11 November 2019 | Approved: 9 December 2019
Mayor John Compton called the regular meeting of the Town Council to order at 8:03 p.m. In attendance were Councilors Darrell Anderson, Charlie Challstrom, Marida Hines, Patty Klein, and Audrey Maskery. Also in attendance were Treasurer Mary Challstrom, and residents Georgette Cole, Dave Cosson, John Hutchinson, Robert Johnson, Joan Mahaffey and Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts.
Approval of Agenda:
Darrell Anderson moved to approve the agenda. Charlie Challstrom seconded the motion. Mayor Compton asked to defer consideration of Resolution 2019-13 to the December meeting since Councilor Rob Gilmore, who introduced the Resolution, could not be present at the Council meeting because of a last minute work emergency.
Vote: 5-0, approved as amended.
None. Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts reported the new speed hump arrived and asked where and when the Council wanted it installed. After brief discussion, placement of the new hump on Grove Road @ Oak Street was confirmed, as well as installation of the hump currently in that location to Chestnut Road between Oak Street and Center Street. In addition, the speed bumps on Chestnut Road at Oak Street will be removed.
Approval of Minutes:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the October 14, 2019 Town Council Meeting minutes. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. There was discussion of the summary of the Resolution 2019-13 discussion in the Minutes. Vote: 5-0, approved without amendment.
Treasurers Report 2019-October pdf
Darrell Anderson moved acceptance of the October 2019 Treasurer’s Report. Marida Hines seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, accepted.
Marida Hines moved to approve the transfer of $30K from the money market account to the checking account to pay bills. Treasurer Mary Challstrom explained the recent road work by AB Veirs is the primary expense. Mayor Compton announced the Town is now paying some bills via credit card.
FY 2019 Audit Report:
Charlie Challstrom moved to accept the FY 2019 Audit pdf performed by Lindsey and Associates. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Treasurer Mary Challstrom summarized the audit by saying “the Town is in a very healthy position”, and suggested members review the Financial Highlights section and Note 3. Vote: 5-0. Audit accepted.
Deer Management Hunt – Update:
Patty Klein reported seven (7) does and one (1) buck have been harvested from the East and West Woods. There aren’t many coming to the East Woods so a feeding station was put out last week (11/4/19). She expects an archer at the end of this week. A trail camera was stolen from the West Woods. The Town reimbursed the hunter.
Resolution 2019-13 Providing For Proper Governance of WG Committees – Discussion and Possible Action:
Deferred to the December meeting. Resolution 2019-13 pdf
Ordinance 2019-15; Expanding Applicability of the Public Ways and Property Permit – Discussion and Possible Action:
Charlie Challstrom moved to enact Ordinance 2019-15 pdf to amend the Ordinance with new language introduced at the Public Hearling. Darrell Anderson seconded the motion. An additional amendment was proposed to add specific references to Sections 64, 65, and 66 of the Town Charter to the first Recital. Vote: 5-0, amendment approved.
Enactment of the Ordinance: Vote: 5-0. Approved as amended.
Ordinance 2019-17; Enacting Article XVIII Small Wireless Telecommunications Facilities and Amending Public Ways and Property Permit and Use Fees:
Discussion and possible action. Charlie Challstrom moved substitution of the Ordinance with a revised version proposed at the Public Hearing, differing in the fees portion of the Ordinance to align them with fees allowed in an FCC ruling. Darrell Anderson seconded the motion.
Vote: 5-0, substitution approved.
The Mayor and Council discussed the following:
- Installation of small wireless telecommunications facilities on private property not addressed.
- Current Town Ordinances that govern antennas, satellite dishes, etc.
- The intention to more thoroughly review the guidelines in the immediate future.
- Comments provided by Town Attorney Suellen Ferguson that included areas and consideration that should be addressed in subsequent review of the current Ordinance.
- Specific language stating the Town must be notified before any proposed installation.
- The need for some positive language. For example; stating the reason for this ordinance is to facilitate 5G installation etc.
- Possible appointment of a Task Force/Group to tackle unaddressed issues. The excellent opportunity this could provide new residents to contribute to fine-tuning this Ordinance governing these facilities
It was moved and seconded to enact the amended version of Ord 2019-17 pdf.
