10 September 2018 | Approved: 8 October 2018
Mayor Compton called the regular meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:34 PM. In attendance were Council Members Charlie Challstrom, Rob Gilmore, Marida Hines, and Audrey Maskery. Darrell Anderson and Pat Klein were in attendance via telephone. Also in attendance were Treasurer Mary Challstrom, and residents Joe Clark, Planning Commission member Georgette Cole, Christine Dibble, Woods Committee Co-Chair Joan Mahaffey, Planning Commission Chair Peter Nagrod, Mary Warfield, and Recreation Committee Chair Missy Yachup. Jean Potmesil and Virginia Quesada arrived at 7:45 PM. Mary Blake arrived at 8:17 PM.
Approval of the Agenda:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the agenda. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion.
Vote: 6-0. Approved.
Joe Clark – Joe voiced his support and gratitude for the speed bumps installed on Chestnut Road. He reported his observation of drivers making full stops and a reduction in traffic volume.
Joan Mahaffey – Joan expressed her concern with the lack of notice provided by the Dog Park Committee for their meetings. She felt the Dog Park Committee should be run like other Town committees in terms of agendas, minutes and regular meetings. Christine Dibble responded saying notice was circulated on the Listserve and that the Dog Park Committee has not met in several months. There was a discussion about the formation of Town committees.
Georgette Cole – Georgette expressed her thanks to Webmaster Bill Saar for his work on the new Town Elections page.
Approval of Minutes:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the minutes of the Town Council meeting on August 13, 2018. Marida Hines seconded the motion. There was one amendment to remove mention of a ‘moratorium on herbicide treatment in the woods. Vote: 5-0 with 1 abstention (Rob Gilmore recused himself as he did not attend the August meeting.)
Treasurers Report 2018-Augustpdf
Marida Hines moved to accept the Treasurer’s Report for August 2018. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion.
Vote: 6-0. Approved.
McCathran Hall Generator Installation – Update:
Mayor Compton gave a brief summary of the purchase. He also explained the Maryland Historic Trust will meet tomorrow to review the proposed location of the generator in the easement area. MHT will contact Audrey Maskery with their decision. The generator was delivered and is stored in the Town warehouse.
Speed Bumps – Update and Discussion:
Three speed bumps have been installed by Town Maintenance: two on Chestnut Road @ Oak Street and one on Chestnut Road @ Acorn Lane. Discussion included:
- Traffic is better but people are still speeding.
- Installing a bump on Hickory @ Oak Street and Hickory @ Center.
- Pros and cons of installing a new STOP sign on Oak at Hickory (west side).
- Size of speed bumps; potential harm to vehicles.
- Engaging a traffic engineer to do a study on these particular bumps.
- Need for Mayor to issue a Traffic Order to meet Montgomery County requirements.
- Migration of drivers to roads with no bumps
Action: Possible placement of other speed bumps will be discussed at the October meeting. Councilor Anderson will report on options for Hickory Road.
West Woods Herbicide Spraying for Wavy Leaf Basketgrass:
Joan Mahaffey explained how the Basketgrass was discovered in August and the dual approach to its removal (manual & chemical). After the Woods Committee recommended urgent action to remove the grass before it went to seed in September, the Town Council approved targeted herbicide spraying. The Woods Committee led a group of resident volunteers in manually removing a portion of the invasive grass. Subsequently, residents were notified via Grove Alert that herbicide treatment by our contractor IPC would take place using the herbicide clethodim (specific to grasses). The work was performed August 24th.
- Residents present stated they would be willing to volunteer the next time removal is scheduled and asked if more notice could be given. More notice so more volunteers.
- Rob Gilmore suggested it was desirable to have a meeting to help educate residents about the program to improve the health of our woods, and to provide the opportunity to discuss options.
- Pat Klein noted that the Woods Committee was planning to hold an informational meeting in the fall to update town residents on the Forest Restoration Project activities to include non-native invasive plant control and deer population management options.
Action: Mayor Compton expressed his intention to schedule a Special Town Meeting during the second week of December for the purpose of reviewing the efforts to control invasive species in the Town Forests. Prior to such a Town Meeting, the Woods Committee is expected to hold one or more information sessions, likely before Thanksgiving, that may include County experts as invited speakers.
