10 June 2019 | Approved: 8 July 2019
Mayor Compton called the regular meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Councilors Darrell Anderson, Charlie Challstrom, Marida Hines, Patty Klein, and Audrey Maskery. Also present were Treasurer Mary Challstrom, HPC Chairman Bob Booher, Planning Commissioner Georgette Cole and residents Luther Jett, Robert Johnson, Joan Mahaffey, Bud O’Connor, Paula Puglisi, Chris Range, and Kitty Seiferlein.
Approval of Agenda:
Patty Klein moved to approve the agenda. Darrell Anderson seconded the motion. The Mayor and Council added the Council Reports to the agenda, moved #11 (Discussion of the Term “Sessions” for Managed Deer Hunts) to #7, and added a website usability study and a WSSC sewer project to New Business. Vote: 6-0, approved, as amended.
Paula Puglisi (406 Grove Ave.) read her own statement and those of several others concerning speed humps in Town. She does not object to the use of speed humps but does object to the severely angled bumps specifically the Chestnut Road and Grove Road bumps. She read statements from Maggie Range, Ann Briggs, Barbara Raimondo, Nan Aitel-Thompson, and Carol Samour. In order to allow others to comment, she submitted to the record statements from Warren Winter, Lisa Kokes, and Rebecca Richters.
Luther Jett (209 Maple Ave.) read his statement concerning speed humps in Town. He is in favor of some sort of traffic control but objects to the height of the new temporary speed bumps on Grove, Chestnut, and Ridge roads. He believes the temporary humps should be replaced by lower, more rounded humps which would promote safety and be in compliance with County and State recommendations.
Kitty Seiferlein (416 Center St.) read her own statement concerning speed humps in Town. She supports the efforts to calm traffic but would like to see the third hump on Ridge Road replaced by a smoother hump like the other two (2) on Ridge. She also recommended the severe humps on Chestnut and on Grove, which could be damaging cars, be replaced with less severe humps.
Chris Range (#8 The Circle) objects to the severe bumps, specifically because they are not visible at night even when wearing a headlight. He stated whatever the design, please make them brighter. He also had an objection to the temporary humps on Chestnut Road because you have to drive in on-coming traffic in order to avoid the humps. This causes him not to stop at the stop signs.
The Clerk distributed an e-mail from Rico Sturniolo concerning speed humps in Town.
Bob Booher asked for the Town to establish a standard size for gravel on our walkways. It should be used by our contractors, Town Maintenance and by residents. The size should be clear to all. Mayor Compton suggested a Town Bulletin announcement.
Approval of Minutes:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the May 20, 2019 Town Council Meeting minutes. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. An administrative correction was made. Vote: 5-0, approved as amended.
Treasurers Report 2019-May pdf
Darrell Anderson moved acceptance of the Treasurer’s Report for May 2019. Marida Hines seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, accepted as presented.
Resolution 2019-09; Budget Transfers FY2019:
Charlie Challstrom moved adoption of Resolution 2019-09 as revised by Treasurer Mary Challstrom. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, adopted as amended. Mary explained OBA Bank was bought out by 1st National and the Town has now switched to Old Line Bank.
Discussion of the Term “Sessions” for Managed Deer Hunt:
Patty Klein expressed the opinion that the Montgomery County Department of Parks archery hunting season (1st Friday after Labor Day through January 31st.) should define the Town’s hunting session. There was a discussion about the following:
Potential problems with intermittent sessions in a season
- Specified time periods in the governing Resolution
- Giving hunters the latitude to choose days they will hunt
- Town Council agreement about the term “sessions”
- Residents opinions about hunting for five (5) months (September – January 31st)
- Informational meetings for residents
- Volunteer hunter’s schedules
- Number of hunters at a session
- Size of the heard
- Monitoring and reporting progress during a session
Sale of Land Occupied by a Main Building at 315 Grove Avenue and 409 5th Avenue Initially Constructed in Part on Land Owned by the Town of Washington Grove – Discussion:
Mayor Compton summarized the process so far. There was a discussion about the following:
- Reversion – by law or by equity
- Town recourse if a violation occurs
- Number of days allowed for correction of a violation (change to 60 days)
- Town intent
- Putting a lien on the property as a last resort (after negotiations)
- Remove reversion language
The document will be amended with three (3) changes (remove reversion language, add Town attornery’s comments, and change 30 to 60 days) and the public hearing and possible passage will take place in August.