Vote: 5-0. Approved
Ordinance 2019-18; ZTA Amending Washington Grove Zoning Ordinance to Modify the Minimum Lot Line Standards for the RR-3 Zone
– Introduction, discussion, and date for the Public Hearing. The Planning Commission proposed this ZTA (zoning text amendment) and Charlie Challstrom gave a brief background review of the Ordinance. The Ordinance addresses subdivision in the RR-3 zone, a zone assigned only to the single property at 302 Ridge Road, amending to enable subdivision into two lots which allows retention of the existing historic home. Charlie Challstrom moved to introduce as presented and schedule a public hearing. Darrell Anderson seconded the motion.
The public hearing for Ordinance 2019-18 pdf was set and will take place on January 13, 2020 prior to the meeting of the Town Council. Vote: 5-0, setting the Public Hearing date.
Stormwater Management Request For Proposal
Discussion and action.
The draft RFP under consideration was provided by the Stormwater Management Committee. Chairman Robert Johnson reported he was still working on the bidders list, and questioned the level of liability insurance to require. Mayor Compton reported he had not received comments on the liability insurance requirement from Town Attorney Suellen Ferguson, but he agreed with others that the $2 million dollar figure was too high for a study contract (as opposed to a construction contract). The Council agreed the required coverage could be reduced to $1 million pending comments from our Town Attorney.
The lengthy discussion that followed included:
- The goal for the Town: a healthy woods with normal water flow
- Use and meaning of the terms of remediation, mitigation, and restoration
- Insuring clarity in describing what the Town is asking bidders to produce; the deliverables.
- Requiring bidders to deliver two levels of recommendations: firstly, how to stop further damage, and secondly, how to restore and remediate run-off.
- Changing the title to “Stormwater Mitigation & Stream Restoration”
Action: Robert Johnson will take these ideas back to the Stormwater Management Committee and revise the language of the RFP. The RFP will be reconsidered at the December Town Council meeting.
West Woods Boundary Survey Request For Proposal
– Discussion and possible action.
Because of the late hour, Mayor Compton proposed this item be deferred to the next meeting. The Council agreed.
Town Council Reports:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the Council Reports for posting on the Town website. Patty Klein seconded the motion. There was a brief mention of the Town’s Debris Management Plan and an announcement that a video about the Town’s street sign project is being made and will be shown on Montgomery Municipal Cable. Vote: 5-0, accepted.
Road Paving – Update:
Darrell Anderson reported AB Veirs completed their road work. MT Lainey has not yet started.
Mayor Compton reported the Public Ways & Property Permit for WSSC sewer work was signed and is effective for all of 2020. It contains a caveat stating should a tree be in danger WSSC has agreed to consult with the Town before doing work impacting the tree.
Residents affected by the sewer replacements received letters from WSSC and several expressed concern that more specific dates when work will be performed should be provided. Ned Cyr and Margo Bohan expressed to the Mayor their hope that work won’t happen in front of their home while it is on the market in the spring. The Mayor will work with WSSC to provide advance notice of the actual dates of work.
There was none.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 10:18 PM
Kathryn L. Lehman
TC REPORTS – November 2019
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – Darrell Anderson
Meetings: The regular monthly meeting was held on October 15, 2019. The next regularly-scheduled meeting will be held November 19, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. in the McCathran Hall Council Room.
The HPC reviewed plans for a shed at 342 Ridge Road The shed was discussed and the HPC will write a review.
Discussion of Bikeway
Because proposals from the County are being developed for connection of Amity with Crabbs Branch, the HPC feels it is necessary to keep up with developments for input from the Town. As part of the plans, a bikeway is being proposed that possibly would include parts of it traversing the Town. A suggestion was made to create a Bikeway Group of Town residents to more formally study and respond to County plans.
National Register Nomination (NRN) Update
The Governor’s Council reviewed the Town’s NRP submission and made some significant changes. All non-contributing sections of the Town (i.e., Brown Street extended, most of Ridge Road, Hershey’s, and areas outside our municipal boundaries) have been excluded. This as not viewed by the HPC as a positive change.