Bid Openings and Award of Contract – RFP for McCathran Hall Floor Beam Reinforcement:
The Town received a single bid, from Rocky Gorge Construction for $29,880.00 with 26 days to complete. The Mayor and Council discussed the advisability of seeking out more bids, the specialized nature of the work, how busy general contractors are right now, and whether completion of the work could be delayed,
Action: Defer award of contract pending consultation with other vendors and opinion of Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts.
Revision and Adoption of Resolution 2018-06; Establishing Rules and Regulations for a Town Dog Park:
Charlie Challstrom moved to adopt Resolution 2018-06. Rob Gilmore seconded the motion. A minor amendment was made to item 7 to note that registration records will be maintained in the Town Office.
Vote: 6-0, adopted as amended.
Revision and Adoption of Resolution 2018-09; Construction of a Town Dog Park:
The Mayor and Council discussed the following proposed amendments:
- Recognition by the Town Council of the formation of a volunteer Dog Park Committee
- Responsibilities of the Mayor per Town Charter
- Responsibilities of the Dog Park Committee
- Interaction with Woods Committee as needed
Charlie Challstrom moved to adopt Resolution 2018-09 as amended. Marida Hines seconded the motion. Vote: 5 (Darrell Anderson, Charlie Challstrom, Rob Gilmore, Marida Hines, Audrey Maskery) in favor, 1 (Pat Klein) opposed. Adopted.
Next step: A draft RFP for fencing from the Dog Park Committee is expected for review in October.
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the Council Reports and post them on the website. Marida Hines seconded the motion. Discussion included:
- Proposed repaving on Ridge Road. Mayor Compton requested Councilor Darrell Anderson compose a list of all locations on roads in Town that need repairs.
- Follow-up on the Planning Commission recommendation to hire a Code Enforcement Officer. Mayor Compton will do so.
- The Annual Labor Day events, including why no one signed up for the Triathlon.
Vote: 6-0, approved as amended.
PC & HPC Alternate Members Update – Mayor Compton reported two residents have expressed interest in filling the PC alternate position but no one has come forth to fill the HPC alternate position.
Status of 107 Pine Avenue – There is nothing new to report on this item.
Posting Committee Meeting Minutes to the Website; Current & Archived – Currently, approved Committee minutes are sent to Kathy for archiving and some are posted on the town website (by Bill Saar). Marida Hines will work with Bill, and all Committee Minutes will be posted and maintained in an accessible archive.
Review of Open Meetings Questions with Town Attorney – Nothing new to report.
- Mayor Compton reported Board of Elections Supervisors Chair Meredith Horan has resigned. He will ask member Margo Cavanaugh to take her place.
- Mayor Compton reported the letter to Montgomery County about Railroad Street safety has been sent.
- Darrell Anderson reported the streetlight group is coming.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 10:20 PM.
TC REPORTS – September 2018
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – Darrell Anderson
Meetings: The regular monthly meeting was held August 21, 2018. The next regular meeting is scheduled for September 18, 2018. I will not be able to attend as I will be meeting my daughter in Memphis. If someone could fill in, I would swap out for meetings they may not be able to attend.
Issue to be Resolved:
During the recent review, public hearings, and Council action on various Ordinance and Resolutions, there is a glitch in timing of changes to the text between the Planning Commission and HPC. The problem is that the HPC will review Text #1, make recommendations to the Town Council but before the Town Council meeting, the Planning Commission makes recommendations on Text #1 that proceeds to the Town Council without the HPC having knowledge of those recommendations. When a public hearing is held at the Council meeting, the HPC is using an older version and does not feel they have had a chance to comment on what the Planning Commission proposes. This was especially true in the review and public hearings on Ordinances 2018-04 and 2018-05, which were significantly revised after HPC review.
This is just a matter of timing of meetings but should be relatively easy to compensate for if the HPC Chair and Planning Commission Chair keep each other in the loop on proposed recommendations/changes after their meetings. Because the HPC meets before the Planning Commission, they feel they never get to comment on the Planning Commission revisions.
Progress on contract for review of the Town’s Historic District Updating. The Phase I Final Report on architectural and cultural aspects was submitted to the Town in August. The full report may be viewed in the Council Room on the bottom shelf with HPC documents.
Master Plan. A discussion of the HPC involvement in the Master Plan is ongoing. Members have signed up or been assigned to work on specific sections.
Potential Change in Montgomery County Permitting Process:
In the past, if a resident was renovating the inside of their residence without impacting load-bearing walls, the Town did not require a permit. A recent case of a resident who did not need a Town permit because they only removed a non-load bearing closet wall to expand a bathroom, took their permit to Montgomery County and was told that any structural changes would need a Town permit. I spoke with Peter Nagrod to confirm this and the Planning Commission will pursue this with the County Permitting Office. Subsequent communication will come from the Planning Commission, but may impact the HPC.