Ordinance 2019-10; Adopting An Amendment To The Washington Grove Zoning Ordinance To Modify The Definition Of Dormer And To Modify The Minimum Lot Line Standards For The RR-3 Zone – Discussion & possible introduction:
Charlie Challstrom gave a summary of the Zoning Text Amendment. It proposes to strike the current definition of a dormer and to change the lot size in the RR-3 zone to allow for a subdivision that keeps the historic home, allows for one (1) new house and makes it impossible to create a 3rd lot. The council reviewed documentation (including maps) presented by Charlie Challstrom. There was a discussion about the following:
- Procedural problems
- Allowing time for HPC review/comments
- Introduction in July instead of June
- Reasons for filling by the PC and not the property owner
- Unique nature of this property and RR-3 zone
It was decided to push acceptance of the ZTA to July and set a public hearing date for August.
Consideration of Planning Commission Alternate:
Mayor Compton brought forth the appointment of Robert Johnson as the Alternate on the Planning Commission. Patty Klein moved to approve the Mayor’s appointment of Robert Johnson as the Alternate on the Planning Commission. Marida Hines seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, approved.
Continued discussion about placement, signs, and efficacy: Mayor Compton began the discussion with a pre-emptive statement concluding that the geometry of the new humps is causing no end to the controversy. If you traverse the hump slowly (less than 15 mph.) it is not likely to cause any damage to a vehicle. There was a discussion about the following:
- Whether or not the newer humps were in violation of State law
- Doing an engineering study to be sure humps and signs are legal
- Better warning signs (change to 5 mph)
- Are humps producing desired effect?
- Problems with the Grove Road hump in terms of wheelchairs, bikes and skaters (Mayor will ask Steve Werts to remove a segment)
- Stopping at every place where a street crosses a walkway
The Mayor and Council agreed to improve the Grove Road hump and continue the test with the temporary humps.
Gaithersburg Depot Salt Barn
Update: Mayor Compton reported he wrote a letter to the County expressing Town concerns about this project and he testified at the Planning Board hearing as well. He stressed the need for the Department of Transportation to make good on noise and air quality improvements, take into consideration the visual pollution for residents on Brown Street and the Cator property (17050 Railroad Street), and to assist in the formation of a Monitoring Committee (Town & County) to head-off any problems that may arise. John also reported the Town’s concerns were added to the Planning Board Staff Report.
Town Council Reports:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the Council Reports for posting on the website. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 4-0, (Patty Klein left at 9:42 p.m.)
Mayor Compton reported the following:
- Because of the campaign to eliminate meandering boundaries, Washington Grove is no longer in the 6th district. We will get the delegates to speak in the fall.
- Montgomery County has relaxed the requirements for accessory dwellings. Although it is not applicable to us, we should pay attention to this item. This could have dramatic consequences on neighborhoods.
Priorities for the Coming Year:
The Mayor and Council will share their ideas via e-mail and discuss them in July.
Marida Hines reported usability testing for the Town website will take place in the near future. She passed out a list of goals and asked for additional input. Marida will put a request for volunteers in the July Town Bulletin.
The Town Clerk reported receiving a phone call from WSSC requesting the renewal of a Public Ways & Property Permit which expired one (1) year ago. It appears this sewer pipe work might tear up the newly paved portion of Ridge Road. The Clerk will set up a meeting with WSSC and the Mayor and Council at the end of July. Others from the PC and HPC will be asked to attend as well.
Adjournment: There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 10:30 p.m.
Kathryn L. Lehman
TC REPORTS – June 2019
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – Darrell Anderson
Meetings: The regular monthly meeting was held on May 21, 2019. The next regularly-scheduled meeting will be held June 18, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
A discussion review of 412 4th Avenue was held with the resident. He was asked to provide documents for the HPC to review.
An update on progress for the submission by Bud O’Connor (409 5th Avenue) to purchase Town property was culminated with approval for the checklist to be included in the transfer.
A discussion of a possible height and length of a dormer at 211 Maple Avenue (Yachup) was held. Before the next meeting, a review of ordinances on dormers will take place.
Updating and Expanding the 1980 National Register of Historic Places Historic District Nomination
The HPC still has time to review the draft NR Nomination from Robinson & Associates. It has been posted on the Town website for those interested in seeing the draft report.
Master Plan 2019
The HPC will begin looking at Section 8 (Commercial Corner) and Section 9 (Development and Preservation) in the next month because these are two sections that are critical for the HPC. Work on the drafts will be divided among members.
Annual Report on Archives
Pat Patula, Town Archivist, reported that a tour of Washington Grove with interns from the Maryland State Archives is being planned in the next month. In addition, 11 boxes of Camp Meeting Documents from the Town have been collected for transfer to the Special Collections of the State Archives.
