14 September 2020 | Approved: 12 October 2020
TC REPORT – September 2020 – Approved: 14 September 2020
The unprecedented emergency health crisis poses a challenge to all – individually and collectively. To protect ourselves and do our part to impede the spread of the coronavirus and COVID -19 disease, the Regular Meeting of the Town Council was held remotely via ZOOM Video Conferencing. The meeting was recorded.
Mayor John Compton called the regular meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Councilors Darrell Anderson, Charlie Challstrom, David Cosson, Marida Hines, Patty Klein, and Gray Yachup. Also in attendance were Treasurer Mary Challstrom and residents Georgette Cole, Christine Dibble, Marc Hansen, Sarah Harris, Jenn Hix, John Hutchinson, Dennis Kane, Jeff McCrehan, Jean Moyer, Barbara Raimondo, Donna Shriner, and HPC Representative Mimi Styles. Additional residents who were in attendance for part of the meeting were: Mimi Bolotin, Bob Booher, Jay Everhart, Liz Everhart, Betsy Klinger, Joan Mahaffey, and Audrey Maskery.
Approval of Agenda:
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the agenda. Darrell Anderson seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0, approved as presented.
Christine Dibble addressed the crematorium proposed for operation in Gaithersburg adjacent to the DeVol Funeral Home at 10 East Deer Park Drive. She and residents in the vicinity of the site are concerned with potential environmental impacts, and cited the apparent lack of wider notice to nearby residents and municipalities. Christine would like the Mayor and Council to request that the City of Gaithersburg provide better notice of projects that are proposed within two (2) miles of the Town of Washington Grove. After a brief discussion during which some Councilors also expressed concern and thanked Christine for her proposal, she was encouraged to provide a draft letter requesting such notice for consideration by the Mayor and Town Council.
Approval of Minutes:
Darrell Anderson moved to approve the August 10, 2020 Town Council Meeting Minutes. Gray Yachup seconded the motion. Mayor Compton noted the Minutes did not include extensive revisions proposed by Councilor Klein to record of the discussion of the Maple Lake Policy for Assessment and Management of Water Quality. He reviewed past discussion and consensus on the level of detail appropriate to record in Town Council meeting minutes. He also suggested that individual monthly Council Reports might be an appropriate place for additional details or commentary by Councilors on Council discussions. The ensuing discussion focused on revision of the August Minutes after Councilor Klein expressed concern that worthwhile language was still being omitted from the record. Charlie Challstrom called the question. In the interest of achieving consensus and time, Mayor Compton agreed to work with the Councilor Klein and the Town Clerk on potential amendment of the August Minutes for consideration in October.
Vote: 6-0, approved, as distributed
Mayor Compton announced the following:
- Nov. 3 Voting Update – McCathran Hall will not be used as a polling place this year. The State and County will use larger venues such as Bohrer Park instead.
- Use of McCathran Hall for Filming Holiday Show – A few residents are willing to put together a virtual Holiday Show and would like to have the use of McCathran Hall for recording. There was a discussion about whether the Town Council needed to be included in the approving of this use, Town Charter requirements, whether the Town should accommodate those who are willing to carry this Town tradition forward despite the current COVID-19 conditions, and making sure cleaning and sanitation are adequate,.
- Swing Time Big Band Rehearsal Outside McCathran Hall – Mayor Compton reported the August rehearsal was greatly appreciated by residents and band members. He explained the piano was used, a few used the bathroom, and some chairs were also used. Cleaning precautions were taken to the “letter of the law.” They would like to have another rehearsal on Thursday, September 17, 2020. The Council discussed resident notification and possible side effects of that action and personal responsibility. Mayor Compton will send out a Grove Alert about the rehearsal with an explanation that this is a rehearsal NOT a concert. Social distancing, mask, and all other protocols will be observed.
- Salt Barn Update – Mayor Compton has talked with County Executive Marc Elrich and Councilman Sydney Katz about the building constructed being taller that originally proposed (~60 feet vs. ~40 feet) and having a different, more industrial roof line. Mr. Elrich will investigate with the Department of General Services and the Planning Board and get back to Mayor Compton for further discussion, including remedies if appropriate.
