11 May 2013 | Approved: 10 May 2014
Mayor Georgette Cole welcomed everyone and called the 77th Annual Town Meeting to order at 8:05 p.m. There were over 50 residents in attendance.
Mayor Cole asked for a moment of silence to remember those in need, those who serve us in Montgomery County and for our many service members at home and abroad. She then asked for any additions to the meeting agenda. Ann Briggs pointed out that #8 on the agenda should be changed to 2014.
Approval of Minutes:
It was moved and seconded that the minutes from the 2012 Annual Town Meeting be approved. The vote was unanimous.
State of the Town Report:
Mayor Cole reported that there were many challenges during the past year.
- Towne Crest – Mayor Cole stated that this project has been very time consuming. She went on to explain where things stood in the redevelopment process. The plan is now down in density from PD60 (Planned Development 60 units per acre) to PD35, the placement of the townhomes has been changed thus giving way to more separation from Daylily Lane residents.
- Washington Grove Meadow – Mayor Cole thanked and mentioned individually, those who worked on this committee. She went on to say that their suggestions were heard and incorporated into the plan by M-NCPPC. Now that the Committee’s work is done they will disband. Annexation may follow in the coming year. Mayor Cole praised former Town attorney Bill Roberts for all of his preparation and history.
- Deer Park “Humpback” Bridge: Mayor Cole reported that CSX have not been very active in our area. Most of their efforts are to our North with the National Gateway Initiative. The meetings with CSX have been good and they are committed to bringing plans to the Town, albeit slowly. Mayor Cole remains optimistic.
- Clay Courts Committee: Mayor Cole explained the reason for the formation of this new committee. The time has come to research whether the Town should spend money on refurbishing the clay courts or changing the surface to asphalt. Residents asked a few questions. Mayor Cole encouraged residents to come to attend the meetings and help the Committee determine what they want.
Mayor Cole asked for a round of applause for Town employees Mary Challstrom (Treasurer), Kathy Lehman (Clerk) and Steve Werts (Maintenance). She also acknowledged the part-time employees; our webmaster, Bill Saar, and our seasonal help at Maple Lake, in maintenance, and in Summer In The Parks.
Mayor Cole went on to stress the importance of volunteering in Town. She mentioned each Councilor by name; Joe Clark, Audrey Maskery, Joli McCathran, Bill Robertson, Greg Silber, David Young, and asked them to stand for recognition. Mayor Cole presented outgoing Councilmember Joe Clark with a small token of appreciation for his time on the Council.
Mayor Cole stated that it would be impossible to do what needs to be done on many critical issues without our volunteers. She thanked and mentioned each member of the following groups, Commissions and Committees;
- Planning Commission – Samantha Beres, Charlie Challstrom (Chair), Joe Clark (Council Liaison), Brenda Gumula (Alternate), Peter Nagrod and Steve Werts
- Historic Preservation Commission – Bob Booher (Chair), Wendy Harris, Gail Littlefield, Joli McCathran (Council Liaison), David Stopak and Mimi Styles
- Board of Zoning Appeals – Satoshi Amagai, Christine Dibble and Marc Hansen (Chair)
- Board of Supervisors of Elections – Meredith Horan (Chair), Betty Knight and Kristin Perry
- Audit Committee – Ernie Kawasaki, John Klinger and Carolyn Sanford
- Forestry Committee – Audrey Maskery & Carol Uhlendorf (Co-Chairs)
- Lake Committee – John Hutchinson (Chair)
- Recreation Committee – Missy Yachup & Eve Zibart (Co-Chairs)
Mayor Cole also thanked those who volunteer for the McCathran Hall Needs Committee (Ann Briggs, Chair), the Woods Group (Ann Briggs, Chair), the Outdoor Lighting Advisory Group; specifically Tom Land (Carolyn Rapkievian, Chair), Summer In The Parks (Samantha Beres, Emily Cavey and Sung Chang), the Maintenance Crew, the Trash Brigade and the Labor Day (Craig English) & July 4th Celebrations.
The Mayor announced that this year’s Outstanding Volunteer of the Year is Nicholas Lembesis for his tireless service to the Town as a member of the maintenance crew. Be it further recognized that he has earned the title of “weed-wacker extraordinaire” for his skilled ability with the string trimmer. Steve Werts accepted a framed certificate on Nicho’s behalf.
