11 June 2018 | Approved: 9 July 2018
Mayor Compton called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Council Members Darrell Anderson, Charlie Challstrom, Rob Gilmore, Marida Hines, and Audrey Maskery. Pat Klein attended via teleconference. Also in attendance were Treasurer Mary Challstrom, Historic Preservation Commission Chair Bob Booher and residents Nan Aitel-Thompson, Georgette Cole, Christine Dibble, Marilynn Frey, John Hutchinson, John McClelland, Joan Mahaffey, Bud O’Connor, Carolyn O’Connor, Jane Seegal, Mimi Styles, Susan Van Nostrand, Mary Warfield, and Missy Yachup. Betsy Klinger arrived at 7:40 p.m.
Ordinance 2018-02; Ordinance To Authorize Sale Of Land Occupied By Main Buildings Initially Constructed In Part On Land Owned By The Town Of Washington Grove.
Mayor Compton called the Public Hearing to order at 7:31 p.m. He read the title of the ordinance, gave a brief summary and asked for comments. Bud O’Connor expressed his appreciation for the Council’s consideration of this ordinance and hopes it will pass. The following items were raised by public testimony:
- Enabling ordinance
- HPC review of this ordinance
- Town attorney’s opinion of this action (sale of public land)
- PC review of this ordinance
- Setting the sale price for the land
- The role of the building permit process
- The role of the 1987 Policy for Sale of Surplus Properties
- Historic character documentation for all properties listed
- Companion ordinances for each property
- Historic character included in companion ordinances (similar to the Exhibit C in the easement documentation)
Mayor Compton thanked all for their input. The public hearing was closed at 8:03 p.m.
REQUEST FOR PUBLIC COMMENT
Resolution 2018-06; Establishing Rules And Regulations For A Town Dog Park.
The public comment period began at 8:05 p.m. Mayor Compton explained the Resolution was introduced in order to obtain public comment from others to refine the document. The Resolution will likely be revised. He asked for comments. Christine Dibble commented for the ad hoc Dog Park Group, which had its first meeting. They submitted written suggestions
for several amendments to the original document. The Group would like to see the rules and regulations stay in the form of a resolution in order to allow for easier changes should that become necessary. There was a comparison of this document to the lake rules. Charlie Challstrom suggested an amended resolution could be written incorporating these and other suggestions received in writing from the Woods Committee. Mayor Compton concluded that the modifications to the resolution will be considered in July. The comment period closed at 8:15 p.m.
TOWN COUNCIL MEETING
Mayor Compton called the regular meeting of the Town Council to order at 8:16 p.m. He thanked Darrell Anderson and the Council for taking care of the quick-start items in May in order to keep business moving forward in his absence.
Approval of the Agenda: Darrell Anderson moved to approve the agenda. Marida Hines seconded the motion. Mayor Compton proposed to remove item #10 and added a number of items to New Business with the caveat that they were there in order to get the Council to begin consideration of the items not make any substantial decisions, and a brief introduction would suffice for today. He thought a two (2) minute introduction for each would be suffice. Concern was expressed about overloading the agenda and the potential for a very lengthy meeting. Darrell Anderson moved to accept as amended. Rob Gilmore seconded the motion. Vote: 5 (Darrell Anderson, Charlie Challstrom, Rob Gilmore, Marida Hines, Audrey Maskery) in favor, 1 (Pat Klein) opposed. Approved as amended.
Christine Dibble asked for Council recognition of the new Dog Park Group and asked if they could get a page on the Town website. She reported she and Mary Warfield were elected Co-Chairs. There was a discussion about what type of recognition she was seeking, the formation of the Emergency Preparedness Committee, where the meetings might be held, and the operation of the dog park by an ad hoc committee in the same way the lake operates. Mayor Compton suggested the Dog Park Group should do research and make recommendations, as done by advisory groups in other municipalities.