- Washington Grove Bikeways Connector Study Update – In March, the MCDOT study of three alternative multi-use pathway routes to connect the Town to the County Bikeways system at Crabbs Branch Way began in earnest following input from residents. Progress has been slower than planned due to the epidemic, but the report from the study contractor responsible for assessing traffic and land impacts is expected to be submitted to them by September. Subsequently, an update will be distributed to the public concerning the next phase for the study.
- WSSC Sewer Project Status – The work along Ridge Road is continuing. Manholes still need to be done. A final Grove Avenue walk-through will take place on Tuesday morning September 15th to discuss impacts on vegetation. Mayor Compton noted the Town agreed to the unfortunate removal of two (2) large Silver Maples at Oak and Ridge. Forestry and Beautification will supervise the planting of replacement trees in that area.
- Mayor Compton reported Kathie Evans’ efforts to help the Capital Area Food Bank, discussed in August, netted $7,600.00
Treasurers Report 2020-August
Darrell Anderson moved acceptance of the August 2020 Treasurer’s Report. Gray Yachup seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0, accepted.
Resolution 2020-12 – Authorizing Treasurer to Invest Funds at Sandy Spring Bank:
Mayor Compton explained the purpose of this resolution was to authorize Treasurer Mary Challstrom to move some funds from the MLGIP account to Sandy Spring Bank as she deems appropriate where they will be insured by the FDIC and she can get a better interest rate. Sandy Spring Bank requires she be authorized to do so in the Town Council Minutes. Darrell Anderson moved to introduce Resolution 2020-12. Patty Klein seconded the motion.
Patty Klein moved to adopt Resolution 2020-12. Charlie Challstrom seconded the motion.
Vote: 6-0, as presented.
Introduction of Town Treasurer-in-Training Jean Moyer:
Mayor Compton introduced Jean Moyer to the Town Council whom he explained has agreed to fill the position of Town Treasurer upon retirement of Mary Challstrom next June. Jean has agreed to “shadow” Mary until then to become familiar with the duties of the Treasurer. She was welcomed by the Town Council.
Request to Remove Certain Restrictive Covenants Originating from the Sale of Property by the Town from the Deed for 201 Chestnut Street owned by Marc and Peggy Hansen – Covenants Now Superceded by Town Zoning Ordinances and a Covenant Imposing Illegal Racial Discrimination:
Discussion. At Mayor Compton’s request, Charlie Challstrom summarized this matter. In 1950 the Town imposed three (3) restrictive covenants in the Deed for 201 Chestnut Avenue and in 1978 a fourth restrictive covenant was added to the Deed in connection with the sale of additional Town land. Property owners Marc and Peggy Hansen are requesting removal of these covenants from their Deed because they are racially restrictive, legally unenforceable, morally offensive, and impose development restrictions. The traffic safety easement at Oak Street and Chestnut Road continues to serve a public interest therefore, the property owners are not asking the Town to relinquish that easement. Councilor Challstrom presented his research into the history of the property covenants. Mayor Compton asked whether deeds in other areas of Town may have where similar covenants (Maple Rd. and McCauley Street). Property owner Marc Hansen thanked the Mayor and Town Council (especially Charlie Challstrom) for their work and re-iterated that the 25-foot restrictive covenant no longer serves a benefit to the Town. Mayor Compton supported sending the easement request to the Planning Commission for evaluation and recommendation. He would also like to see the Commission review whether properties (for example on Chestnut Avenue) have similar covenants. There was additional discussion about the following:
- 25-foot restrictive covenant intended to ensure fire department access and may no longer be necessary.
- Master Plan recommendations in this regard on the road right-of way.
- HPC recommendations including viewscape and historic integrity.
- Dealing with Marc and Peggy’s request now and other similar strips of land later.
- Land ownership (private vs. Town)
- Consulting Town attorney Suellen Ferguson on how to legally remove the Covenants.
