13 November 2017 | Approved: 11 December 2017
Mayor Joli McCathran called the regular meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:34 p.m. In attendance were Council Members John Compton, Pat Klein, Audrey Maskery, Greg Silber and Shelley Winkler. John McClelland arrived at 7:47 p.m. Also in attendance were Bob Diss from the accounting firm Lindsey & Associates and 28 Town residents.
Approval of Agenda:
John Compton moved to approve the agenda. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Two items were removed from the agenda. Vote: 5-0, approved.
Larry French asked about the status of the decision to hold Council meetings in a room more conducive to public interaction. Mayor McCathran stated John McClelland and Steve Werts were working on a table which would allow the Council to face the audience. The prototype is not yet complete.
Approval of Minutes:
Shelley Winkler moved to approve the minutes of the Town Council meeting of September 11, 2017 and post them to the website. Pat Klein seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0, approved, as amended.
Lindsey & Associates/Bob Diss:
Mr. Diss discussed the 2017 Audit Report. He explained the Town received a clean opinion. He went on to highlight certain areas of the report and took a question from the Council. The Mayor and Council thanked Bob for attending the meeting.
Action on Ordinance 2017-05:
Pat Klein moved to approve Ordinance 2017-05; Zoning Text Amendment Adopting Amendments to the Washington Grove Zoning Ordinance Article VII, Section 13.263 regarding the Vicinity Map Required with an Application for a Local Map Amendment. Shelley Winkler seconded the motion. There was no discussion. Vote: 6-0.
Permanent Easement Application, 15 The Circle:
Mayor McCathran explained this item was on the agenda to get guidance from the Town Council. She expressed concern with spending Town funds for our attorney to complete the draft of this application when a petition asking to purchase Town land as an alternative to an easement was still pending. John McClelland said and Shelley Winkler agreed, the easement process should be permitted to go forward as the current Ordinance authorizes the granting of an easement and the property owner would like to proceed. John mentioned that when this topic was raised at the last Planning Commission meeting, the Planning Commission also saw no reason to stop the process for 15 The Circle based on a pending petition. In conclusion, the Council agreed the process for the permanent easement application for 15 The Circle should be allowed to continue.
Bike Path: Update
John Compton explained the need for the Town to re-engage with the County regarding a proposed bike path connecting Gaithersburg, Shady Grove Metro station and as a throughway to other areas. Little has happened in several years and a few residents are questioning as to why. He mentioned although the repaving of Oakmont Avenue welcomed, it netted little in terms of a
path for bikes, wheelchairs, or pedestrians. There was additional discussion including the following:
- County Bike Path Master Plan
- Location of path
- Completion of Amity Drive
- Potential removal of trees on Brown Street
- Previous discussions with County employees
- Developing a process to focus on a bike path
Mayor McCathran agreed to speak with Mr. Thomas, Montgomery County Department of Transportation by the next meeting of the Town Council.
Jay Everhart said he had a conversation with Mr. Thomas who stated since the path location is not clear, a study will have to be undertaken. Mr. Thomas told Jay he was under the impression the Town was not interested in the bike path. There was another discussion about how Mr. Thomas may have come to that conclusion and about how the Town could change that perception.
Herbicide Spraying: Mayor McCathran gave a history of the Town’s efforts to manage its woods. Much research about removal of non-native invasives and controlling deer browse has been done by the Woods Committee. The Council and residents discussed the use of Glyphosate by the contractor, Invasive Plant Control (IPC) and by Montgomery County. The Mayor, Council, and residents discussed the following:
- The possibility of nullifying the current contract with IPC
- The need to address deer damage
- Evaluating the efficacy of Stage I actions and reporting to Town residents
- Reviewing new scientific information about Glyphosate
- Asking scientists about the effects of Glyphosate on residents, animals, woods and water, which was done by the Woods Committee and more information could be shared
- Responsibilities of licensed vegetation treatment professionals
- Researching results of ceasing to spray Glyphosate or using less of it
- A few residents expressed the concept that they would not want any herbicide used even if it is necessary to control non- native invasive plant species
- Residents desiring more response to the herbicide concerns
- Residents’ responsibility to stay informed by attending Council and Committee meetings, consulting agendas, Council and Committee reports and meeting minutes, and attending committee meetings where items such as herbicide use are discussed in detail
- The need to stay ahead of non-native invasive plant material
- Difficulties arising from taking things personally whenever there is dissent
In conclusion, the Woods Committee has been asked to monitor Stage I actions under the Invasive Plant Control contract (e.g., efforts to control invasive plants), assess the relative success of actions to date, review any credible scientific information, and take into consideration resident’s concerns that have been voiced.