John McClelland made two requests;
1.) That the matter of potential conflict of interest and undue influence when a Council member is allowed to chair or co-chair a committee be addressed by the Council. He suggested a Council a member should only be permitted to serve as Council Liaison or a regular committee member. 2.) An update on the installation of the new speed humps on Chestnut Road. Councilor Anderson, responsible for Roads and Walkways, said he would pursue the matter.
Betsy Klinger reported that an ad hoc committee to investigate better communication is being formed. They will do research and convey their findings and recommendations to the Town Council.
Missy Yachup asked if the new Council will be reviewing the Woods Committee’s invasive plant control/removal efforts in the woods. She stated she was not a fan of herbicides and, to her, it makes more sense to deal with the deer problem.
Mimi Bolotin asked about modernizing Town elections starting with the Town Charter. We make it harder to vote than the State of Maryland.
Approval of Minutes: Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the minutes of the Town Council meeting on May 21, 2018 as distributed and with Marida Hines’ change. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Discussion: how to note the names of Council members in the recorded vote. It was decided if the vote was not unanimous, all names (first and last) would be noted. There was a discussion about including “statements for the record” in meeting minutes. Under Council Priorities, a substitute summary was accepted. Darrell Anderson moved to approve the minutes with amendments. Rob Gilmore seconded the motion. Mayor Compton reviewed the amendments as follows:
- Marida Hines’ motion restated to reflect support not formation of the Communications group
- The full names of Councilors and their vote will be written unless the vote is unanimous.
- The substitute language to summarize issues under Council Priorities.
Vote: 6-0. Approved as amended.
Mayor Compton would like the Council to consider ways to better streamline the minutes but still include important content. He will also distribute information concerning streamlining minutes.
Treasurers Report 2017-Maypdf
Darrell Anderson moved to accept the Treasurer’s Report for May 2018. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Discussion: Mayor Compton asked for a status report on the resurfacing of the tennis courts. Audrey stated rain has been a big problem and the plan is to start on June 18, 2018. In the meantime the poles and nets will be put up for play until the resurfacing occurs. Vote: 6-0. Report accepted.
Marida Hines moved to transfer $10K from savings to checking. Darrell Anderson seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0. Motion approved.
Introduction and Approval of Resolution 2018-07; Budget Transfers: Charlie Challstrom moved to introduce Resolution 2018-07. Marida Hines seconded the motion. Discussion: none. Vote: 6-0. Resolution approved.
Charlie Challstrom moved to adopt Resolution 2018-07. Darrell Anderson seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0.
Discussion and Action on Ordinance 2018-02: Charlie Challstrom moved to enact Ordinance 2018-02; Ordinance To Authorize Sale Of Land Occupied By Main Buildings Initially Constructed In Part On Land Owned By The Town Of Washington Grove. Rob Gilmore seconded the motion. Discussion: Charlie Challstrom noted the need to set a sales price and noted that in previous years the price was established by the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation. After extensive discussion of alternatives, Rob Gilmore moved to amend Section 1A setting the sales price at $1.00 per square foot. Charlie Challstrom seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0. Amendment approved.
Pat Klein moved to strike the last sentence on Page 4 because it was removed in a previous version of this document. Charlie Challstrom seconded the motion. Vote: 5 (Darrell Anderson, Charlie Challstrom, Pat Klein, Marida Hines, Audrey Maskery) in favor, 1 (Rob Gilmore) opposed. Amendment approved.
Rob Gilmore moved to amend the main motion with the addition of language to the 3rd sentence in Section E (“by the Town Council”). Darrell Anderson seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0. Amendment approved.
Rob Gilmore moved to amend the main motion with the addition of language to Section F (1), (“but only to the extent that a permit is otherwise required under existing Town ordinances or County or State laws”.) Marida Hines seconded the motion. Discussion included:
- the process as it pertains to obtaining a building permit
- protection of historic character of homes
- benefits to retaining control of land/home
- results of any disagreements
- adding covenants to the accompanying ordinances
Charlie Challstrom called the question. Darrell Anderson seconded. Vote: 5 (Darrell Anderson, Charlie Challstrom, Rob Gilmore, Marida Hines, Audrey Maskery) in favor, 1 (Pat Klein) opposed. Amendment approved.