Darrell Anderson moved to approve removing the three (3) restrictive covenants from 1950 and to request consult the Town Attorney on how to accomplish this in a way removal appears in land record searches. Charlie Challstrom seconded the motion.
Vote: 5-0 (Patty Klein being absent for the vote).
Request to Remove the 25-foot Restrictive Covenant Along Chestnut Road Originating from the Sale of Property by the Town from the Deed for 201 Chestnut Avenue Owned by Marc and Peggy Hansen:
See discussion in previous item.
Action: On this request to remove the restrictive covenant, the Planning Commission was asked to review the potential consequences and make recommendations to the Town Council.
Bikeways Connection to Washington Grove – Special Town Meeting for the Purpose of Advising the Town Council Support for a Shared-use Pathway Connection to Crabbs Branch Way:
Mayor Compton reported the evaluation of the proposed connections by MCDOT is progressing (see Mayor’s Announcements above). The proposed connections are:
- Crabbs Branch Way through the Conservation Meadow to Ridge Road.
- Crabbs Branch Way through the woods to the end of Brown Street.
- Crabbs Branch Way on the DOT property buffer parallel to Brown Street, either:
- Terminating at the end of Brown Street.
- Terminating at Railroad Street.
There was a lengthy discussion about whether to call another Special Town Meeting to provide additional input to the Town Council on the preferred location and opposition to any bikeway connection. Attending residents and Council member expressed their opinions. It was noted that this connection has been included in the Town Master Plan for many years, and the importance of the Master Plan as a guidance tool was also discussed and supported. Others strongly support a connection but do not want it to go on Brown Street extended. Donna Shriner and Dennis Kane (503 Brown Street) requested to go on record as strongly supporting this path including the Brown Street extended (500 block) option. Most felt the Town should wait for the study to be completed before going forward with a meeting.
Action: The Town Council took no action to call a Special Town Meeting at this time.
Town Council Reports:
Charlie Challstrom moved to accept the Council Reports for posting on the website. Darrell Anderson seconded the motion. There was a discussion about new rules for use of the Town forests proposed by the Woods Committee. The rules could be formalized by the Town Council using the current process of adopting policies and procedures by Resolution, similar to regulations for McCathran Hall and Woodward Park. However, it was suggested an Ordinance would be necessary to enable enforcement of a prohibition on removal/theft of artifacts from the woods. Vote: 5-0, Town Council Reports approved as presented.
Joan Mahaffey, concerned that an increasing number of political signs might be displayed on Town land, noted residents should be sure they are on private land. She requested a reminder of this be included in the October Town Bulletin. Councilor Anderson noted a recent court ruling that struck down restrictions on the content of signage on private property.
Action: The Clerk will find appropriate language to include in the October Bulletin.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 10:05 p.m.
Kathryn L. Lehman
TC REPORTS – Month 2020
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – Darrell Anderson
The HPC held a virtual meeting on August18; the next meeting will be held on September 15 at 7:30 pm by virtual means.
The HPC discussed the Preliminary Review of 328 Ridge Road (Golden); a permit has not been submitted. The discussion involved recommendations made by the HPC to the owner. Most of these were included and the HPC felt the resulting design is now compatible with the neighboring houses and the Town.
A discussion of modifications to the Public Ways Permit Application and the accompanying directions that would better include submission requirements and the HPC review of applications. After discussion and revisions, the HPC approved forwarding it to Georgette Cole of the Planning Commission. The HPC will develop a list of the types of work that would likely be covered by the permit, and a map of the Town showing associated features that could be impacted by work.
Printing of the documents for the Town’s National Historic Register nomination have been completed and copies distributed. There are copies in the Town Office.
The HPC is collecting examples of 5G ordinances and information from other jurisdictions in preparation for possible fine-tuning of the Town Ordinance regulating the impending 5G telecommunications antenna systems. The HPC will be participating in a Town group to revise our ordinance and to develop potential plans to address Town needs when 5G arrives.
The HPC will be working with the Planning Commission on revisions to the Accessory Dwelling Units ordinance(s) for a new Master Plan section directed by the State to cover housing.