Town Street Signs:
Susan Van Nostrand showed the restored signs completed so far. Thirty-eight volunteers have told Susan they are willing to work on the signs. Susan reported a wood business in Rockville could do the letter routing for $30.00 per sign. She also has three volunteers who will work on the routing in Town, and does not need to use the professionals at this point. In addition, she presented a prototype for a substitute sign to go up while re-furbishing is being done. She needs a list of signs that need immediate attention. Pat Klein expressed concerns about drivers of emergency vehicles being able to adequately detect signage. In order to always have signs up, she asked if the less expensive metal signs could be purchased. John McClelland moved to authorize the sign restoration group to proceed with the proposal as designed. Shelley Winkler seconded the motion. It was suggested a written procedure be created for the process of renovating Town street signs including costs and a general timeline. Gail Littlefield volunteered the HPC to help with the procedure, the list of signs and priorities.
Ridge Road Speed Traffic Control – Shelley Winkler explained the difference between a speed hump and a bump. The Town has speed humps on Ridge Road, which are approximately 11 to 12 feet from entering to exiting, and were designed to be approximately 3 inches in maximum height. As to Ridge Road, Shelley previously reported that the cost of restoring the third speed hump would be greatly reduced if the work is done at the same time as other road work. The Council will revisit repairing that hump as other road work is proposed, to reduce the cost.
Shelley also showed pictures of rubber speed bumps the Town could buy and which Town Maintenance can install. Two six-foot sections would cost under $400.00. Greg Silber moved to purchase two sets of rubber bumps. The Council discussed installing on Chestnut Road at Oak Street and on Chestnut Road at Acorn Lane, two locations which have existing stop signs to force the vehicles to come to a stop. This would serve as a trial to determine their effectiveness in stopping speeding vehicles. The bumps are removable if necessary, can be used elsewhere if needed in the future, and can also be removed before snow clearing is needed. John McClelland seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0.
Border Committee Report:
Peter Nagrod distributed a report stating the mission, goals and actions of the group. The Committee has proposed the installation of a split rail fence along the West Woods side of Washington Grove Lane from #208 to Daylily Lane. The fence would have chicken wire attached to catch refuse being thrown and blown in the woods by drivers of passing automobiles. The Committee also proposed the installation of signs along Railroad Street and along Washington Grove Lane to identify the, “Town of Washington Grove” and show the area is part of the Town. Peter urged the Council to consider these two proposals to help residents who live along Washington Grove Lane feel more included in the Town and help with the littering. There was a brief discussion about the following:
- Wisdom of cutting back vegetation in order to make room for a fence
- Alternatives to the fence
- Including the Woods Committee in discussions involving the woods
- Clearing may result in increased speeding
- West woods not dedicated to public use
In conclusion, Peter will attend the next Woods Committee meeting in January.
Board of Supervisors of Elections Appointment: Mayor McCathran brought forth the name of Margo Cavenagh to fill the vacancy on the Board. Shelley Winkler moved to approve the Mayor’s appointment of Margo Cavenagh to the Board of Supervisors of Elections. John Compton seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0 (Councilor Maskery left before the vote).
John McClelland moved to approve and post the Council Reports, with a few corrections noted. Greg Silber seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, as amended.
Mayor’s Announcements: Mayor McCathran reported the following:
- As determined by WSSC, the sink hole in front of 302 Chestnut Avenue is not a WSSC problem. The Town will now have to research an appropriate repair.
- Montgomery County Public Schools reached out to the Mayor about a new Gaithersburg elementary school site.
- PEPCO announced a rate increase.
- The Special Town Council Meeting on November 27th in response to a petition from the property owners at 409 5th Avenue will begin with a closed session with the Town attorney from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
The Council determined it was too late to go into the advertised closed session. There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 10:45 p.m.
TC REPORTS – December 2017
WOODS COMMITTEE – Greg Silber
The Woods Committee sponsored a workday to wrap small trees in the East Woods to protect them from deer rubbing. It also acquired and planted five new trees along the Saybrooke boundary of the West Woods: a swamp oak, red maple, American holly, and two fringe trees.
Based on discussion during the November Town Council meeting, the Committee will assess the efficacy and the advantages/disadvantages of ongoing woods preservation and protection activities including removal of non-native invasive plant species, deer control, and other activities.
The Committee did not meet in December. The next Committee meeting will be Tuesday 2 January at 7:30.
CONTRACTS – Greg Silber
Fall leaf collection is underway and will continue through 4 January. Some leaf piles have lingered for unusually long times, and we’re trying to stay on this with the contractor. But, generally this work proceeds well and leaves have been removed at a reasonably good rate.
