10 May 2014 | Approved: 9 May 2015
Mayor Georgette Cole welcomed everyone and called the 78th Annual Town Meeting to order at 8:00 p.m. There were over 50 residents in attendance. Mayor Cole asked for a moment of silence to remember those who are ill, those in need, service members and Nicho Lembesis.
Approval of Minutes
It was moved and seconded the minutes from the 2013 Annual Town Meeting be approved. The vote was unanimous.
State of the Town Report
Mayor Cole reported there were many challenges during the past year. She gave a special thank-you to Planning Commission Chairman Charlie Challstrom for his undying energy and support with many of the current Town projects. All done with no complaints!
- CSX/Deer Park Bridge: Mayor Cole stated CSX withdrew their first plan which raised the bridge 18 inches. She went on to say the new plan is far better. She praised the tenacity of the Bridge Advisory Group stating it was their efforts that made this new plan happen. There was a round of applause. Mayor Cole said the project is coming to an end. The bridge will be closed from June 13 – August 25, 2014.
- Washington Grove Conservation Meadow Park: Mayor Cole reported after much negotiation, the Operations and Use Plan has been finalized. It is a cooperative effort. Milk weed planting (thanks to Betsy Klinger & Ann Philips) and a new placement of the kiosk will happen soon.
- Lower Ridge Road/Shady Grove Crossing: Mayor Cole reported much of the critical work on this project came before her time and gave a brief history. At the present time, Toll Brothers is almost finished with their involvement with the lower Ridge Road plantings and soon will be replaced by a home owners association. The Town will reach out to the new board. The repaving of loser Ridge Road is scheduled to start on Monday, May 12, 2014.
- Towne Crest Apartments Redevelopment: Mayor Cole reported she is happy with the results of the opposition to the Towne Crest redevelopment proposal. The Town spent considerable amounts of time and money to protect the Town area adjacent to the apartments. As presented, the plan did not adhere to Master Plan requirements and Maryland National Capital Park and Planning agreed. It is very likely another redevelopment plan will be presented upon completion of Master Plan revisions which include the Towne Crest apartments.
- Clay Courts Committee: Mayor Cole explained the Committee did a great job with research on this topic. She thanked Steve Werts for the acquisition of a gas-powered roller for the courts. More permanent line markers are being researched and Steve will also work on the drainage.
As a result of the January 14th fire at 203 2nd Avenue, the Town Council, Planning Commission and Historic Preservation Commission are all working on an ordinance which would allow the owner to rebuild the porch on Town property. She explained the process for Ordinance No. 2014-03; Ordinance to Authorize Issuance of Permanent Easements for Main Buildings Initially Constructed in Part on Land Owned by the Town of Washington Grove. The Mayor encouraged everyone to obtain a copy and review the proposed ordinance. It will be introduced at the May 19, 2014 meeting of the Town Council with the public hearing likely scheduled for June 16, 2014.
Mayor Cole asked if there were any general questions. There were questions about the following:
- Traffic pattern during the closure of the Deer Park Bridge
- Height of the new bridge plan
- Annexing the Washington Grove Meadow Conservation Park
- Towne Crest redevelopment – At this time Ann Briggs stated the Towne Crest redevelopment opposition and positive outcome is entirely on your watch and we are extraordinarily grateful. There was a round of applause after which Mayor Cole thanked David Stopak for first bringing it to the Town’s attention and for suggesting an outside attorney be consulted.
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, specifically Terry Cox; our webmaster, Bill Saar, and our seasonal help at Maple Lake, in maintenance, and in Summer In The Parks. Mayor Cole also introduced Town Archivist Pat Patula. She went on to explain some Pat’s responsibilities and acknowledged her as an inspiration. There was round of applause.
Mayor Cole went on to stress the importance of volunteering in Town. She thanked the many residents whose volunteer spirit keeps the Town running. She mentioned each Councilor by name; Audrey Maskery, Joli McCathran, Carolyn Rapkievian, Bill Robertson, Greg Silber, David Young, and asked them to stand for recognition. She gave warm wishes to David Young as he moves on to other things. She also thanked and mentioned each member of the following groups, Commissions and Committees;
- Planning Commission – Charlie Challstrom (Chair), Brenda Gumula, Peter Nagrod, Freda Temple, Steve Werts and David Young (Council Liaison).