Charlie Challstrom called the question for the original motion to enact Ordinance 2018-02 as amended. Vote: 6-0. Approved as amended.
Approval of Mayor’s Appointments to Historic Preservation Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals and the Planning Commission: Mayor Compton announced after 10 years of service (2 terms), Steve Werts would be leaving the Planning Commission. He thanked Steve for his service on behalf of his Town. Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the Mayor’s appointment of alternate Planning Commission member Georgette Cole as a full member. Darrell Anderson seconded the motion and added to the motion an expression of appreciation for Steve’s 10 years of service. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion.
Vote: 6-0. Appointment approved.
Darrell Anderson moved to approve the Mayor’s re-appointment of Marc Hansen to the Board of Zoning Appeals. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0. Appointment approved.
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the Mayor’s re-appointment of Bob Booher and David Stopak to the Historic Preservation Commission. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Concern was raised whether there was a perception that the same people do everything, and if the Town was doing enough to advertise these openings. It was noted that when individuals expressed interest in reappointment, they usually were reappointed. When appointees step down new volunteers were likely to be sought. Vote: 6-0.
There will be an announcement in the July Bulletin asking for a volunteers interested in serving as an alternate commissioner on either the Planning or Historic Preservation Commissions.
Darrell Anderson moved to clarify the terms of current HPC members. Rob Gilmore seconded the motion. The following terms for members of the Historic Preservation Commission were proposed for ratification:
- Robert Booher 2018-2021
- David Stopak 2018-2021
- Gail Littlefield 2017-2020
- Wendy Harris 2016-2019
- Mimi Styles 2016-2019
Vote: 6-0. Motion approved.
Council Reports: The Mayor and Town Council discussed the following:
- Whether or not to list who attended meetings; Pat felt it was unnecessary and Rob felt it was interesting to know who attended.
- Council areas of responsibility
- Removal of “Committee” from some groups titles
- Whether or not to keep “Safety” listed as a separate area of responsibility
- Approval by general consensus
Mayor’s Announcements: Mayor Compton announced the appreciation for former Mayor Joli McCathran will take place at the Jazz Brunch on June 17, 2018 at 10:30 AM. A proclamation and gifts will be presented, and representatives from our District 39 state delegation are expected to participate.
New Business: Because of the late hour, all discussion was tabled until the next meeting, and the Mayor asked Councilors to begin thinking about the matters for future discussion.
Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned at 10:47 PM.
TC REPORTS – June 2018
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – Darrell Anderson
Meetings. The regular monthly meeting was held May 15, 2018. The next regular meeting is scheduled for June 19, 2018.
Comments on Proposed Ordinance 2018-02. The HPC circulated their comments on Ordinance 2018-02 for consideration at the June Town Council meeting. A copy is provided to Council members.
Street Sign Rehabilitation Project. Susan Van Nostrand held a gathering to produce more of the signs for this project. Seven new signs were produced, including 5 “mash signs”. The signs were given to Steve for placement. Another gathering will be planned in the near future.
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – Darrell Anderson
Georgette Cole provided me with a tour of the Meadow to discuss new pockets of mile-a-minute (MAM) and other invasive species. I contacted David Quintanilla, Montgomery County Parks’ manager of the Meadow Park. We will be meeting in the Meadow the week of June 11, along with Richard Karman, who is in charge of the mowing schedule, to review whether we can have a small mow for those areas that are newly infected. This includes the inside section of the eastern path, where MAM has evidently jumped the path and is spreading rapidly. We also will be discussing the presence of Japanese knotweed in the Meadow along Ridge Road. It is hoped that we can have those sections only mowed before blooming season in July.
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Darrell Anderson
Nothing to report.