STREET SIGN RESTORATION PROJECT – Darrell Anderson
Susan Van Nostrand reports that only a few more signs are needed for completion to finish this project. The project also may be the focus of film being planned through Montgomery Municipal Cable. Plans are being worked on at this time.
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Darrell Anderson
The first phase of our 3-year repaving initiative is complete. It is anticipated that the second phase will be planned for completion by the fall. Contact will be made with the two firms to determine their availability to complete this work. The Council will need to approve the second phase.
Speed Hump Trial:
Comments continue to be collected on the Grove Road speed hump.
The Lighting Committee met on May 22, 2019; the next meeting is scheduled for June 26, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. They reported on the field trip to Takoma Park and Somerset to view LED lights installed in those locations. Overall, the members felt that the lighting was too bright for our needs.
In a discussion of our poles and fixtures, it was reported that PEPCO owns most of our light poles, arms, and fixtures. It may be worthwhile to consider purchasing, installing, and maintaining our own light fixtures. The PEPCO maintenance costs are considerable. Another point is that since moving from incandescent bulbs to induction bulbs in 2011, we have reduced our lighting costs from approximately $20,000 to $10,000. If we move to LED bulbs we will have some savings, but probably not enough to qualify for grants based on energy savings.
Regarding light fixtures, our current brand (PEMCO) no longer produces our type, but they do have some “historic” types that the committee will review. In addition, a member will begin searching the Internet to see if it is possible to purchase used fixtures that we currently have.
Other items of discussion included:
- Trying to determine a baseline level for the amount of light we currently have.
- Setting up a test whereby different intensities of LED lights will be places along a road so residents can view them and make comments. This will be planned at the June meeting. One issue is that LED bulbs may not perform well in the winter; this will need to be observed at least through the coming winter.
- Considering a consultant with designing the next generation lighting systems and dealing with PEPCO and other regulatory commissions.
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – Darrell Anderson
Herbicide treatment will take place on Wednesday, June 13, 2019.
PLANNING COMMISSION – Charlie Challstrom
Zoning Text Amendment: The Planning Commission has filed and accepted an application for a Zoning Text Amendment to delete the dormer definition and to modify minimum lot size standards for the RR-3 Zone. The PC concludes that deleting the definition of “Dormer” with its width specification will facilitate consistency with prior building permit approvals, and flexibility with future construction and renovation projects. The PC concludes that modifying RR-3 Zone standards for minimum lot size area to 13,800 sq.ft. and width at building line to 75 feet will support a subdivision for the only property within the RR-3 Zone and retention of the existing home. This minimum lot size area was selected to support and limit subdivision of the property to two buildable lots, thus sustaining the spacing characteristic of that area of Town. This action is consistent with the Master Plan recommendation to promote new and renewed development in physical scale with surroundings and neighbors. These RR-3 standards would allow a straight dividing line between the two lots, parallel to and at least 75 feet 6.3 inches from the western property boundary line along the graveled public right of way. The next step for this proposed Zoning Text Amendment is Town Council introduction of Ordinance No. 2019-10 and setting a date for the public hearing.
Porch Steps Reconstruction Approved: The PC approved plans to relocate and reconstruct the steps as part of Eva Polston’s front porch at 203 Second Avenue.
Fence Location Approved: The PC approved a minor change in the fence location for a portion of the replacement fence in Ed and Judy Mroczka’s yard at 107 Grove Avenue.
Master Plan Update: On Wednesday, July 17, the PC will host the next master plan work session at 7:30 pm in the Council Room. The PC continues reviewing/revising the 2019 Master Plan Working Draft in work sessions coordinated by Georgette Cole. A copy of the latest 2019 Master Plan Working Draft and the draft minutes from each work session are available on the Town website.
Sale of Town Land to Bud and Carolyn O’Connor: The PC has examined the request from Bud and Carolyn O’Connor to purchase the portion of Town land under their front porch, and has determined:
- this sale of Town-owned land will not create an additional building lot;
- public ownership of this portion of land does not serve any present or foreseeable public use or function; and
- there is sufficient information conveyed with the request to purchase and available in Town files for that portion of the main building now on Town-owned land to document its dimensions and materials, and the current degree of non-compliance as may be required for a future building permit application for this portion of the building.
The Planning Commission recommends the Town Council introduce an ordinance authorizing conveyance of the Town-owned land as requested by Bud and Carolyn O’Connor, conduct a public hearing, and then enact the ordinance.
PC Meeting Date Change: The date for the next PC meeting has been changed to Wednesday, July 10, 2019.