We have secured a back-up, “as needed” contract for snow removal with RJ Landscape.
RECREATION – Shelley Winkler
“As the Grove Turns” Holiday Show will be held on Saturday, December 16, 7:30pm, at McCathran Hall.
A Valentine’s Dance will be held on Saturday, February 10, with music by the Swing Time Big Band. The Committee has engaged a swing dance teacher for a lesson before the dance, hoping to encourage everyone interested to learn and feel comfortable dancing.
WEBSITE – Shelley Winkler
Bill Saar reports that he has completed migration of all content to the website (minutes, bulletins, house histories, and HPC reviews). All tables (including the HPC Review table) are responsive (rendering well on mobile devices). He has updated the top navigation and provided side-bar sub-navigation for all pages. Next focus will be updating images and some individual web pages.
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Shelley Winkler
We will be determining which speed bumps to purchase, and then making a decision on whether to install right after purchase or waiting, depending on snow predictions.
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – John Compton
The HPC held their regular monthly meeting November 28, 2017.
Next regular meeting will be December 19, 2017.
Expansion of our National Register nomination (Wendy Harris). The RFP had been sent to the 5 consultants who had expressed an interest in bidding (Amanda Edwards of John Milner Associates in Arlington VA; Tim Kerr of Robinson & Associates in D.C.; Laura Hughes of EHT Traceries in DC; Barton Ross of Barton Ross & Partners in Chestertown, MD; and Edie Wallace, presently of Paula Ross & Associates (Paula is retiring this September) in Sharpsburg, MD). The deadline for bids was set as 5:00p, Monday, December 11 (the next regular Town Council meeting).
Questions were received from several potential bidders, with one indicating they would not be submitting a proposal. Answers to questions were compiled with consultation (Peter Kurtze of MHT, Chris McGovern, GIS Manager at Montgomery Planning, Charlie Challstrom, and Bob Booher). Our response was distributed November 26 to the four remaining consultants.
A spreadsheet process for evaluating submissions was approved.
Street Signs (Gail Littlefield):
The wood street sign restoration group effort led by Susan van Nostrand produced a draft “Procedure for Wood Street Sign Restoration”. The HPC draft letter to the Mayor and Council offering the HPC as steward for sustaining the volunteer effort was further discussed. The letter will be finalized and the Procedure included.
Design Guidelines (Wendy Harris): The outline for design guidelines to preserve historic character continues.
Easements for Historic Preservation: A shortened version of Exhibit C in the Easement for the porch on 15 The Circle was approved. Details contained in pictures, dimensions, etc. must be retained, but account was taken of the concerns raised by the O’Connor’s concerning their easement, and focus is directed to the Easement Improvements (the part of the porch on the encroachment). The front porch is described in detail but the front façade and the rest of the house is only discussed in terms of compatibility and historic context.
Reviews, other: Nothing to report
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – John Compton
Nothing to report
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – John Compton
Nothing to report
SHADY GROVE SECTOR MASTER PLAN ADVISORY COMMITTEE – John Compton
As I am a member of this County Advisory committee charged with monitoring development in the Shady Grove Metro Master Plan area, I will begin reporting on activity of the committee.
An amendment to the approved Preliminary Plan for the development now in progress on the east side of Crabbs Branch Way, asking to replace the ~132,000 sqft office building at the corner of Shady Grove and Crabbs Branch with ~43,000 sqft of retail space, was reviewed. A letter was sent to the Planning Board that was largely supportive of the change, but also noted several concerns over access and connectivity with the proposed retail features (a potential specialty grocer was mentioned by the developer).
PLAYGROUNDS – John Compton
Nothing to report
MAPLE LAKE – Patrice Klein
Nothing to report
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS & SAFETY – Patrice Klein
The EPC met on November 30th following the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Neighborhood Watch (NW) subcommittee met in mid-November with several of the NW Block Captains to distribute their assigned block resident lists, the map, and their responsibilities. Another meeting with the remaining Block Captains will be scheduled as soon as possible. There are still several Block Captain vacancies to be filled.
The Committee reviewed an initial draft RFP for the Town Hall generator prepared by the EPC Vice Chair. Generator specifications and contractor requirements are described using the town’s current RFP template and examples of generator RFPs from other municipalities, educational institutions, and businesses. A revised draft RFP will be forwarded to Town Councilors McClelland and Silber for their review and comment as the liaisons for Town Hall building and Town contracts, respectively. The Maryland Historical Trust must approve the installation of the generator before any work commences. The EPC expects to have a final RFP prepared and submitted to the Town Council in January 2018.
