12 November 2018 | Approved: 10 December 2018
Mayor Compton called the regular meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:08 PM. In attendance were Council Members Darrell Anderson, Charlie Challstrom, Marida Hines, and Pat Klein. Also in attendance were Treasurer Mary Challstrom, and residents Georgette Cole, Dog Park Committee Co-Chairs Christine Dibble and Mary Warfield, Larry French, Betsy Klinger, Lisa Kokes, Woods Committee Co-Chair Joan Mahaffey, Virginia Quesada. Councilors Robert Gilmore and Audrey Maskery arrived during the Woods Committee presentation.
Approval of the Agenda:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the agenda. Darrell Anderson seconded the motion. Report on PEPCO tree trimming was added. Vote: 4-0. Approved, as amended.
There were none.
Report on PEPCO Tree Trimming:
Audrey Maskery reported that PEPCO has scheduled pruning of Town trees to reduce potential damage to power lines (last performed 4 years ago). This will likely take place in April. Audrey and Steve Werts will walk through Town with PEPCO to determine what action will be taken. Audrey, Steve and Georgette Cole will monitor this closely. In order to keep residents informed, a Town Bulletin announcement will be written.
Woods Committee Presentation to the Council:
Co-Chair Joan Mahaffey started the presentation with a history of the Forest Stewardship Plan prepared for the Town by Bill Bond of Parkland Woodland Services and approved by the Town Council in December 2015.. She explained the three (3) pronged approach to achieving a healthy forest and listed the accomplishments of the Woods Committee since 2007. Joan invited all to attend the Informational Meeting on Restoring Forest Health on Tuesday, Nov. 13th which will include speakers from the Montgomery County Deer Management Program, University of Maryland Forest Extension and Maryland Native Plant Society. Mayor Compton thanked Joan for bringing everyone up-to-date and stated how fortunate the Town is to have dedicated volunteers committed to restoration of our Woods. He went on to say that it is of critical importance to have support by the Town leadership and Town Council for the necessary multi-year strategy and long-term commitment of resources. He stated the best way to achieve this is to provide opportunities for residents to express support for forest health restoration options at the scheduled Informational Meeting and at a Special Town Meeting called to address future specific plans for controlling invasive plants and reducing damage by deer over-browsing. Discussion included:
- Council reaction to Woods Committee presentation
- Effective ways to move forward
- Options residents will accept and support
- Purpose of the informational meeting on Tuesday
- Potential dates for Special Town Meeting (December 19 or early January)
Action: The Woods Committee will review town residents’ responses to a questionnaire distributed at the Informational Meeting and present the summary findings at the next TC meeting. Mayor Compton will consider whether to schedule a Special Town Meeting or wait to do so until the December 10 Town Council meeting.
Approval of Minutes:
Darrell Anderson moved to approve the minutes of the Town Council meeting on October 8, 2018. Charlie Challstrom seconded the motion.
Vote: 6-0, approved without modification.
Treasurers Report 2018-October pdf
Darrell Anderson moved to accept the Treasurer’s Report for October 2018. Marida Hines seconded the motion. Treasurer Mary Challstrom reminded the Mayor and Council that Bob Diss from Lindsey & Associates will attend the December meeting to discuss the annual audit report.
Vote: 6-0. Approved, as presented.
Rob Gilmore moved to approve the transfer of $20K from savings to checking in order to pay bills. Pat Klein seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0. Transfer approved.
2019 Master Plan – Status Report:
Master Plan Coordinator Georgette Cole reported:
The Planning Commission continues to work through the 2009 Master Plan to identify areas which need revision. One session occurred in August, the next is scheduled for November 28. A third work session on January 16 will focus on Section 1 1.3 and Section 8 which deal with the Commercial Corner.
The Historic Preservation Commission proposed that material in the National Register update should be recognized in the 2019 Master Plan, and the current timeframes for the NR update and Master Plan revision can accommodate the inclusion. The HPC has provided a summary of the material they are working on and where it will fit in the Master Plan. The HPC has been urged to start submitting non-Historic Register updates in December.