The HPC will generate a letter of protest regarding the inappropriate scale and design of the second salt barn, and the lack of consideration for the impacts on the Historic District. It was suggested that we provide a drawing showing the submitted design superimposed on the design in the construction documents.
The Lighting Committee (LC) held a virtual meeting on August 26. The September meeting has been canceled (see discussion below).
The signature mission of the LC was to investigate and implement the conversion of Town streetlights from the existing 95 induction streetlamps to LED streetlamps. With the signed agreement with PEPCO, this mission has been completed, although the physical replacement has not been completed. We still will have some sodium vapors lights that need to be converted, but these will have to have changes to the light fixtures.
Additional items in the LC mission included what type of lighting fixtures will be needed as the current ones need replacement; what type of lighting can be used for walkways; and, how to maintain our lighting and poles that are acceptable to residents.
The LC had a long discussion about whether they should continue, given that the remaining lighting questions will not be able to be answered until PEPCO releases its new tariff guidance. There is no clear timeline for this, and it is unknown what impact this will have on the Town. Given the uncertainty, and the potential length of time before answers are clear, LC members had varying ideas about the future participation of the LC. It was decided to meet every four months (January, May, and September) or until new information on PEPCO’s tariff plan is known.
Regularly string-trimmed and cut grass around Town, including the field. Cut brush along Railroad Street and other areas of Town. Made trips to the County dump when necessary. Completed paperwork as required.
Worked on the clay courts, including spraying for weeds on the courts. Went to Applied Technologies to get a new gear for the tennis court roller and fixed the roller.
Went to Gaithersburg Shell to get gas. Went to Home Depot to pick up vinyl fencing for the Woods Group. Went to Rippeon Equipment to purchase a new battery for the John Deere mower.
Met Joan & Patty in the East Woods (tree down on the path). Cut the tree and removed brush.
Checked batteries in the lake cameras.
Met with Guardian Fire for quarterly inspection at Town Hall. Cleaned the sprinkler system and checked furnace filters at Town Hall. Checked emergency lights in Town Hall.
Attended meeting with WSSC & others regarding work on Ridge Road. Met with WSSC about gravel at 112-114 along Ridge Road after work began. Helped Potomac Refuge pick up trash on Ridge Road (WSSC had the road blocked doing sewer work). Checked on WSSC work on Ridge Road.
Cleaned the area for delivery of wood chips at the shop. Received wood chips and worked in the playground putting down weed cloth & new wood chips around the “tot lot.”
Went to Graingers to pick up a new motor for the shop compressor.
Met with Myers & Laws to discuss future tree work.
Cut up trees fallen on the lake fence & removed down trees out of the ditch alongside the lake.
Met with Audrey & Charlie at 414 Center Street to review tree ownership.
Put up flags for the holiday weekend.
Took new recycle bin to 501 Brown Street.
Worked on installing memorial plaque donated for park bench.
On rainy days, worked in the maintenance shop.
PLANNING COMMISSION – Charlie Challstrom
Master Plan 2020 Work Sessions – A master plan work session was held on August 19 to review the updated submissions for Section 4.5 (Streetlights/Walkways) and Section 10, (Interjurisdictional Issues). Work also continued on the draft “Housing” section to develop Town policy promoting more affordable housing and diversity in the community. The draft housing-related recommendations include: expand the diversity of the Town’s residents; sustain the Town’s historic integrity and support retention of historic structures; reduce the number of long-term vacant homes; support expansion of licensed room and home rentals; encourage compatible infill subdivisions; reform parking requirements with linkages to rentals and subdivisions; and introduce a residential component in the commercial zone. The next PC work session is scheduled for September 16.
Public Ways and Property (PW&P) Permit – The PC has adopted updated rules contained in the “Information for Applicants for a PW&P Permit” and the “Application for PW&P Permit” based on recommendations received from the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) and the Forestry and Beautification Committee. These updates include required listing of any proposed work disturbances to trees or plants, or to features of potential interest to historic preservation, along with planned protection and remediation measures. Based on recent experiences and lessons learned regarding driveway aprons, the PC endorsed replicating the application timing, review, and notification processes for PW&P permits as already in place for Town building permits. The PC also noted a need for outreach to Town residents and to utilities regarding the PW&P permit requirements for any excavating or other work in the public ways or on Town property, including driveway aprons, drainage culverts, pipelines, and communications facilities.