PLANNING COMMISSION – Charlie Challstrom
Building Permits Approved:
- 201 Brown St – addition of a deck in the rear yard
- 125 Chestnut Ave – addition of a bay window on front of home
- 105 Grove Ave – repair/replacement of a section of metal fence between neighbors
Ordinance 2018-02 (Sale of Property): The PC reviewed Ordinance 2018-02 as presented by Town Attorney Suellen Ferguson and introduced by the Town Council. Ordinance 2018-02 is consistent with criteria in the 1987 Policy for Sale of Surplus Properties for a parcel to be considered surplus, i.e., no longer needed for the public use. Ordinance 2018-02 differs from the easement-based process as enacted in Article IV, Section 10, e.g. a description of historic integrity features is not a required element. The PC and HPC will review if a property is “surplus” using the criteria from the 1987 Policy, and ensure information is submitted to document dimensions, materials, and current degree of non-compliance. In Ordinance 2018-02, the PC and HPC recommendations are advisory, and it is the responsibility of the Town Council to make a finding that the Town property is no longer needed for a public use. The PC recommends the Town Council enact Ordinance 2018-02 as presented by the Town Attorney.
Railroad Street Speed Hump Request: Montgomery County has “Speed Humps Regulations” with criteria for consideration of speed humps and a procedure to request the installation of speed humps on eligible County roads. Railroad Street and Washington Grove Lane are the only roads within Washington Grove that are the responsibility of the County. The speed humps on Washington Grove Lane resulted from negotiations in the early 1990’s between the State, the County, Gaithersburg, and Washington Grove to transfer portions of former State Route 124 to local government control. The PC is aware of current community concerns for the speed and increased volume of traffic on Railroad Street, and safety challenges of turning onto Railroad Street from Grove Road and from Chestnut Road. The PC recommends the Mayor initiate a request to County DOT in accordance with the Speed Humps Regulations. A first step is a County traffic study to determine if the roadway segment meets the eligibility criteria; and if eligible, a second step is a public meeting in Town to address residents’ questions and concerns about speed humps, and to explain the process for moving ahead.
Master Plan Update: Georgette Cole has prepared a “2019 Master Plan Call for Recruitment” notice to solicit residents for Ad Hoc Advisory Groups on subject areas covered by our Master Plan. The Historic Preservation Commission and other Town committees are also asked to participate by preparing recommendations to the Planning Commission for updating the current Master Plan. The recruitment notice will provide a list of topics and a proposed schedule for the update process, with targeted completion by the 2019 Annual Town Meeting. Residents interested in serving on an Ad Hoc Advisory Group are invited to contact Georgette.
MCCATHRAN HALL – Charlie Challstrom
Jack Mettee Plumbing & Heating recently installed a new Kohler vacuum assist toilet in the Men’s restroom and replaced the backflow preventer for the fire protection sprinkler system. In preparation for the Maryland Primary Elections, McCathran Hall window locks have been installed, and the track lighting will be adjusted to illuminate the voter check-in tables.
CONTRACTS – Rob Gilmore
Nothing to report.
WOODS – Rob Gilmore
The Woods Committee met on Monday, June 4, 2018, to continue discussions on the following ongoing committee activities. In attendance were co-chairs Pat Klein and Joan Mahaffey, and members Greg Silber, Joli McCathran, Meg O’Connell, Georgette Cole, Deb Mehlferber, Jay Everhart, and Virginia Quesada. Rob Gilmore attended as the Town Council liaison.
Committee members scheduled time to work on recommendations for Master Plan Updates germane to the East and West Woods. East Woods restoration proceeds with continuation of IPC work to control invasive plants. IPC will be working in the East Woods on July 2nd. As a courtesy to the Town Residents to inform them of the IPC scheduled work, the Committee chairs will draft a statement for a Grove Alert to be sent by the Mayor on Friday (6/28). The Committee conducted an assessment of IPC’s wisteria control efforts last year and determined there was at least a 50% reduction in wisteria, therefore, continuation of this work is critical. In addition, the Committee discussed that of the 30 trees that had been planted, only four have survived, underscoring the problems that the woods are facing. The Committee also considered the need to begin invasive plant control in the West Woods.
