy and Public Land Use: The PC concluded that the Town’s master plan does allow use of public land for a potential dog park. The proponents of the dog park idea will present it to the TC. It was suggested that the existing Woodward Park resolution be used as a template to organize thoughts and address related issues.
MCCATHRAN HALL – John McClelland
Summer in the Parks has come to a close with no reports of hall damage.
Pursuit of defibrillators continues.
WOODS GROUP – Greg Silber
Work to survey and mark the westernmost boundary of the West Woods has been completed. In coordination with the Planning Commission, the Woods Group is also discussing a similar contract to survey and mark the eastern boundary of the East Woods and associated areas.
The Group is working to develop a multi-year schedule and secure a contract for the large-scale removal and control of invasive plant species in both West and East Woods. The Group continues to help oversee planting of trees in various locations including in areas near the lake and where invasive plants have been removed in the East Woods. Tree planting will continue with an emphasis on fall and winter planting.
The Group voted to change its name to the “Woods Committee”. Due to the Labor Day Holiday, the Group’s next meeting will be Monday August 29th, 7:30.
CONTRACTS – Greg Silber
Mayor McCathran and Contract Liaison Silber met with a representative from Potomac Disposal to address concerns expressed recently by residents about the mixing of recyclables with the trash. We will be preparing a note for the next Bulletin explaining the regulations and business practices about this and a few additional updates for residents.
RECREATION – Shelley Winkler
Summer in the Parks finished a very successful season, thanks to the dedicated work of organizing volunteers Emily Brown, Alison Faupel and Joey Fones, and this year’s staff, skillfully directed by Grayson Yachup. The parent volunteers mentioned that enrollment nearly doubled to 42 campers this year, and that the staff’s ingenuity in planning games and activities kept the camp within budget. The SITP volunteers hope to make a presentation or report to the Council with more details.
The Briggs Family, in coordination with the Recreation Committee, will be holding a Potluck Gathering at McCathran Hall on Saturday, August 27, at 1:00 pm, in honor of Elly Briggs, our former Mayor, who died on July 1.
Craig English is once again volunteering to organize the Labor Day athletic events, to be held September 3, 4 and 5. Peter Nagrod has volunteered to add a new soccer skills competition. The details are in the Town Bulletin.
The Adult Exercise Class will return this fall.
Bluestoberfest is planned for Saturday, October 15, and the Halloween pumpkin carving is scheduled for Sunday, October 30.
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Shelley Winkler
Steve is in the process of determining the scope and content of roadwork which will need to be done this year.
WEBSITE – Shelley Winkler
Christine Dibble has volunteered to work with the new website to make it a bit more streamlined and user friendly. Christine is currently a Senior Web Content Strategist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where she manages numerous websites. We are grateful for her willingness to take this on. Mimi Bolotin, a retired librarian and former web editor, has also volunteered to help keep content updated on the website, and we are so grateful for her support as well.
Christine and I just met with Marida Hines, who volunteered her time to give us some information about the current website and the background of its development. From that meeting, we realize that we will also need a volunteer with website development experience who is familiar with Word Press and can safely back up the website and update plug-ins on a regular basis. Marida kindly offered to do this once for the town soon, as it had not been done since January, but it is a time consuming process and we will need a regular volunteer.
Once the appropriate volunteers are in place, changes will be occurring in small increments, over time. We want to make the site as user friendly as possible, keep the information current, and bring older material onto the website. We do not yet know whether we will need to pay someone to import the older material — we need to get the other matters in place first.
INTERGOVERNMENTAL – Joli A. McCathran
It is an honor to be offered, and I accepted, a position on the Maryland Municipal League’s Legislative Committee for the 2017 General Assembly Legislative Session.
Dan Prats, Mayor of Laytonsville is moving to Connecticut and leaving his post as mayor. I attended the Laytonsville’s Town’s Farewell Open House in his honor. All wished Dan well and we have no doubt he will become active in his new town. I accepted a position as member of the Maryland Municipal League’s Montgomery County Chapter Executive Board.