The HPC has finalized input on Section 6 and will be taking up Sections 7 through 9 in the next months.
- The HPC and Planning Commission are planning a joint meeting to discuss two issues; dormers and demolition of existing houses.
- The Associate Dean of the University of Maryland and four students studying historic preservation visited the Town at the end of October.
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Darrell Anderson
Repaving Contract for FY2020
A.B. Viers completed their sections of the repaving contract for this year. They included Ridge road from Center Street to 312 Ridge Road, as well as the two emergency areas; one on Grove Road and one on Chestnut Road. M.T. Laney has been in contact with the Town but has not responded with a signed contract. We still are hoping that this work can be completed before the winter (Ridge Road from the intersection of Brown Street to the intersection with Railroad Street).
The speed hump to replace the one on Grove Avenue has been received and will be installed when Steve has time.
The Lighting Committee met on October 23, 2019. Because the November and December meetings fall on holidays, there will not be another meeting until January. Meanwhile, however, work will continue on ongoing initiatives.
The Light Pole Inventory continues. The inventory includes pictures of each pole, the light on the pole, and a view showing surrounding areas. The pictures and other data are being filed in an electronic file that will be made public once the initiative is complete.
A discussion was held on the possible use of bollard lights along pathways or where they might be possible. Also, the possibility of lowering street lights closer to the ground to facilitate brighter pools of light without ambient diffusion.
A field trip session was held after the meeting to test out light meters that will be used to assess the amount of light actually being produced by our current lights.
STREET SIGN RESTORATION PROJECT – Darrell Anderson
Nothing to report.
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – Darrell Anderson
Nothing to report.
PLANNING COMMISSION – Charlie Challstrom
Building Permits: Planning Commission (PC) actions on the following permit applications –
- 342 Ridge Road – approved storage shed at rear of property.
- 121 Chestnut Ave – received plans for home renovation; will proceed with review.
- 412 Fourth Ave – approved home renovation, pending completion of boundary survey.
Ordinance 2019-15 – Public Ways and Property Permit: This Ordinance was previously recommended by PC to apply the Public Ways and Property Permit to residential driveways and parking areas to promote reliance on sustainable permeable surfaces and better protect public property from adverse effects of stormwater runoff. The PC now refines that recommendation to modify introduced Ordinance 2019-15 for Article III, Section 14, by deleting:
D. This section does not apply to residential driveways and parking areas.]
and replace it with the following:
D. This section does not apply to ordinary maintenance and repair of residential driveways and parking areas.
Ordinance 2019-18 – Application for ZTA to Modify RR-3 Zone Standards: In response to a request from Mike and Marisel Schank, 302 Ridge Road, the PC filed and accepted an application for a zoning text amendment (ZTA) to modify minimum lot size standards for the RR-3 Zone. The Schank property is a single parcel and the only property in the RR-3 Zone. This proposed ZTA would reduce the RR-3 minimum lot size area from 20,000 to 13,900 square feet, and reduce the RR-3 width at building line from 100 to 75 feet. The PC concludes this combination of standards would limit subdivision of the property to two buildable lots, and support retention of the existing home. The Town Council must set a date for the public hearing for this proposed ZTA, now identified as Ordinance 2019-18.
Request for Proposals (RFP) for West Woods Plats and Boundary Marking: The PC recommends the Town Council issue an RFP seeking sealed bids for plat work and boundary marking work for the West Woods. The plat work will produce an updated plat of subdivision to enable approval of the West Woods as one parcel, and an identification plat required to initiate an application for local zoning map amendment. The boundary marking work would establish property corners for remaining portions of the West Woods boundary not yet marked. A critical element of this boundary is the Washington Grove Lane right of way. The Town can move ahead with this boundary marking because we received the following message from County DOT: “Montgomery County takes no exception to the statement regarding the right of way width and the geometric definition of Washington Grove Lane provided in the email chain below.” More details are provided in the draft RFP package recommended by the PC.