Zoning Text Amendment for Accessory Buildings – Recently, the owner of a property in the RR-2 zone requested permission to locate a shed on his property, where the total length of his property is less than 62 feet. This situation called into question the 60-foot front minimum setback requirement for an accessory building which prohibits locating a shed anywhere on this property. The PC has drafted an application for a zoning text amendment for the RR-2 zone to modify the front minimum setback requirements for accessory buildings to match the front minimum setback requirement of the other zones. An exception for RR-2 Zone small lots is also proposed: in the event that meeting both front and rear setback results in practical difficulty due to the lot size, the PC can allow the front minimum setback to be one half the distance between the front and rear lot lines. This Zoning Text Amendment has been copied to the HPC for review and will be submitted to the Town Council in October.
Projects Requiring Permits – The PC discussed some recent projects done without a required permit. These include a porch on Brown Street, a porch and ramp on Ridge Road, a concrete driveway apron on Ridge Road, and a shed along Johnson Alley. Affected property owners are being contacted to help explain the permit requirements, and at least one permit application has been submitted thus far.
MCCATHRAN HALL – Charlie Challstrom
McCathran Hall will not be used for voting in November. For Montgomery County voters, there will be 11 Early Voting Centers for voting from October 26 thru November 2, and the closest is the Activity Center at Bohrer Park. There will be 28 Election Day Vote Centers for voting on November 3, and the closest is Gaithersburg High School. To avoid lines, residents are advised to request an Absentee Ballot (“Mail-In Ballot”) and then vote by Mail or Drop Box. Official Ballot Drop Boxes are targeted for installation by October 1 at the Early Voting Centers. Official Ballot Drop Boxes will also be installed at the Election Day Vote Centers.
MONTGOMERY MUNICIPAL CABLE (MMC) – Charlie Challstrom
This past month, MMC launched a new program called The Creative Side, hosted by Albert Myers, to explore and celebrate the talent in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area. The first episode of this new program featured Landon Philip, a talented musician who lives in Washington Grove. Landon writes, records, and produces music in his attic bedroom. He composes and performs all the instruments which allows him to exercise both his love for songwriting and performing, as well as his fascination with audio engineering.
MMC is a government access station designed to increase community awareness among the citizens of the county by broadcasting municipal events, educational programs and interviews with elected officials and other noteworthy individuals. You can find MMC on Channel 16 on Comcast, Verizon and RCN every evening, and on YouTube for streaming from MMC video archives. MMC is able to provide programming due to the continued support from the municipalities within the county.
CENSUS – Charlie Challstrom
As of September 5th, 85 % of Washington Grove households have self-responded to the Census. With this response rate, the Town ranks 14th out of 156 municipalities in Maryland. The remaining households in Washington Grove are being visited by Census enumerators. Residents can still respond online at 2020census.gov or by phone at 844 330 2020.
CONTRACTS – Dave Cosson
Nothing to report
WOODS – Dave Cosson
The Committee heard from the HPC Chairman regarding the need for coordination in developing policies on search and removal of archeological and cultural artifacts and maintenance of the natural condition of the Woods , given the HPC’s expertise and the Woods description as a “defining element” in the Town’s historic designation. Further, the woods policies are a significant input into the sustainability section of the Town Master Plan revisions underway.
The Committee discussed the desirability of Woods policies that are carbon neutral except in unusual circumstances where health and safety are involved, such as fire safety.
Representatives of the Bow Hunting Fire Fighters of Maryland (BHFFMD) walked with Woods Committee representatives through their prospective locations in the East and West Woods. The Maryland Bow Hunting Season runs from September 11, 2020 until January 31, 2021.
IPC has sprayed both trail edges and some off-trail locations to control non-native invasive species.