The Committee returned to discussion of deer management based on the State DNR and Montgomery County options available. Meg O’Connell handed out an outline summarizing a proposed path forward. The proposed plan includes: (1) engaging our community by conducting citizen meetings, (2) amending town ordinances to permit controlled hunting, (3) further developing a forest preservation plan, and (4) working to acquire a deer management permit from the DNR/MC. One important consideration discussed was whether hunting of deer has proven to be effective controlling the deer population; Joli McCathran noted her understanding that it has not proven effective in other municipalities / areas. Deer exclosures also will be revisited to determine how best to protect and restore tree canopy and undergrowth.
There was some initial discussion on Woods Committee ‘norms’, in light of a document that Meg O’Connell handed out. That discussion included: (1) the methods by which the Committee selects it chairs, (2) whether it is appropriate for sitting Town Councilors to serve as chairs, (3) how the Committee can improve its organization and communications (within the Committee itself and externally with the town), and (4) whether the Committee is subject to the Open Meetings Act.
DOG PARK – Rob Gilmore
The Dog Park Committee held its initial meeting on May 31, 2018, at 7:30 pm at Mary Warfield’s house (500 McCauley). In attendance were Mary Warfield, Christine Dibble, Missy Yachup, Alice Negin, Maureen Christin, Kathy Lehman, Karen Kelly, Lisa Kokes, Caryn McLaine, and Rob Gilmore (as Town Council Liaison)
Committee membership and rules: after convening the committee first discussed how it would operate:
- Majority vote
- Must reside in Washington Grove
- No age limit
- No requirement for number of meetings to have attended prior to membership
- Liaisons will not vote
- Voting by proxy as long as written
- Open Meetings Act – do not think it applies but will voluntarily follow some of its prescriptions (e.g. minutes, advance public notice of meetings)
These will be drafted into a brief by-laws document.
Election of Chairs: the committee nominated and unanimously voted Christine and Mary as co-chairs.
Discussion of Proposed Dog Park Ordinance: the committee then reviewed and discussed the proposed ordinance, and made the following comments on the specific provisions in the proposal, for the Council’s consideration:
- Delete 5
- Consider modifying 4: there was discussion about whether guests or family members of town residents could bring their dogs even if not Montgomery County-licensed. The Council will need to assess whether that is something that can be permitted. There were also discussions of whether other immunizations should be required but ultimately no recommendation to modify this provision (as drafted, it requires rabies vaccination)
- Delete 2d sentence of 12
Combine 14 with 1 but keep express language in 1
Consultation with Woods Committee: the committee discussed the letter that the Woods Committee had submitted to the Town Council prior to the April 9 meeting. The sense of the committee was that it was advisable for the committee to consult with the Woods Committee during the initial construction of the dog park, while maintaining its autonomy over the dog park.
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – Rob Gilmore
Nothing to report.
WEBSITE – Marida Hines
Nothing to report.
RECREATION – Marida Hines
Meetings. The Committee held a quarterly meeting on May 23, 2018.
The upcoming July 4th picnic, Music Weekend, and Bluestoberfest events are all on track. The first two have been announced to the town via official channels. October 13, 2018 has been set as the date for Bluestoberfest.
The Recreation Committee is sponsoring a new ongoing recreational event, square dancing. These will be held in McCathran Hall the first and third Mondays, starting June 4, from 7:30 to 9 pm at a cost of $5.
2018 Summer in the Parks has approximately 25 enrollees. Four staff members have been hired, and 10 fulltime volunteers have been secured. The camp will be directed by Emily Cavey and Jenn Hix.