To date, submissions have been received from the Bicycle Workgroup and the Emergency Preparedness Committee and are expected from the Forestry and Beautification Committee, the Woods Committee, and the Lake Committee in December.
John McClelland, Robert Johnson and Virginia Quesada are working on revisions related to storm water management.
Maple Lake Culvert Replacement – Update:
Mayor Compton gave an overview of the project and announced it was completed exactly as proposed to the Council in October. The storm water issues “upstream” remain to be addressed.
Action: Mayor Compton will contact our new Code Enforcement Inspector who has stormwater experience to determine his interest and qualifications to consult on remedies.
McCathran Hall Generator Installation – Update:
Mayor Compton reported the installation of the new generator is happening. Electric connections are ready but await new circuit breaker panel box. He explained his administrative decision to approve an additional $2,100 expense to cover installation of a larger breaker panel box and “heavy-up” increase in electric service to 200 amps to the Hall. These items were discussed but not included in the original RFP award, but it has since become apparent it will be cost-effective to do them now.
Speed Bumps – Signage:
Safety issues were raised concerning the lack of signage for the trial, temporary speed bumps. Bump signs have been installed at the STOP signs where the bumps are located and warning signs will be installed ahead of the bumps. Concern that the trial bumps may violate state standards for public roads generated the following discussion:
- State law.
- Substitution of humps for the bumps.
- Types of humps, speed tables.
- Future of the speed bump/hump trial; moving the humps to different locations.
- Efficacy of the trial; positive results on Chestnut Road.
- Bump replacement by humps on Chestnut Road.
- Requests for bumps/humps traffic calming on Hickory Road, Grove Road and Brown Street.
Action: Councilor Anderson will research options for temporary humps or speed table purchase.
Approval of Mayor’s Appointment of Robyn Renas as the Alternate on the HPC:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the Mayor’s appointment of Robyn Renas to the HPC as the Alternate. Marida Hines seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0, approved.
Review of Dog Park Request for Proposal:
The Mayor and Council reviewed specifications and installation descriptions on pages 10 & 11, especially the clearing of a 4-foot width of ground for fence installation and cementing fence posts in the ground. The Woods Committee requested additional time to provide advice and comment. Discussion followed:
- Would the clearing be done by volunteers, the fence contractor, or someone other than the contractor?
- Specifics for the double-gate entry.
- Noting the ability for deer to jump the proposed 5ft. fence.
- Adding a disclaimer to the Rules about the 5’ fence height and owner’s responsibilities if their dog is a jumper.
- Adjusting fence boundaries to accommodate clearing of a 4 ft. swath for installation of the fence and gate area.
- The advisability of pre-clearing before companies come out to look at the area.
Action: Revisions to the RFP will be considered at the December Town Council Meeting. In the interim Co-Chair Mary Warfield will coordinate with the Dog Park Group members and Co-Chair Pat Klein will coordinate with the Woods Committee members to set a date for a walk-through to resolve issues. Advance notice will be distributed to the Town Council.
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the Council Reports and post them on the website. Darrell Anderson seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0, Town Council Reports approved.
The fence encroachment at 215 Washington Grove Lane was discussed. Mayor Compton reviewed the history of the fence on Town land at this address. The side lot fence remains eight (8) ft into Town property. Charlie Challstrom referenced a memo from the Planning Commission with recommendation to serve notice to the property owner (in this case the title company) that the Town would be removing the fence if not remedied.
Action: Mayor Compton will give notice of a time period for owner removal, before the Town acts and the fence sections are moved onto the property (by Steve Werts).
See 215 WG Lane in Council Reports
Montgomery Municipal Cable Survey Response – Charlie Challstrom again distributed a questionnaire prepared by MMC. He asked for responses from the Mayor and Council.
Action: Further discussion at the next meeting.
Mayor Compton reported an inquiry about setting up an archery range in Woodward Park or on other Town land. The Mayor and Council concluded there was nowhere on Town land safe enough to approve this activity.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 9:42 PM.