New signs are planned for the Woods for both information on rules and to identify trail names and locations. Rules to be included on signs could include requests to stay on marked trails, prohibit bike riding and removal of cultural or archeological artifacts. To create authority for such prohibitions, a draft ordinance was discussed. It will be coordinated with the HPC, which meets after the Council and will brought to the Council for introduction at the October meeting.
The Committee is seeking town residents’ input on a name for a currently unnamed trail. The Committee also discussed possible solutions for portions of trails in the woods that are chronically wet, especially the first part of Maple north of Center Street. A short stretch of brown gravel could provide a short-term solution. Some reconfiguration of the slope down the Challstrom trail from McCauley St. is planned for late Fall to reduce trail erosion and make the trail more passable after rainstorms.
STORMWATER MANAGEMENT – Dave Cosson
The Committee met on August 11 and continued to update its list of Town drainage issue. A stream in the West Woods drains into Kelly Park and formerly went through a culvert under a gravel path. When the culver was damaged, Gaithersburg crews filed in the upstream side so that water now backs up into the Town’s woods. Contact will be attempted with the city. (Subsequently the Gaithersburg stormwater manager replied that replacing the culvert is one of the projects to be performed by a contractor in the near future. The manager was very helpful and offered to elevate the priority of that project if there is evidence of significant flooding or damage.) Also discussed was the need to be able to recreate the swales along Grove Ave. after the WSSC work there.
The Committee worked with Town Maintenance to create a digital flow map of the Town. Significant effort has gone into the intersection of Maple Ave. and Center Street where revised water flow is in process in coordination with the F&B Committee. Other areas of interest include Center Street at Washington Grove Lane where Town Maintenance will be making modification to improve flow.
The Committee discussed the potential for obtaining FEMA grants to finance drainage improvements, as well as some County programs.
The Committee was advised that stormwater management will be included in the sustainability section of the current Master Plan draft.
September 8 meeting
At the request of a resident, a problem with drainage at one side of The Circle was added to the list of drainage issues.
Town Maintenance reported that work has commenced on improving water flow down Center Street where it meets Washington Grove Lane.
The County DOT forwarded the Mayor’s request for resolution of the inadequate and often blocked pipe under Railroad Street to another County office and no reply has been received. The Committee will follow up.
The Committee will alert the Council to a potential request to retain a professional grant writer to apply for FEMA funding to aid Town stormwater improvements. Also, it is considering and RFP for further improvements in the West Woods.
COMMUNICATIONS WORK GROUP – Marida Hines
Christine Dibble will be calling a meeting of the Communications Working Group shortly.
DOG PARK – Marida Hines
The Dog Park Committee met on August 26, 2020. In attendance were Mimi Bolotin, Christine Dibble, Marida Hines, Kathy Lehman, Caryn McLaine, Marisel Schank, Mary Warfield, and Missy Yachup.
A status report on action items determined that since the last meeting, all have been addressed and the Dog Park fence has been constructed, vegetation cleared, seating and signage arranged, a weedwhacker purchased and the Dog Park application posted on the website. As of August 26, 2020, twenty residents have registered their dogs.
The Committee also reviewed the draft Charter, Bylaws, and Rules of Governance document and made some changes for clarification purposes. The final approved version is available at https://washingtongrovemd.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/DPC-Charter-Bylaws-Rules-Governance.pdf.
Several ideas were floated for increasing usage of the Dog Park, including a “Dogs of Washington Grove” web page that will be useful to residents seeking playdate partners for their dogs and identify any dogs seen running loose in Town. In addition, DPC members will contact new Town residents to alert them to the location of the Dog Spot and, if possible, the registration form should be added to the Welcome Packet given to new residents. The registration form was also included in the September Town Bulletin.
Finally, a signup sheet has been created and populated with volunteers who will conduct monthly inspections and clean-up of the Dog Spot.
Minutes from the meeting are available on the Washington Grove website at https://washingtongrovemd.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf_minutes/DPC-2020-08-26-Agenda-Minutes.pdf
RECREATION – Marida Hines
The next meeting of the Recreation Committee is Wednesday, September 16, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend this virtual meeting via ZOOM.