COMMUNICATIONS WORK GROUP – Marida Hines
This group is forming as an ad-hoc working group to improve official communications in town. Preliminary discussions have been held and next steps are being drawn up.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS COMMITTEE – Pat Klein
The EPC met on May 24, 2018 to continue moving forward on the following activities in support of town safety and emergency preparedness. The committee noted the well-deserved recognition of the wooden street name signs restoration with the Historic Preservation Award by the HPC and Susan Van Nostrand as “Volunteer of the Year” by Mayor McCathran.
The status of the McCathran Hall Generator Request for Proposals (RFP) was discussed, noting that Mayor McCathran confirmed the RFP document and a bidders list was sent to the Town Clerk last month. The EPC liaison would follow up with the Town Clerk to confirm the RFP had been distributed to the bidder list and determine if any responses had been received.
The Town received permission from WSSC to mark our fire hydrants with reflective tape and they provided two samples of “DOT C2” reflective tape. The smooth bonnet of one hydrant on McCauley Street was marked with the 2-inch wide tape sample from WSSC and was noted to have excellent night-time visibility. The EPC will purchase more of the “DOT C2” tape, 2inch wide for smooth bonnets, and a thinner format of “DOT C2” tape for rims of hydrants with ribbed bonnets.
The EPC continues to recommend installation of a streetlight on Railroad Street to safely illuminate the painted crosswalk between the Ride-On bus stops/MARC station. Railroad Street is the responsibility of Montgomery County. The EPC recommends that a streetlight request made to MC-DOT with a safety rationale and lighting characteristics specifying a streetlight compatible with the Town and non-intrusive to residential areas, even in leaf-off seasons.
The Town continues to participate in the County’s update of its Hazard Mitigation Plan with an expectation the Town Council will adopt the updated County plan in order to remain eligible for FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grants. The proposed hazard mitigation actions include: restore and upgrade storm water drainage under Railroad Street, emergency generator for a critical facility (McCathran Hall), preventative trimming near/beneath power lines, public outreach for use of the Alert Montgomery System, and County fire suppression capability for East Woods and West Woods.
The EPC noted that ongoing episodes of wet weather predispose to a robust mosquito population and prepared notices for the Town Bulletin to promote individual efforts to reduce standing water on private properties and preventive measures such as use of insect repellant. A link to CDC public health advisory was included.
The next EPC meeting is Thursday, June 28, 2018
MAPLE LAKE – Pat Klein
The Committee met on May 10th to finalize preparations for seasonal re-opening Maple Lake. The following activities are being completed:
Town maintenance repaired the bubbler and will install barbed-wired arms on the newly repaired fence section along Newport Estates. A commercial fence company was hired to repair the fence section around the outflow area. A new ladder with handrails was installed along the dock. The diving board will be placed on June 15th.
There will be 10 Life Guards working at the Lake this summer. A Life Guard Meeting is scheduled on June 1 to review responsibilities and assign remaining day assignments in the season. Swim lessons again will be provided by Lainey from July 5 – 28.
Lake Permits will be issued on Election Day (May 12th) and volunteers solicited to open/close daily the Lake Gate. Mayor McCathran and the Lake committee chairs met with MCPD Commander Patil and officers to arrange for random patrols 2-3 times per week at no cost to the Town.
The next Lake Committee meeting is Thursday, June 21, 2018.
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION – Audrey Maskery
Dead trees have been removed Dorsey Street; Grove Road/McCauley. Sadly two trees lost to the recent storm, both on private property; debris removed from Town property by contractor; wood left for town residences.
MAINTENANCE – Audrey Maskery
Weed cloth installed; wood chips spread completing the current updating of the children’s playground.
Mulch placed around trees in Morgan Park and other areas where trees require extra cover to conserve water. Picnic table from Park repaired and returned to position.
Grounds around Woman’s Club trimmed in preparation for the Flower Show.
Ditches cleared of leaves and debris to enable surface water flow.
Lake area grass cut and area cleared of debris; security cameras adjusted and placed in preparation for the Memorial Day opening.
MEMORIALS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report
PLAYGROUNDS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report.
INTERGOVERNMENTAL – John Compton & Joli McCathran
Nothing to report.