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – Darrell Anderson
Montgomery County Parks was not able to schedule concentrated spraying in two sections of the meadow to control mile-a-minute and other invasive species due to the weather. They also identified a few other areas that should be treated.
STREET SIGN RESTORATION PROJECT – Darrell Anderson
Susan Van Nostrand held another gathering to produce more of the signs for this project. The 6 new signs produced last month were given to Steve for placement.
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Darrell Anderson
Repaving: The Council will need to decide on plans and costs available for repaving this fall. The previous report indicated that Steve and I reviewed potential repaving sites and both agreed that Ridge Road is the most in need of replacement. This should be discussed at the September Council meeting so a contract can be developed to secure bids.
Speed Hump Trial: Speed bumps have been installed at two places on Chestnut Road. Feedback was requested from Town residents in the August bulletin. So far, suggestions have been:
- Consider filling in holes at the edges of the roadways so smaller vehicles do not scrape the undersides of their cars when moving aside for larger vehicles. There a few places where this appears to be a concern.
- Hickory Road has been suggested as a second area for installation after the Chestnut Road trial. Suggested placement would be at Hickory and Oak Street and Hickory and Center Street.
- One rather related issue is the missing Stop Sign for traffic coming from the Washington Grove Lane end of Oak Street.
Lights: A few residents have contacted me about participation in a committee to review possible lighting changes in Town. I would like to meet with those interested in the next few weeks to begin background research and assignments.
PLANNING COMMISSION – Charlie Challstrom
- 3 Ridge Road – approved installation of the new 4-foot high fence.
- 203 and 205 Washington Grove Lane – applications received for open covered carports on adjacent properties; to be considered next month after authorizing ordinance is effective.
315 Grove Ave – Sale of Surplus Land: The PC has reviewed Jane Seegal’s request to purchase two parcels of Town-owned land on which portions of her home at 315 Grove Ave are constructed. The accompanying identification plat and description were prepared by Snider & Associates. The PC has determined: 1) the sale of the two parcels of Town-owned land will not create an additional building lot, and 2) public ownership of the two parcels of Town-owned land does not serve any present or foreseeable public use or function. To continue its review and evaluation, the PC used diagrams for this property retrieved from Town files, and confirmed vertical dimensions using the Town’s new laser measuring device. The PC has determined the information submitted is sufficient to document the dimensions and the current degree of non compliance as per the Zoning Ordinance, and as may be required for a building permit application for these portions. The PC recommends the Town Council introduce an ordinance authorizing conveyance of the Town owned land as requested by Jane Seegal, and set a date for the required public hearing in accordance with the Town’s Article XVII, Sale of Town Land.
MCCATHRAN HALL – Charlie Challstrom
Town Hall Generator: Consultation with FEMA’s contractor, Michael Baker International, has confirmed our Town Hall generator procurement does not qualify for FEMA hazard mitigation grant funding since the Town Hall does not meet FEMA’s criteria for a “critical facility”. Exploration also continues on possible funding assistance based on the Town Hall’s historic designation. The Town anticipates generator project approval in early October from the Maryland Historical Trust as holder of an historic easement for the Town Hall.
Code Enforcement Inspector: The PC has endorsed an updated Consulting Agreement listing priority work assignments for a Code Enforcement Inspector, e.g. inspections of existing buildings to evaluate compliance with zoning use regulations, and inspections of proposed work to evaluate compliance with zoning schedule of standards. The PC recommends selection of Douglas E. Lohmeyer, P.E. (Ret.) as the Code Enforcement Inspector for Washington Grove. Mr. Lohmeyer has decades of engineering and planning experience in Montgomery County, and currently serves as a consultant to eight other municipalities.
Master Plan Update: Work on proposed changes to the Master Plan continues by various groups and committees. The anticipated Master Plan schedule has been extended to accommodate the update and expansion of our National Register Historic District’s nomination. The Master Plan update will also reflect eight action items applicable to the Town from the County’s new Hazard Mitigation Plan, e.g. County DOT responsibility to restore and upgrade stormwater drainage under Railroad Street.
MONTGOMERY MUNICIPAL CABLE (MMC) – Charlie Challstrom
Nothing to report.