As previously announced, Labor Day Games did not take place for safety reasons related to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Rec Committee continues to brainstorm on creative ways to promote community through virtual or socially distant events in the Fall.
The Holiday Show is proceeding with the boundless energy and creativity of Judy Mroczka, Marilynn Frey, and friends. They are seeking volunteers and a notice has appeared in the Town Bulletin. The show will be livestreamed on December 12 by Montgomery Municipal Cable. Details on safe, socially distant filming are being worked out.
WEBSITE – Marida Hines
Routine maintenance and content updates continue.
At the urging of the EPC, a “What to do if you test positive for Covid-19” page was created at https://washingtongrovemd.org/whats-happening/alerts/grove-alert/what-to-do-if-a-member-of-your-household-tests-positive-for-covid-19/ and a banner linking to it was placed on the homepage.
At the EPC meeting on August 27, Marida Hines was pressed on ongoing issues with the website, including a detailed list of content issues already shared by the EPC. She reported out that a plan, collaboratively created by Marida Hines, Charlie Challstrom, and Mayor Compton, had already been sent to the Town webmaster requesting ideas for solving high-level issues on content findability.
Following the meeting this plan and the detailed website issues flagged by the EPC were incorporated into a master document that was shared with the EPC chair, the Mayor, and the Communications Working Group chair and hopefully can serve as a guidance document for further action.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS & SAFETY COMMITTEE – Pat Klein
The EPSC met on August 27th to discuss the following topics.
Ideas for Town website improvements/ Coordination with Communications Committee: Councilor Marida Hines was an invited guest for discussion on ideas for Town website improvements. This has been a recurring communication concern for EPSC and is being re-emphasized relevant to posting timely COVID19 pandemic and other urgent information on the Town website for easy resident access. The town should explore improvements to both web design and content, along with more efficient processes to update content, especially in times of emergencies or disasters. EPSC suggested reviewing other municipal websites for ideas and best practices. Councilor Cosson (EPSC liaison) has reviewed the Town’s webpages and documented needed updates and corrections. Councilor Hines will reach out to the Communications Committee and other town volunteers to recruit assistance for website improvements. The EPSC also recommended the Town Council to consider contracting for web services.
COVID-19 Updates: Committee members noted that there have been recent positive cases of COVID-19 reported in Town residents, and it is critically important for Town officials to apply consistent State/County COVID-related restrictions to include limits on social events. Members will prepare a draft Town Resolution to govern the use of McCathran Hall during the pandemic, including capacity limits and cleaning protocols. EPSC will continue to communicate relevant guidance and/or links to State/County pandemic information and resources.
Maple Lake Water Quality Assessment Updates: Committee members noted that the Lake Committee is working on designing its sanitation survey protocols as required by state regulations and a Town resolution, and we are happy to provide any input or assistance before the Lake reopens next spring.
Traffic Safety: EPSC acknowledged the receipt of a letter from County DOT in response to a June 4 letter from the Mayor regarding several traffic safety issues. While the County response is a positive first step, the committee believes that some of the County’s proposed solutions to traffic issues are not sufficient. The Committee will draft a response for the Mayor and TC to consider. EPSC also noted that a tracker trailer truck recently got stuck trying to cross the humpback bridge, and recommends the Mayor/Town Council to request more prominent signage in the vicinity and to consider a meeting with the County DOT official on site to discuss the issues in-person.
The next EPSC meeting will be on September 24, 2020.
MAPLE LAKE – Pat Klein
The Lake Committee met on August 21st and discussed the following topics.