The Committee received an update on the wooden street sign restoration process. Several restored signs were available in the Town Office for examination. The Committee supports this volunteer effort to restore and improve street sign reflectivity but remains concerned for town safety. There should be a 6-month review of the restoration progress to determine the extent of completion and functional improvements made in reflectivity. On a similar note, fire hydrant reflective markers need to be installed for easy location by emergency responders. The EPC will discuss scheduling with Town Maintenance.
The Committee has posted suggestions in the December Town Bulletin to encourage homeowners to improve their home address signage to ensure their homes are identified for purposes of emergency response. This was emphasized by Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service.
Several EPC members continue to gather information on Emergency Alert Notification systems to recommend to the Town Council. This includes the City of Gaithersburg ‘Ever bridge’ system. Montgomery County uses a different Alert system. Discussion on the 2019 Master Plan was postponed until the next EPC meeting on December 28th.
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION – Audrey Maskery
F&B purchased five new trees from Stadler Nursery:
1 White Pine – lower Ridge Road
2 Swamp White Oaks – 1 Sacred Circle; 1 Woodward Park
1 Nuttall Oak – Woodward Park
1 Black Gum (Wildfire) – Brown Street
2 Leatherleaf Viburnum also purchased for planting lower Ridge Road.
F&B purchased five new trees from Ace Tree Movers:
1 American Beech – planted Maple Road
2 Black Gum – 1 McCauley Park; 1 Woodward Park
3 American Hollies – planted Maintenance Shed
2 Sugar Maple – McCauley Park.
This will conclude all tree purchases for 2017.
Forestry & Beautification committee will not meet again until March 8, 2018. F&B meetings are open to all.
MAINTENANCE – Audrey Maskery
Worked on Town Hall, checking elevator before safety inspection; purchased and installed new filters for Council room furnace. Met with Guardian Fire for smoke detectors test. Cleaned gutters, fixed squirrel damage under roof-eave; replaced rotten wood by Hall door. Met with pest control contractor at Town Hall for termites/woodpecker damage.
Continued clearing leaves from drainage diches, walkways and Parks.
Repaired Trac-Vac and purchased new walk behind leaf blower.
Purchased top soil/sod for 2nd Avenue, and finished landscaping.
Cut up wood left by Pepco, leaving useable wood for Town Residents, took trash to dump.
Returned water meter to WSSC, watering will not start until early summer 2018.
MEMORIALS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report
INTERGOVERNMENTAL – Joli A. McCathran
Nothing to report
PLANNING COMMISSION – John McClelland
- 106 Pine Ave – Fence approved
- 410 Center St – Fence approved contingent upon section facing Center St lowered to 4’ or kept at 6’ and moved back 12’ to meet front yard setback distance
- 401 Brown St – Dormer installed without building permit. MoCo did issue an electrical permit and is investigating the building permit omission.
Permanent Easements vs. Sale of Town Land:
- The position of a number of residents was conveyed. The PC will discuss other options (modify the current easement ordinance, introduce an ordinance to sell Town land with strict covenants and/or other viable combinations/alternatives)
- The Woman’s Club, which is a separate legal entity from the Town, owns a structure located on Town land, however, it is not subject to the Town’s easement process and purportedly has a $1 year lease agreement with the Town.
- In accordance with the Town’s master plan, a letter will be sent to MoCo requesting inclusion of WG into their bikeways feasibility study process.
- Expressed frustration with immediate dismissal of Washington Grove Ln proposals (10’ deep clean up with split rail fence) and referral to Woods Committee although member of Woods Committee is also a Border Committee member who supported the proposal. Other options and ideas will be discussed at their next meeting.
Cator Property: Trees have been planted according to reforestation plan
Master Plan Update: December 18 meeting scheduled
House Records: 146 properties completed
Block Survey: Block 1 (Brown St near the commercial corner) is scheduled to be surveyed next.
MCCATHRAN HALL – John McClelland
Structural Problems: Extensive termite damage located in the beams under the original hall and kitchen area requires immediate attention. A termite infestation was noted with a prior wedding in the hall and suspected with the woodpecker holes throughout the exterior. A subsequent inspection of the crawl spaces (originally with the pest control contractor) revealed bean sections so damaged by termites that a screwdriver passes through it like paper. One of the damaged beams is located under the rear wall of the octagon where the kitchen area begins and sits on dirt. The kitchen floor will have to be removed to allow inspection and repair/replacement of the beams and joists as well as termite treatment of the area. Structural engineering will be required for the beams. The entire structure requires extensive termite treatment.
Table: The newly designed meeting table is on hold in lieu of the termite and structural damage
Maintenance: Men’s room toilet cracked (no leaking) and will be replaced