MCCATHRAN HALL – Charlie Challstrom
McCathran Hall Cleaning: Mayor John Compton has approved a 3-month continuation of our arrangement with SEEC for once-a-week cleaning of McCathran Hall through August 2019. During the month of July, when “Summer-In-The-Parks” takes over use of the Main Hall during the morning hours, the cleaning will shift to 2:00 pm until 4:00 pm on Tuesdays, and only involve the lower level, e.g. Lower Hall, Kitchen, Hallway, Restrooms, and Council Room. We are pleased with the cleaning work by the SEEC team, and appreciate the updated cleaning methods to protect our new and restored floors in McCathran Hall.
MONTGOMERY MUNICIPAL CABLE (MMC) – Charlie Challstrom
The Town is a participating member of MMC, a nonprofit organization established to operate a cable station on behalf of municipalities in Montgomery County. MMC produces a series of local shows and records community events. MMC’s Melissa Aymold will return to Washington Grove to video some of our Music Weekend activities including the Youth Recital on Saturday, June 15. Another Town video project is planned to showcase the Town’s street name sign restoration.
CONTRACTS – Rob Gilmore
I intend to work with the newly-formed Stormwater Management Committee to finalize a proposed Request for Proposal regarding an engineering study; that proposed RFP then will be submitted to the Town Council for review, approval and issuance. The Stormwater Management Committee’s initial meeting will be June 25, 2019.
DOG PARK – Rob Gilmore
The Dog Park Committee held a meeting on May 22, 2019. The Committee is focusing on (1) organizing the opening day even for the park on June 15, 2019, (2) ensuring proper maintenance of the fence and area, (3) purchasing benches for the park, and (4) finalizing the processes and procedures for membership records and points of contact for information and issues that might arise.
WOODS – Rob Gilmore
The Woods Committee held a meeting on June 3, 2019. The Committee will present an informational meeting on Managed Deer Hunting in Washington Grove on Monday evening, June 24, at 7:00 pm in McCathran Hall. Speakers will include: Ryan Butler (Montgomery Parks Wildlife Management), David Peterson (Montgomery County Archery Program), David Berk (Bow Hunter Fire Fighters of Maryland), and Elisa Carbone (Community Organizer from the Meadow Woods Neighborhood of Montgomery County). A question and answer session will follow short presentations by the speakers. The Committee intends to try to capture a brief sense of the meeting. The Committee requests that all Town Council members attend, and that a Town Alert be distributed a week prior to the meeting.
The Committee will ask the Town Council at the next meeting to clarify the meaning of the term “session” in the recent Hunting Ordinance. There was a discussion of the location of a possible future exclosure and reforestation area in the East Woods. Two new white oaks were recently planted in the East Woods. A subcommittee is forming to make trails in the East Woods more accessible, but will need input about the Storm Water Management which is being solicited by the Town Council. IPC finished its spring herbicidal work in the East and West, focusing on mile-a-minute and wisteria.
The Committee reviewed information provided by the Bow Hunting Fire Fighters of Maryland organization, one of the leading county-approved groups involved in supervised deer management through archery. In addition, the Committee reviewed studies regarding the rates of killing versus wounding of deer from archery.
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – Rob Gilmore
Nothing to report.
WEBSITE – Marida Hines
The Communications Working Group is soliciting volunteers to participate in Website Usability Testing. This will be a commitment of two 1-hour sessions and will consist of 5 tasks to accomplish on the website while an observer notes any navigation or information organization problems so they can be corrected. An announcement requesting volunteers will be in the July Bulletin, with testing planned for mid to late July.
RECREATION – Marida Hines
The Recreation Committee met on Wednesday, April 17, 2019.
Summer in the Parks – Hiring is complete and all systems are go for a great 2019 SITP.
Music Weekend – Planning for the June 14-16, 2019 events is largely complete. Performances will include “Piano Bar with Jerry Calderone on Friday, a Youth Recital and Reception on Saturday morning, The Rock & Roll Relics on Saturday evening, and a Jazz Brunch with the ‘Round Maryland Quartet’ on Sunday morning. Montgomery Municipal Cable has agreed to tape some performances.
Labor Day – Planning is underway but more volunteers are needed. Emily Cavey, Rob Gilmore, Sam Beres, Sung Chang are each taking lead for one day. At least two more people are needed to help.
COMMUNICATIONS WORK GROUP – Marida Hines
The Communications Working Group will meet in mid-June (date TBD). The meeting is open to the public and details will be on the Town website.
Final recommendations from the Town resident survey have been delivered to the Mayor.
Communications survey – As one of the primary aspects of resident feedback was difficulty finding content on the website, the next step is to conduct website usability testing. Requests for volunteers will be placed in the next Bulletin and testing will take place in July.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS & SAFETY COMMITTEE – Pat Klein
The EPSC met on May 23, 2019. The following topics were discussed.