MONTGOMERY MUNICIPAL CABLE (MMC) – Charlie Challstrom
As the Town’s representative on the MMC Board, I am participating in meetings with the Montgomery County Office of Broadband Programs and other municipalities to get updates on the Cable In-Kind Order by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and to plan for potential impacts on funding for the ten public, educational, and government (PEG) channels now operating in Montgomery County. The FCC order restricts what free services cable companies can be required to provide under franchise agreements, including the internet access service currently provided to our Town Hall. Montgomery County and other jurisdictions are actively pursuing litigation to overturn the Cable In-Kind Order.
CENSUS LIAISON – Charlie Challstrom
As the Town’s Census Liaison, I have consulted with Census Bureau representatives working to help inform residents about the upcoming Census 2020. The following announcement was prepared for our November Town Bulletin:
The U.S. Census Bureau has launched a national recruitment effort to hire approximately 500,000 temporary workers to help conduct the 2020 Census. The Census Bureau needs people to apply now so they can be considered for part-time census positions next spring. The pay rate for a census taker position in Montgomery County, Maryland, is $21.00 per hour. Census takers will be hired to work in their communities and go door to door to collect responses from those who do not respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone or by mail. Candidates must complete an online job application. The application includes assessment questions about your education, work and other experience. For more information and to apply, please visit: www.census.gov
MCCATHRAN HALL – Charlie Challstrom
Nothing to report.
CONTRACTS – Rob Gilmore
I will be reviewing and commenting on the Requests for Proposals for the Stormwater Management Study for the West Woods and the West Woods Plats and Boundary Marking project, to ensure that the contract language conforms with the most current requirements and best practices of the Town.
DOG PARK – Rob Gilmore
Nothing to report.
WOODS – Rob Gilmore
At the November 4, 2019 meeting, the Woods Committee finished a draft of the Committee’s Guidelines and Procedures. Approval by the Committee awaits attendance of a quorum at the January 2020 WC meeting. The Woods Committee would like clarification from the Town Council on two issues: indemnification, if a Town volunteer were injured while participating in a Committee project; and the role of the TC Liaison.
Plans were completed for the Fall Workday in the East Woods on Saturday, November 9, meeting at the Town Garage at 10:00 a.m. Activities include: dismantling two of the exclosures along Cherry Avenue extended and reopening the historic Cherry Avenue Trail; clipping Greenbriar vines which are growing up into the canopy; hand pulling and bagging a patch of non-native invasive Beefsteak, which is growing near the Cherry Avenue bridge; raking and bagging dead mile-a-minute vines near the hiking trails; and wrapping trees susceptible to deer rubbing and browsing.
The Bow Hunting Fire Fighters of Maryland (BHFFMD) have harvested seven deer total, 7 does and 1 buck in September and October. They will place a bait station with corn near the East Woods tree stand during November and January. They will not be hunting during December.
The Woods Committee would prefer to see the FEMA/MC/WG Debris Management site located in Woodward Park because it is a central location and debris can be easily loaded and unloaded from the site. The WC opposes accepting debris from any other localities except Washington Grove.
There were updates on the Request for Proposals for the Stormwater Management Study for the West Woods and the West Woods Plats and Boundary Marking Project. Both RFPs await Town Council approval.
The Woods Committee will not hold a meeting during December. Our next meeting will be January 6, 2020.
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – Rob Gilmore
Nothing to report.
WEBSITE – Marida Hines
Routine maintenance and content updates continue with no issues.
RECREATION – Marida Hines
The next meeting of the Recreation Committee is Wednesday, January 15, 2020 at 7:30 in the Council Room.
Halloween Trick-or-Treating in the Grove saw a great turnout, despite being moved from October 31 to the following day due to a tornado threat.
The 2019 Holiday Show will be held Saturday, December 14, 2019 at 7:30 PM in Town Hall. This year’s production is well underway thanks to the guidance of Producer/Director/Writer Judy Mroczka with enormous help from Marilynn Frey. The first read through has happened and the first rehearsal will be November 10, followed by rehearsals every Friday evening and Sunday afternoon until show time. Despite Washington Grove’s geographic placement in proximity to a notoriously “leaky” town, the cast & crew have remained tight-lipped and this year’s theme remains wrapped in mystery. However, Grovers can look forward to the return of Mo and Joe (Colin Turner and Rob Gilmore, or vice versa) and many other favorite cast members. This year also sees the addition of a number of budding young theatrical lights in their Washington Grove Holiday Show debuts including Lee Reber on sound, Andrew Hotaling on sound and lighting, and young cast members Dontrill and Brennan Potter. This year also sees the Show’s first Creative Team led by Jeff and Arlene McCrehan.
