8 July 2013 | Approved: 12 August 2013
Mayor Cole called the regular meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:31 p.m. In attendance were Audrey Maskery, Joli McCathran, Carolyn Rapkievian (via conference telephone), Greg Silber and David Young. Also present were Treasurer Mary Challstrom, Planning Commission Chairman Charlie Challstrom and residents Sheldon Bierman, Emily Brown, Joe Clark, Joey Fones, Birgit Henninger, David Hix, Dennis Kane, Peter Nagrod, Bruce Rothrock and Ryan Young.
Approval of Agenda
David Young moved, Audrey Maskery seconded that the agenda be approved. Mayor Cole added action on both proposed ordinances after each public hearing. Vote: 5-0, as amended.
Public Hearing on Ordinance 2013-02; Ordinance to Amend Article IV, "Building Permit Regulations", Section 5; "Special Structures"
Planning Commission Chairman Charlie Challstrom distributed a one-page handout which gave background information and the rationale for this ordinance change. The document contained excerpts from meetings of the Planning Commission and the Town Council.
Mayor Cole asked for clarification about the new language added to Section 5(b).
Chairman Challstrom explained that the added language now makes it clear that all four (4) conditions must be met.
There was a discussion about the 7 foot height limit in Section 5(b).
Joli McCathran said that the language in Section 5(b)1 & 2 was still clumsy and wondered if there wasn’t a better way to state it.
Joe Clark asked if a flagpole would be considered a structure and now need a building permit.
Charlie Challstrom reminded people that this change came about partially because of Montgomery County’s new safety standards for decks.
Sheldon Bierman stated that there have been problems in the past concerning how something is measured for height. He also asked what constituted an alteration to a structure. He felt that these two (2) items were still vague and asked for more clarity.
Charlie Challstrom directed Sheldon to the area in the Town Code which contains definitions stating that he thought the definitions were clear. He went on to say there has always been some confusion about the difference between new structures which need a building permit versus repair and maintenance of existing structures.
Joli McCathran moved, Greg Silber seconded that Ordinance 2013-02 be accepted as presented with the Planning Commission modifications. Vote: 5-0.
Public Hearing on Ordinance 2013-05; Modifying Minimum Side Set Back Requirements fro Main Buildings in Residential Zones
This zoning text amendment was advertised for public hearing on June 19 and June 26 in the Gaithersburg Gazette. Planning Commission Chairman Charlie Challstrom distributed a one-page handout with excerpts from the June 5, 2013 Planning Commission meeting. He stated that this change would apply across the board and be good for others as well as the residents at 404 Grove Avenue. The proposed change will continue the requirement of a 10 ft. minimum side set back but removes the requirement that the sum of two sides must equal 25 feet. This change will affect all homes in the RR-1 & RR-2 zones.
David Hix asked about striking the entire line where this appears in the Schedule of Standards and asked about the origin of the 25 feet. This was discussed.
Joe Clark stated that it was good public policy and allowed for greater design flexibility for these smaller homes thus being more family friendly.
Greg Silber referenced the Planning Commission minutes where Steve Werts asked for review of all set back ordinances rather than piecemeal fixes to specific numbers.
Charlie Challstrom stated that Steve recognized that this change could put more homes into compliance and that he wanted to do this for all non-compliant homes. That would be a much bigger project.
Joli McCathran inquired about the effect that this could have on the recent anti-mansionization work and asked if the Commission was working on anything else.
Kathy Lehman said that it was generally a good idea but that she was worried about the process. She stated that when residents at 127 Washington Grove Lane were denied a building permit for a deck, they were not afforded the same treatment. The Planning Commission works very hard at fair and equal treatment and this doesn’t feel right. If additional work was done, as Steve Werts suggested, this would be more acceptable. The boundary survey for 404 Grove Ave. is not complete yet. There is still more time to work on this.
Peter Nagrod said that the 10 and 15 numbers just didn’t make sense. This will quickly fix something that needs fixing and he is impressed with the speed at which it is being done.
Sheldon Bierman agreed with Peter and went on to state the importance of being family friendly.
Bruce Rothrock stated that he was in support of this but, in total, our Town Ordinances are inadequate. The Schedule of Standards (Section 9) is meaningless. He cited that he found at least 50 properties in the RR-1 zone that have less than the 11,500 sq. ft. minimum threshold. He said that the zones meant nothing and thought that the Planning Commission should consider lot size as the new basis for a Schedule of Standards.
Joe Clark stated that in his years of experience he never saw any favoritism in the Planning Commission and that he thought they did a yeomen’s job.
Kathy Lehman stated that she was merely saying that she didn’t want it to appear that decisions in this town are made based on who you know.
Audrey Maskery asked how this would help her property and others on Washington Grove Lane. These lots are all very narrow making home modification/remodeling very difficult.
Charlie Challstrom answered that it would give her another 5 feet of width.
Joli McCathran stated that still wouldn’t bring Audrey into compliance.
Charlie Challstrom restated that this proposal came about after a discussion between him and Bob Booher at an HPC meeting.
There was additional discussion about non-compliance, trying to fix everything at once, staying focused on this particular change, inadequate numbers throughout Article VII, the need for future work on the ordinances, looking ahead and taking it one step at a time.