TC REPORTS – November 2018
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – Darrell Anderson
Meetings: The regular monthly meeting was scheduled for October 16, 2018, but was cancelled due to a lack of quorum. It was rescheduled for October 23, 2018. I was not available to attend but items on the agenda and discussions with members resulted in this report. The next regular meeting is scheduled for November 20, 2018.
Progress on contract for review of the Town’s Historic District Updating: Robinson Associates has submitted a draft report of the “Viewshed Documentation” that is part of Phase II of the updating and expanding of our National Register Historic District designation. Comments are being compiled by the HPC. The review of the Phase I report ends on November 6. The HPC is collating comments to be forwarded to Robinson Associates.
There may be a need to revise the 2017 contract for the Historic District designation to add outside consultants. The Chair indicated this may be something that the Town Council will have to review and approve.
Sale of 315 Grove Avenue (Jane Seegal): The HPC will have comments on the document for the sale of Town property at 315 Grove Avenue. The Chair asked for input from HPC members.
MAHDC Walking Tour: The HPC hosted a walking tour by members of the MAHDC as part of the Historic designation application.
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – Darrell Anderson
No report this month.
STREET SIGN RESTORATION PROJECT – Darrell Anderson
Susan Van Nostrand held another gathering to produce more of the signs for this project. The 7 new signs produced last month were given to Steve for placement. This brings the total to 125 and the project is nearing completion.
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Darrell Anderson
Repaving: The RFP was completed and distributed to seven potential bidders. Steve and I met and marked the areas under consideration. Bids will be opened at the December Council meeting and it is hoped that some work can be completed in December if the weather cooperates. Potential bidders have begun visiting the Town to review construction areas designated in the RFP. The draft contract is being developed and will be reviewed and finalized before awarding the contract.
Speed Hump Trial: It appears the speed hump trial is meeting with a positive response from some Town residents; there have been a few negative responses.
Because of the potential legal requirement for posting signs for speed bumps/humps, signs were ordered and have begun being placed at appropriate locations.
A request from residents have been made for possible placement of speed humps along Grove Road and Hickory Road. This will be something the Council needs to discuss and consider.
PLANNING COMMISSION – Charlie Challstrom
• 116 Ridge Road – approved an addition to the existing residence; a recent boundary survey was completed for this property.
Master Plan Update: Topics have been selected for the November 28 and January 16 Planning Commission Master Plan work sessions. On November 28, the Commission will continue its first pass through the 2009 Master Plan to bring items up to date. On January 16, the Commission expects to focus on recommendations from other groups and committees. The Commission has received submissions from the bike path group and from the Emergency Preparedness Committee. Submissions are expected from the Forestry and Beautification Committee and the Woods Committee in December, and from the Border Committee in January.
215 Washington Grove Lane: Recent Title company inquiries associated with change of ownership of 215 Washington Grove Lane have prompted review of the adjacent fence along Center Street. A portion of the fence is located on the Center Street right of way, approximately parallel and 8 feet or more from the property boundary line of 215 Washington Grove Lane. Based on the Washington Grove Zoning Ordinance (Article VII, Section 4.2), this portion of the fence violates the criteria for a fence as an accessory building that must be located on the same lot or contiguous lots under the same ownership with a main building. Therefore, such portions of the fence represent a non-conforming use of a building. The Washington Grove Zoning Ordinance (Article VII, Section 5.251) states: In the case of transfer of property ownership or occupancy, a non-conforming use of a building or lot may not be transferred or continued. The Planning Commission recommends the Mayor initiate removal of the portions of the fence encroaching on Town property.
Maryland Planning Commissioners Conference: The first day of the 2-day conference at the Gaithersburg Holiday Inn included foundations of planning, law and ethics, comprehensive planning, and growth management tools. This “Planning Commission Education Course” is required for all PC Members and Alternates, and is also available on Planning.Maryland.gov website. The second day included “A Better Maryland” interactive session on Maryland’s evolving plan intended to provide a framework for a thriving economy and environmental stewardship. A major highlight of the Conference was the interaction with planning colleagues from all over the State.