In other news, the Recreation Committee is gearing up to offer a knitting class in the Grove.
And as always, the Committee extends a warm welcome to anyone who would like to volunteer their time and talents.
COMMUNICATIONS WORK GROUP – Marida Hines
The final two interviews for the Town website usability tests have been scheduled and the Communications Working Group will be scheduling a meeting to discuss the conclusions.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS & SAFETY COMMITTEE – Pat Klein
The EPSC met on October 24, 2019 and discussed the following issues.
Debris Management Planning: The Mayor signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the County regarding the County’s debris management plan. Town benefits include potential use of contracted resources for debris collection, processing, and removal along with the debris monitoring required to qualify for FEMA’s 75% cost reimbursement after a significant weather event. The ESPC briefly discussed contingency planning to designate of town area for temporary holding of tree/brush debris for chipping to reduce volume before transport to off-site disposal. This planning should involve Town Maintenance, Woods Committee, Forestry & Beautification, Planning Commission, and EPSC representatives. Further discussion is pending more information expected from the County Department of Environmental Protection.
Council Resolution on Committee Governance: The EPSC discussed the Council’s ongoing consideration of a Resolution to provide guidance for town committee governance. The EPSC draft ‘bylaws’ has received positive feedback from the Council. Several other committees have modeled their ‘bylaws’ on the EPSC version. However, the statement in the Appeals section (“If a reasonable resolution is not made to the appellant’s satisfaction, the matter can be brought to the Town Council.”) implies a judicial role for the Town Council that is not consistent with the Town Charter. Further, the Mayor has stated that Committee-related issues should be resolved at the Committee level, and the Committee Liaison should ensure inclusion of significant dissenting views in any advisory report to the Council.
Follow-up on County-related Safety Issues: The EPSC has reported to the Council on concerns for safer crossings at RideOn Bus Stops, road edge improvements near Humpback Bridge, and Railroad Street pavement deterioration. These safety issues need to be revisited by the Mayor and Council and shared with the County Executive.
Winter Preparedness Event: EPSC is planning a winter event in February 2020. Residents will be encouraged to provide feedback on any emergency preparedness or safety concerns. Topics could include neighborhood watch/crime prevention, first aid training, and cybersecurity for the home. A notice will be posted in the Town Bulletin soliciting input from residents on presentation topics.
The next meeting is scheduled on Thursday, November 21, 2019.
MAPLE LAKE – Pat Klein
The Lake Committee is on winter break. No meeting conducted in October 2019.
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION – Audrey Maskery
The first four Stadler trees have been planted in Woodward Park.
- One (1) Buckeye (Fort McNair) close to the drainage ditch at the end of Pine Road.
- One (1) Black Gum (Wildfire) planted near 119 Maple Avenue.
- One (1) Kousa Dogwood planted in Chapel Park at edge of Grove Avenue.
- One (1) River Birch planted in Woodward Park behind the baseball backstop.
These two trees will provide autumnal color in the area.
Five additional trees to be planted as soon as they become available.
The next F&B meeting will be held 13th November 2019 at 7:30pm. All are welcome.
MAINTENANCE – Audrey Maskery
Put up drywall in the Town Hall Archive room.
Ran new wiring under Town Hall for Archive room air conditioner and met with electric company to finish electric hookup on new split unit for Archive Room.
Taped windows and door at Town Hall ready for staining.
Cleaned the gutters of Town Hall, blew leaves of roof and new Council Room.
Replaced damaged overhead lighting fixture with new LED fixture.
Replaced deer tree protection fencing around trees near Maintenance Shed.
Unloaded new speed bump from delivery; unloaded three (3) new park benches, assembled, and place as directed.
Cleared leaves from avenues and off parks, left at side of roads for pick up by leaf removal contractor. Removed brush from avenues and roads and took to dump for disposal.
MEMORIALS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report.
PLAYGROUNDS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report.