David Young moved, Carolyn Rapkievian seconded that Ordinance 2013-05 be enacted.
There were no public appearances.
Approval of Minutes
Greg Silber moved, David Young seconded that the Town Council minutes for June 10, 2013 be approved as amended. Vote: 5-0.
Mayor Cole noted that a misunderstanding had occurred concerning a write-up about the Town Grove Alert E-mail System for the July Bulletin. The Clerk will draft something for the August Bulletin.
- Joli McCathran moved, Audrey Maskery seconded that the Treasurer’s Report for June 2013 be accepted. Vote: 5-0.
- Treasurers Report 2013-07 pdf
Rebuilding Together Resolution – Discussion
Mayor Cole explained Rebuilding Together and the current request for support by resolution. She explained that the Town did a resolution of general support in 2010 but this new request asked for endorsement of a specific project. She suggested the Council approve a new resolution affirming our support for the mission of Rebuilding Together. We cannot support a specific project as there are none in Washington Grove. A discussion ensued.
Greg Silber moved, Carolyn Rapkievian seconded that Resolution 2013-06, offering general support for Rebuilding Together, be re-issued by the current Council if Rebuilding Together indicates this will help them. Vote: 5-0.
Woodward Park Permit – One-time and Multi-time – Continued
Joli McCathran explained that Peter Nagrod has volunteered to serve as the Woodward Park Coordinator for both types of permits. It was decided that there will be two (2) actual permits; One-time Use and Multi-Use. Ordinance 2008-02 will continue to be the document that governs Woodward Park use and a new Resolution will contain the rules and details for doing so. Birgit Henninger asked about a regular Friday night croquet game. Joli McCathran said she would need a permit. Mayor Cole stated that times have changed and because of the increase in non-resident use the Town must have policies that are reasonable and legally defensible. Bruce Rothrock stated that residents use the Maple Lake with no limits to the number of times and no fee. There was a discussion about cutting the field, playing croquet, removal of the soccer goals, fees for recurring team use, Recreation Committee sponsored events requiring no permit, forming a committee to evaluate options for how to handle permits and including the youth volunteer Council member. Mayor Cole, Peter Nagrod and Kathy Lehman will meet to draft the two (2) permit documents and an updated Resolution.
- Greg Silber asked if he could discuss two (2) items that have to do with our refuse/recycling contract. He stated that the small trucks in Potomac Disposal’s fleet often have maintenance issues and they have been bringing in the larger trucks to do our pickup. He asked the Clerk to report what she knew based on her on-going dialogue with Potomac Disposal. Kathy Lehman reported that they would like to use the larger trucks all of the time. She also reported that Potomac Disposal did their collection in a shiny, new, small truck last week. Greg reported that he discussed the truck size with Steve Werts who didn’t think that the larger trucks would be a problem for our roads. The Clerk will draft a letter to Potomac Disposal which recognizes the occasional need to use larger trucks for collection and reinforces our preference for use of the smaller trucks. The letter will also allow them to use the larger trucks when needed without prior notice. Greg Silber reported that Potomac Disposal has been using wheeled walk-in containers for pickup in the harder-to-reach areas and leaving them in various locations around Town for their next use. Kathy explained that residents have been calling about the unsightly containers and wondering if they could be stored elsewhere. By mutual verbal agreement between the Town and Potomac Disposal the containers are now being stored in the lot at the maintenance garage.
- Greg Silber moved, Audrey Maskery seconded that the June Council Reports be approved for posting on the Town website. Vote: 5-0.
- Town Council Reports – July 2013 pdf
- Deer Park Bridge Update – Mayor Cole reported that there was nothing new on this subject.
- Town Crest Development: Mayor Cole reported that the Towne Crest lawyers asked for the withdrawal of their request to change the zoning of the property (LMA-911) without prejudice thus waiving the mandated 3-year waiting period for another application. The Hearing Examiner sent a letter with her legal opinion that the request does not serve the public interest. This item is on the County Council agenda for tomorrow (7/9/13). Mayor Cole, Joli McCathran and Charlie Challstrom will attend the hearing.
- Joli McCathran stated that the Clay Court Committee meeting is scheduled for July 23, 2013 at 7:30 PM in the Council Room. Joli also asked for clarification from Mayor Cole about the recent resolution concerning assault weapons. Other municipalities are facing legal action from a 2nd Amendment Rights Organization and Joli was concerned. The Mayor explained that when we considered our position on firearms the Town recognized the preemption laws of the State of Maryland. Council Resolution 2013-01 does not infringe on State law and thus is not subject to NRA challenge.
- Greg Silber commended Mayor Pro-Tem Joli McCathran and Neighborhood Watch Coordinator Keith Gillis for their rapid dissemination of information after the recent rash of break-ins in Town. Greg also asked if the issue of petty cash for the Clerk was ever resolved. Mayor Cole affirmed that a petty cash fund for use by the Clerk now exists.
- Mayor Cole asked for Council members to remember that the Town has a Yahoo Group not a Listserve and to please refer to it as such.
- Peter Nagrod stated that Linda Baim has been doing a great job with the clay courts and asked if there was $200.00 in the budget for the purchase of the line tape. The labor needed would be done by volunteers. There was a brief discussion. Consideration of this suggestion was referred to the Clay Courts Committee.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:22 p.m.