CONTRACTS – Rob Gilmore
I am working on the RFP document with input from the Dog Park Committee and the Mayor. The RFP will then be presented to the Town Council for its consideration.
DOG PARK – Rob Gilmore
The Dog Park Committee did not meet this past month. Committee chairs Christine Dibble and Mary Warfield and I have continued to work on the Dog Park draft RFP to be presented to the Town Council.
WOODS – Rob Gilmore
The Woods Committee met on September 4. The Committee further discussed suggested revisions to the 2009 Master Plan germane to the East and West Woods including a joint discussion with the Lake Committee to extend our boundary fence to enclose and protect Maple Lake Spring. The Committee also discussed submitting a request to the Planning Commission to create an FP zone for the East and West Woods as a “Forest Preserve,” as described in the Master Plan and as is more consistent with the historic views and identification of the Woods. The Committee will plan to finalize and transmit comments to the Planning Commission by the extended deadline of Oct. 1.
The Committee also discussed the ongoing efforts to combat invasive plant species including a review of the recent emergency efforts approved by the Mayor and Town Council to use grass-specific herbicide treatment for Wavyleaf Basket Grass (WBG) growth in the West Woods. The Committee reviewed the targeted effort by the Mayor, the Committee, and several town volunteers to manually remove WBG along portions of the West Woods walking trail. The Committee discussed its intention to present an overview of the Forest Restoration plan to the Town Council at the October meeting. The Committee also intends to conduct an informational town meeting to review the three-pronged approach to Forest Restoration to include control of non-native invasive plants, deer population control (under the auspices of the Montgomery County Deer Management Program) and replanting of native trees to restore forest canopy.
The next Committee meeting is scheduled for October 1.
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – Rob Gilmore
Nothing to report.
WEBSITE – Marida Hines
NOTE – THIS IS REVISED FROM THE REPORT I SUBMITTED LAST MONTH WHICH DID NOT GET USED
In addition to updates regularly posted on meeting dates, agendas, and minutes, the website has been updated to reflect new activity. This included:
Christine Dibble and our webmaster Bill Saar continue to augment information on the Dog Park Committee page
A draft web page has been added for the Communications Working Group and will go live in the next few weeks. It will explain the purpose of the group and house meeting minutes.
Draft Town Council meeting minutes are now being posted on the website 7 – 10 days following Council meetings to allow residents to learn about Council activities in time to get involved in subsequent meetings.
RECREATION – Marida Hines
The Recreation Committee met on August 22. The next meeting is scheduled for October 17.
This year’s Labor Day activities were not well attended and the triathlon was cancelled because no one signed up. This is potentially due to the extreme heat, or because school started this week this year, and residents may have been on vacation through the holiday. However, this is concerning as the events involve a lot of volunteer time. The Committee will be having discussions to further understand issues and solutions.
Bluestober is scheduled for Saturday, October 13 and will feature South Carolina’s Shrimp City Slim and his band, with Back Porch Blues opening up.
COMMUNICATIONS WORK GROUP – Marida Hines
The Communications Group met on August 6. In attendance were Christine Dibble, Betsy Klinger, Kathy Evans and Marilyn Frey. The group edited the draft survey that will be used to gauge residents’ preferences for communications, to ensure it is very clear and understandable and will provide the Group with next steps.
The survey is scheduled to be sent shortly now that the summer lull is over and residents are back from vacations.
The next meeting is scheduled for mid-September.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS COMMITTEE – Pat Klein
The EPC met on August 23, 2018 to continue updates and discussions on the following topics.
Town Hall Generator: The Town Council voted to award the contract to Generating Power LLC for a 22-kilowatt Generac generator and signed a contract on August 20th. A request has been sent to the Maryland Historic Trust for project approval including a diagram of the proposed generator location and a description of the surrounding sound fence (shingled to match the Town Hall). The EPC is pleased to have facilitated this town infrastructure project which was recommended in the June 2016 Emergency Preparedness Task Force Final Report.
Streetlight for Railroad Street: Montgomery County (MC) DOT confirmed receipt of the Town’s request for installation of a streetlight on Railroad Street. They will work with Pepco on a cost and design for this streetlight, and the installation may take 3 months or more.
Streetlights for Town: The EPC discussed town safety concerns for our aging streetlights noting that parts for these streetlight fixtures are no longer available. The EPC is interested in assisting with the Town’s exploration of streetlight options, working with Pepco and other jurisdictions to identify LED installations to view and evaluate.