Lake Water Quality Assessment Program: The EPSC has recommended the Town to develop, conduct, and document an annual sanitary survey of Maple Lake as described in the Town’s new Resolution 2020-09: “Maple Lake Policy for Assessment and Management of Water Quality” (WQM) which became effective 06/08/2020. The Town also must be in compliance with MD Environmental Code 9-321.2 “Closed swimming lake regulations” (June 2016) which granted the Town responsibility for maintaining Maple Lake (as a closed swimming lake) and establishing a policy to assess and monitor the water quality of the Lake. The policy must be consistent with COMAR 26.08.09 subparts (06), (07), and (08). http://www.dsd.state.md.us/comar/subtitle_chapters/26_Chapters.aspx#Subtitle08
EPSC provided several suggestions for the sanitary survey procedure. A few Lake Committee members volunteered to help develop the survey template. Sanitary survey reports will be kept on file in the Town office. Biweekly water quality testing for both Enterococci and E. coli will continue until the Lake closes on September 8, 2020. Unfortunately, the contracted lab omitted the Enterococci test on August 17th but will test for both bacterial indicators in the next sampling cycle (August 31st).
Native snapping turtle in Maple Lake: On August 9th, a town resident was bitten by a snapping turtle in the lower leg while wading in the shallow lake edge along the back perimeter near the overhanging tree limbs and bubbler. Lifeguards provided immediate first aid and the resident drove herself to a local medical care facility. The consensus of lake users is that there is reduced human activity in the Lake this season (no diving board, dock closed, fewer swimmers, etc), which has allowed the pond and snapping turtles to explore a larger lake area to ‘call their own.” The Committee discussed whether the snapping turtle could be removed but state (DNR) laws restrict such capture and removal activities. Any efforts to remove are also limited to relocation to suitable habitat within a 2-mile distance of the Lake. The Committee decided not to pursue removal of the snapping turtle and to post alerting signs for swimmers along the beach area for the remainder of the season. Next season may see resumed human activity in the Lake which should discourage turtles from proximity to swimmers. Additional native wildlife educational materials could be provided to town residents.
Lifeguards received a refresher class to review responsibilities, protocols, and remaining season schedule. One lifeguard tested positive for SARS-CoV2 but the epidemiology timeline apparently occurred a week after his last work shift at the Lake.
Several maintenance items mentioned include fence repairs (getting quotes) and replaced pump timer.
The next Lake Committee meeting will be held on September 17, 2020.
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION (Including Memorials) – Gray Yachup
The Forestry and Beautification Committee held a virtual meeting on August 12th to discuss future planting. It was decided that all planting along Grove Avenue will be halted until the spring due to the uncertainty of WSSC’s project schedule. The Circle was also highlighted as a priority for fall planting, specifically with larger canopy trees. In addition, Wade Park and Zoe Park were highlighted as problem areas in need of more extensive remediation, and walks were conducted to introduce committee members to the issues plaguing those areas, as well as the Town more generally.
F&B also held a meeting on September 9th, where they discussed upcoming Fall planting locations and priorities. Final lists for purchase were decided upon, and Jay, Audrey, and Gray will be buying the trees from Stadler as soon as possible. Planting will be done in the areas highlighted in the F&B planting report.
PLAYGROUNDS – Gray Yachup
Nothing to report this month.
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Gray Yachup
This month extensive work was done along pipes in Ridge Road, which caused the removal of parts of the street which were then replaced afterwards. The same occurred along Center Street, and both were replaced.
Steve also has begun expanding the water drainage in the fire lane at the bottom of Center Street, which will entail removing the existing floating curbs in the right side of the lane, expanding the drainage space, and replacing it with anchored curbs.
MEMORIALS – Gray Yachup
The memorials committee received a request from Heather Hoerle for a memorial bench in honor of the late Rich Hilpert, long-time Grove resident and beloved neighbor. The committee will be working with Heather to determine how best to proceed with acquiring and placing the bench.
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – Gray Yachup
After discussing with Dianna Loescher, the Senior Natural Resources Specialist with Montgomery Parks, it was determined that during the fall mowing Montgomery Parks officials will visit the meadow to determine the population density of native plants and animal nests in the area. This will be the main factor determining if they move forward on a summer mowing session to curtain Mile-a-Minute weed.
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – Gray Yachup
Border Committee has been in discussions with the Shady Grove Crossing HOA to discuss a potential official connection between the Grove and SGXC. The current proposed location would be at the corner of Ridge Road directly before it turns left down the hill. There is initial support for the idea, and further details are being discussed with SGXC HOA Board Members.