Woods Group Initiative Report:
Ann Briggs reported the group has been in existence now for four (4) years. Their objective is to maintain the natural environment of our East and West Woods. The time has come to engage with some professionals in order to receive guidance for a long-term plan for our woods. Our woods will be facing the challenges brought on by adjacent development for the next several decades. She referred to the Town Crest redevelopment, Hershey’s and other properties across the tracks and across Washington Grove Lane. The Group has been working on trash removal, mulch for walking trails, erosion, water flow, removal of invasives, and our increasing deer herd. She spoke about the importance of bringing in consultants to help with the long-term plan for the health of our woods and the
need for funding. Ann also suggested the money ear-marked for spraying invasives, which is no longer being done, now be used to hire consultants. She encouraged all who have an interest in preserving our woods to join in.
Meredith Horan read the elections results. The results are as follows:
- Georgette Cole 69 votes
- Carolyn Rapkievian 71 votes
- Bill Robertson 67 votes
Write-ins (1 vote each);
- 3-year term – Alice Negin
- 3-year term – Tom Land, Vinny Negin
Discussion of Town Council Reports:
Mayor Cole asked if anyone had questions about the Council Reports. Ann Briggs brought to everyone’s attention the new configuration of Mayor’s photographs hung in the Hall of Infamy downstairs. Joe Clark thanked Mayor Cole for her second year in office. There was a standing ovation, applause and lots of cheering.
Action on FY 2014 Budget and Tax Rates:
Mayor Cole reported that the state of the Town finances is good. She went on to explain and error in our favor made by the State of Maryland. She also reported that County revenue sharing is back and State Highway User Revenue is up as well. A discussion about the proposed tax rate ($.285/$100. per assessed value) and the dwelling tax ensued. Eve Zibart asked if the Town would consider a higher rate in order to increase our reserves. Mayor Cole asked for a motion. Another discussion ensued based primarily on the pros and cons of having a good cushion. Greg Silber asked about the money in the current budget for the repairs of McCathran Hall. Mayor Cole asked for a motion.
Greg Silber moved to transfer the $57,500.00 set aside for repairing McCathran Hall to the FY2014 budget. Charlie Negin seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous.
David Rapkievian asked if the proposed amount ($.285/$100.) could stay the same, stating that our taxes have gone up three (3) years in a row. He questioned the exuberance in raising taxes. There were questions about process and the restrictions on the dwelling tax.
Eve Zibart moved to consider raising the proposed rate the $.300/$100. per assessed value because of on-going legal issues and the decline in contributions. David Stopak seconded the motion. Vote: 34 yeas, 14 nays, the motion carried.
Joe Clark moved to approve the new rate of $.70 for Utility Operation Costs. Eve Zibart seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous
Jane Seegal moved to transfer the unused funds for spraying invasives to the FY2014 budget. Eve Zibart seconded the motion. Amendment – Change “spraying invasives” to “management”.
Vote: Unanimous, as amended.
Ann Briggs asked for clarity. Does this mean that the Woods Group should move forward with the management initiative? There was a resounding “yes”.
Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the expenditure limit as adjusted and to accept the proposed 2014 Budget and Tax Rate. Eve Zibart seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous
Planning Commission Report:
Chairman Challstrom directed people to the written report included in the handouts. He talked about the redevelopment of Towne Crest and asked residents to share their concerns about the project. He explained the Planning Commission’s role in voicing Town concerns and made reference to the recommendations by the PC that have been moved forward for Town Council approval. He praised attorney David Brown and consultants for their expertise and residents who wrote letters to the County Planning Board. Chairman Challstrom explained the need for a new permit; Public Ways & Property Permit. He said that public utilities (PEPCO, WSSC, Comcast, Verizon etc.) were causing problems and extra maintenance work. This permit will keep the Town in the loop when public utilities need to dig/disturb Town land. It is extra protection for Town property and makes it more likely that the disturbed areas will be returned to good condition after the work is completed.
Historic Preservation Commission Report:
Chairman Bob Booher reported that Margo Bohan has retired from the HPC. He thanked her for her service and for the expertise she shared with the Commission. Wendy Harris has volunteered to fill the vacancy. Bob also reported that Archives work is very active with Archivist Pat Patula entering our information into our Past Perfect program. Also mentioned were, the oral history project, a recent leak in the Archives room (nothing lost), the size of our Archives, Preservation Maryland Endangered Places list, expanding the boundaries of the Town to include annexed property and design guidelines on the website. Bob announced the 100-year birthdays of 410 Brown Street, 414 Brown Street, 418 Oak Street and 215 Washington Grove Lane. Bob also encouraged residents to come early for consultation with the Commission. He said that coming early would save money on construction/architectural drawings.
This year’s Historic Preservation Award went to the Liz Robertson for her renovation of her home at 315 Brown Street. Bill Robertson accepted on Liz’s behalf.
With no new business, the meeting was adjourned at 9:55PM.