County Hazard Mitigation Planning: EPC members will attend a MC public meeting on Sept 4th to listen to updates on the draft Hazard Mitigation Plan. This draft version may include proposed County action to restore and upgrade stormwater drainage under Railroad Street to reduce hazards of standing water in Morgan Park.
Master Plan Update: The EPC will prepare their final draft for input to the 2019 Master Plan to include updates on the Town Hall generator installation and send to the Master Plan coordinator for Planning Commission review.
Neighborhood Watch: A notice will be posted in the Town Bulletin to invite residents to help the Committee revive this effort.
Risk Management Role for EPC: A copy of the new draft “Town of Washington Grove Risk Management and Safety Procedures” was distributed to EPC members for their review as a risk management committee for the Town. This document includes risk management, accident investigation procedures, driver training and accident prevention, emergency plans, semi-annual inspections, and a collection of forms; and was prepared using information from the Local Government Insurance Trust (LGIT), the Town’s liability and property insurance carrier.
The next EPC meeting will be on September 27, 2018.
MAPLE LAKE – Pat Klein
The Lake Committee met on August 16, 2018 to discuss recent activities and updates.
Lake Regulation Changes: The Town Council approved the following proposed changes at their August 13th meeting: (1) specified minimum (8) and maximum (40) size for private parties (not applicable for Town functions.), and (2) specified that extra lifeguards are needed for more than 15 people. These changes will be posted on the Town web site.
Lake water quality testing: The monthly test report showed very high E.coli levels (517.2 MPN/100ml) which the Water Testing Labs suggested may have resulted from runoffs due to the heavy rains. The Committee chair requested follow-up testing. Results of those follow-up samples (collected on 8/20) submitted from the lake bridge and the dock areas were within normal range.
Lifeguards and Swimming Lessons: Swimming season continues through Labor Day Sept. 4th; thereafter the lake will be available year around but without lifeguards present. A message in the Town Bulletin and at the Lake will be posted “Swim At Your Own Risk”. Thanks to all the Lifeguards and Swim Instructor for a great 2018 season!
Master Plan Review: The Committee reviewed sections about the Lake in the 2009 Master Plan and will submit suggested revisions to the MP Coordinator. The section on Maple Lake Spring will be discussed with the Woods Committee to consider any combined revisions and joint future activities for its restoration.
The Committee is planning to drain the lake in the Fall to remove any bikes or obstacles that may be there, and to review guidelines for trimming weeds around the edge of the Lake.
The next Lake Committee meeting will be on September 20, 2018.
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION – Audrey Maskery
The 2019 DRAFT Master Plan Sections applicable to Forestry and Beautification were reviewed during the August meeting. In section 1.3 the Committee agrees with the current draft changes, especially removing the sentence “Park sites are not within the Forest Preserve.” Once the Local Zoning Map Amendment is finalized assigning FR zoning to the parcel delineated on the 2017 East Woods Plat of Survey, both Zoe Wadsworth Park and a portion of Woodward Park will be in the new FR Zone.
F&B also agrees with the draft changes under the Parks section. These reflect work now complete.
Section 5.1 Language should be changed to reflect the completion of work done by the F&B Committee in coordination with Town Maintenance on the former Community Gardens.
Section 6.1.2 Town Trees and Arboretum. Both the introduction and recommendations need to be changed to reflect current reality. The 2006 Urban Forest Plan will be reviewed by F&B as it applies to the 2019 Master Plan. New language covering control of invasive plants is also needed.
Section 6.2.2 Brown Street Corridor. F&B has minor suggestions for this section. We expect the storm water management recommendation will be covered by John McClelland’s review of storm water management.
MAINTENANCE – Audrey Maskery
The mowing of avenues, parks, and trimming of roadsides continued throughout August. Removed of tree that fell at Maple Lake and brush that dropped in parks after summer storm, taken to the dump.
Replaced lock on lake gate. Cleaned weeds and debris out of Brown Street sediment pond in preparation for County inspection.
Hauled and spread 8 loads of dirt to sink hole on Chestnut Avenue.
Installed two sets of speed bumps on Chestnut Road at request of Town Council.
Checked on report of an East Woods tree had fallen in a residential yard on Brucar Court, resident not at home at time.
MEMORIALS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report.
PLAYGROUNDS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report.
INTERGOVERNMENTAL – John Compton & Joli McCathran
Joli McCathran has been appointed to the Legislative Committee of the Maryland Municipal League, which will be developing and then lobbying for the League’s legislative agenda for the 2019 legislative session.