Safety and Emergency Communications: Committee members expressed concern for lack of progress to improve Town emergency communications so the EPSC will continue exploring options for distribution of safety and emergency messages. Several examples are:
- Everbridge messaging services are used by Montgomery County and City of Gaithersburg to push alerts and other urgent messages to subscribers.
- “Nextdoor” is being used by several Washington Grove households and could be used as a virtual Neighborhood Watch program to help foster neighbor-to-neighbor communications as is being done in other communities. Further information on “Nextdoor” is being gathered.
- “Washington Grove Cares” also was discussed for improving communications with neighbors, notably connecting with those possibly needing some community support.
County Emergency Dispatch Problems: EPSC discussed a recent incident where Montgomery County (MC) EMT responders had problems locating the 17 Circle house for an emergency call. MC Fire and Rescue Service explained that their Computer Assisted Dispatch (CAD) system was being upgraded and EPSC requested confirmation of the use of the house location spreadsheet information we provided.
Hazard Mitigation Plan: The TC approved and adopted the latest MC Hazard Mitigation Plan in May 2019. EPSC members had worked with MC and other local governments to add hazard mitigation actions of particular local interest, such as renovation of stormwater drainage under Railroad Street.
Risk Management and Safety Procedures: The EPSC continued drafting “Town of Washington Grove Risk Management and Safety Procedures” compiled from various sources and recommended by the Local Government Insurance Trust. The “Risk Policy Statement” will be revised to reflect Mayor and Town Council responsibilities. Examples will be included of risk management and safety procedures available from other municipalities and the Maryland Municipal League. The EPSC will continue updating the Town’s draft document during future meetings.
The next EPSC meeting will be Thursday, June 27, 2019
MAPLE LAKE – Pat Klein
The Lake Committee met on May 23, 2019. A number of tasks were discussed as the Lake is being prepared to open for the season. A pair of Canada geese remained at the Lake following egg oiling, but have since left. A new blinking orange light was installed on the island to deter geese.
NatureWorksCWA (algae & pond weed control) came and treated the lake on 5/16 and 6/5. Water testing for coliforms started on June 3 and be conducted monthly through the summer season. The diving board is scheduled to be installed on June 14 (first day of summer vacation.) New AED paddles were ordered and installed to replace the expired ones. Life guards have been hired and Renee Suzich will be the swim instructor. She will work with Lainey to get trained & organized.
The Lake Committee chair met with MCPD about again conducting random patrols twice or 3x a week in late May to early June to prevent trespassing at the Lake. The Lake opens Memorial Day (week-ends), and June 14th full-time. The next Lake Committee meeting is on June 20th.
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION – Audrey Maskery
Six large canopy trees were planted by tree spade this spring.
One Maple planted near the children’s swing set in Woodward Park.
One Pin Oak near #1 the Circle.
One Willow Oak will also be planted in the Circle Fall between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue, the later planting is because the Willow Oak needs planting before leafing out or after the leaves have fallen.
One Pin Oak planted Oak Street/Grove Avenue.
One Pin Oak planted Grove Avenue/Center Street.
One Kousa Dogwood in the old town garden on Grove Road.
A very large oak was topped on Grove Avenue near Center Street after decay was noticed at the base and its soundness was assessed by an arborist and by an arborist whose specialty to tree risk assessment.
The spring tree pruning started on Chestnut Avenue and will continue through the public walkways and parks in the next two/three months.
The Bartlett contractor for PEPCO marked one large oak on Brown Street for removal, after consultation with F&B. The tree is badly compromised around the base. The tree will be replaced as soon as the County replace the drainage pipe under Railroad Street and CSX track; currently the area is too wet and poor drainage.
MAINTENANCE – Audrey Maskery
Maintenance has been working on the children’s climbing ‘Fort’ the rotting supports of the Fort section have been replaced.
Installed new speed bump on Ridge Road.
Removed and replaced rotted 6X6 rails in Woodward Park.
Picked up WSSC water meter in preparation for watering the recently planted trees. Purchased mulch for the new trees, picked up topsoil to place in the ruts left by the contractor.
Continue string trimming and cutting the grass on ball field; avenues and circle.
Fixed hole in the fence that surrounds Maple Lake, set the surveillance cameras
Replaced the street signs with refurbished signs. Installed the dog park sign on the fence.
Cut up and removed the tree branches that fell during the storm, then hauled the debris to the dump.
MEMORIALS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report.
PLAYGROUNDS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report.
Nothing to report.