MCCATHRAN HALL – Charlie Challstrom
McCathran Hall Generator Project: The Maryland Historical Trust has approved installation of the McCathran Hall generator. The new Generac generator is in place, and the connection work will include an electrical upgrade for 200-amp service while installing the new panel required for generator connection and compliance with Electrical Code updates.
McCathran Hall Floor Beam Reinforcement Project: After discussion of an updated strategy for the termite infestation treatments, the Council approved reissuing the RFP for the McCathran Hall floor beam reinforcement project with a revised response time before the January Council meeting.
Cleaning Person Needed: The Town is looking for person to clean McCathran Hall. The job takes 3 to 4 hours per week, and is usually done in the late afternoon. The Town provides cleaning supplies and equipment. A list of janitorial duties for McCathran Hall is available from Kathy Lehman. This job pays $15.00 – $20.00 per hour to start, commensurate with experience. Interested persons should contact Kathy Lehman or Charlie Challstrom.
MONTGOMERY MUNICIPAL CABLE (MMC) – Charlie Challstrom
I am hoping for additional feedback from Town officials and residents to complete the Town’s response to a questionnaire from MMC, a nonprofit organization established to operate a cable station on behalf of municipalities in Montgomery County. The Town is a participating member of MMC, with representation on the MMC Board. One of the questions asks if the Town is interested in having our meetings recorded to be televised on MMC. Another question asks if there any residents interested in a training course with MMC to be able to use MMC equipment to produce programming within our community for the purpose of airing it on the MMC channel.
CONTRACTS – Rob Gilmore
Nothing to report.
DOG PARK – Rob Gilmore
The Dog Park Committee did not hold a meeting in October. Dog Park Committee co-chairs Christine Dibble and Mary Warfield continued work with Town Council liaison Rob Gilmore on the proposed request for proposal, which has been circulated to the Town Council as well as the Woods Committee for review and comment.
WOODS – Rob Gilmore
The Woods Committee held a meeting on Monday, November 5, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. at McCathran Hall. The Committee first discussed the draft Dog Park RFP that Rob Gilmore had circulated, and agreed to review and provide comments on the draft as appropriate given the Woods Committee’s role and knowledge concerning the protection of the Town forest reserve. Next, the Committee reviewed and discussed draft revisions to the Master Plan that were being proposed to the Planning Commission. Then, the Committee discussed the upcoming town informational meeting on November 13, including the outside experts who have been invited to attend, and the format and messaging for that meeting.
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – Rob Gilmore
Nothing to report.
WEBSITE – Marida Hines
Nothing to report.
RECREATION – Marida Hines
The next meeting of the Recreation Committee is Wednesday, January 16, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. The Recreation Committee has advertised this on the website and is actively seeking volunteers to help with their many activities.
The 10th Annual Washington Grove BluestoberFest was held Saturday, October 13th, 6:00 – 10:00 PM and featured acoustic sounds from Eleanor Ellis and South Carolina-based Shrimp City Slim.
Several new activities sponsored by the Recreation Committee have met with success, including Square Dancing on first and third Mondays and the Mindfulness Meditation class on Wednesday evenings.
The Holiday Show is scheduled for Saturday, December 15 at 6pm.
COMMUNICATIONS WORK GROUP – Marida Hines
The next Communications Working Group meeting will be on Monday, November 19 at 7:30, agenda TBD. All are welcome.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS COMMITTEE – Pat Klein
The EPC met on October 25, 2018 and discussed the following topics.
The Town received approval from the Maryland Historical Trust to install the Generac generator for the Town Hall.
The EPC provided input to the Montgomery County’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security for updates on the County Hazard Mitigation Plan. Input included requesting MC’s replacement of a pipe under Railroad Street to facilitate stormwater drainage from Morgan Park. Once MC adopts an updated plan, municipalities are expected to adopt it to remain eligible for FEMA disaster relief and grants.
The EPC finalized its draft language for submission to the Town’s 2019 Master Plan with respect to responsibility for risk management oversight. This would clarify that the EPC will advise the Mayor and the Council regarding risk management including development and update of risk control procedures.
The Committee continued reviewing its draft “Town of Washington Grove Risk Management and Safety Procedures” document compiled using material from the Local Government Insurance Trust (LGIT). The updated risk management oversight language will be reflected in this procedures document as the next draft version is prepared.
A traffic safety ‘line of sight at street intersections’ was discussed. Specifically, shrub overgrowth at the Grove Road-Brown Street intersection hinders line of sight for drivers with risk to pedestrians and vehicles. EPC members planned to meet on November 4th to evaluate other visual obstructions at Town intersections and street signs. Traffic safety at the intersection of Chestnut Road and Railroad Street also was discussed noting that Montgomery County is responsible for traffic signs along Railroad Street.
The EPC noted safety improvements for the Brown Street gate area near Hickory Road. There was uncertainty on the key status and how the gate can be opened in an emergency situation. Lift-out bollards could be a safer alternative for pedestrians and bicyclists. Town maintenance will be consulted. The utility pole guy-wire near the gate was noted as a safety hazard. The EPC ordered yellow guy wire protectors for this location and for another along Brown Street near Pine Ave.
The next EPC meeting will be on November 29, 2018.
MAPLE LAKE – Pat Klein
The Lake Committee held its final meeting of this year on October 18, 2018.
Preparations this fall included: (1) the dock was pressure-washed and stained, (2) vegetation along the lake edge between the dock, beach and on the island was trimmed, (3) the lake drain was opened on October 10th using the newly fixed PVC pipes and drawn down by 5-6 feet in time for the October 20th work session.
Town maintenance and helpers replaced the Lake Bridge by the inner gate using a 4.5-foot diameter corrugated steel pipe surrounded by concrete and re-bar with a cement and dirt road-way on top. Hand rails were installed on both sides of the bridge. The new culvert worked very well during the heavy rain the week of Nov. 5th.
A Lake clean-up work session was held on October 20, 2018. The toy bin was cleaned and organized, trash removed around the lake, the lowered lake was probed with a grappling hook for any submerged obstacles off the dock – none were found, and a possible path from the lake enclosure near old pump house to Maple Spring was explored. It looks possible without having to elevate it above the wetlands. The Lake Committee recommended the Woods Committee to take the lead on Maple Spring restoration.
Three new American Holly trees (4-5 feet high) from Stadler were planted along the edge of the grass just beyond the life guard’s shed towards the old pump gate. Pending repairs include installing barbed-wire along the top of the new fence by Newport estates and fixing broken fence between the gate and outflow.
The next Committee member meeting is Feb/March 21 2019.
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION – Audrey Maskery
One Scarlet Oak Planted on Grove Avenue to replace trees lost recently in the area. Six replacement trees will be also be planted mid-November.
Next F&B meeting will take place on Nov. 14 at 7:30 PM in the Council Room. Everybody welcome.
MAINTENANCE – Audrey Maskery
Work on drainage ditch and re-build of bridge to Maple Lake entrance involved placement of a larger pipe to carry flow of water and debris from Washington Grove lane. Rocks/riprap to steady the flow of water through the area.
Drew plans in preparation for presentation to Maryland Historical Society for the emergency generator placement at the Town Hall.
MEMORIALS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report.
PLAYGROUNDS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report.
INTERGOVERNMENTAL – Joli McCathran
I attended the MML Montgomery County chapter monthly meeting where most of the discussion was on cell tower legislation before the County Council (Zoning Text Amendment 18-11, Telecommunications Towers-Approval Standards). The Chapter submitted a thoughtful letter with criticism and recommendations to amend the proposed legislation. By law, Oct. 31st was the last day for the Council to take action prior to their recess. After a lengthy discussion on the numerous amendments on several days, the Council decided to postpone action until the new Council takes office.
It is important for the Town to consider the legislation before this issue comes up again. Suellen attended the Chapter meeting and is highly informed on ZTA concerns.
Copies of the MML Chapter letter to the County Council and the proposed Zoning Text Amendment 18-11 are available from the Mayor or the Town Office upon request.
Complete information on the County legislation may be found at this link: https://montgomerycountymd.gov/cable/towers/zta-links.html