- 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 Deb Tarasevich
- 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 and announced they need a new Chairperson. She thanked 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, Sung Chang and Paige Clifford), the Maintenance Crew (inspired by Steve Werts), the Trash Brigade (Elly Briggs, Audrey Maskery and Dan Tutas) and the Labor Day (Craig English) & July 4th Celebrations. She also mentioned those who help fold and put postage on the Town Bulletin every month (Bruce Rothrock and Kitty Vogan).
The Mayor announced this year’s Outstanding Volunteer of the Year is Marilynn Frey. She is our computer fixer and advisor, Woman’s Club Do-er of Many Things, Town Directory Organizer, Wardrobe Mistress and Seamstress Extraordinaire! There was a rousing round of applause.
Woods Group Initiative Report
Ann Briggs asked the Woods Group Members to please stand. Last year the Group was charged with the development of a Forest Management Plan and proposal for the work. This is nearly complete and will go out to 16 qualified candidates/bidders very soon. Ann read some excerpts from the proposal. In addition to the Arbor Day trail rejuvenation work and the planting of 14 native saplings, the Woods Group also sponsored two (2) forums; White Tail Deer and Woodland Diseases. Ann gave a “shout out” to Tom Land for his bridges and encouraged people to take a walk in the woods. There was a slide show of our flora and fauna.
Meredith Horan read the elections results.
The results are as follows: 141 ballots were cast.
Joli McCathran » 121 votes
Council: 3-year term
Georgette Cole » 119 votes
Audrey Maskery » 115 votes
John McClelland » 87 votes
David Hix » 45 votes
Ed Roberts » 10 votes
Write-ins (1 vote each):
Georgette Cole » 1 vote
John McClelland » 1 vote
Ed Roberts » 4 votes
John Tomlin » 1 vote
Shelley Winkler » 1 vote
Vinny Negin » 1 vote
Council: 3-year term
Larry French » 1 vote
David Hix » 1 vote
Terry Kirtz » 1 vote
Tom Land » 1 vote
John McClelland » 3 votes
Vinny Negin » 1 vote
Ed Roberts » 3 votes
Discussion of Town Council Reports
Mayor Cole asked if anyone had questions about the Council Reports. There were none. Carolyn Rapkievian reminded folks there were five (5) days left to complete the website survey. Keith Gillis directed folks to a Neighborhood Watch sign-up sheet for block captains.
Action on FY 2015 Budget and Tax Rates
Mayor Cole reported that the state of the Town finances is good. The Town Council recommends the Town property rate of $0.30/$100 assessed valuation (the constant yield tax rate) and the dwelling unit charge at $97 per dwelling. Mayor Cole asked for a motion. Gary Gordon moved to accept the Council recommendations of a property tax rate of $0.30/$100 assessed valuation and the dwelling unit charge at $97 per dwelling. David Stopak seconded the motion. There was discussion about the estimated and proposed categories in the budget, Nicho’s Trees fund, County revenue, Highway User Revenue, and the use of reserves. Ann Briggs made a request to put at least $5,000 in the 2016 Capital Improvements Program as a placeholder for the renewal and or purchase of some new playground equipment. Mayor Cole stated she thought this was a good idea and called for a vote. The motion passed unanimously, as amended.
Planning Commission Report
Chairman Challstrom directed people to the written report included in the handouts and highlighted the following:
- There were 12 building permit applications this year.
- There was increased activity of the block corner survey project.
- Early consultation with the Historic Preservation Commission could help with your building plans.
- A change in the rules for submission of a building permit; residents must get an HPC review prior to submitting their building permit application. The earlier the better.
- The fire at 203 2nd Avenue prompted work on an ordinance to address rebuilding on Town land and homes that are partially on Town land. He used the previous sale and insurance problems at 315 Grove Avenue as an example of why it is important to deal with the encroachments. The ordinance is a proactive tool.
- There was a work session with Town attorney Suellen Ferguson.
Charlie thanked to Commission members for their action and good energy.
Historic Preservation Commission Report
Chairman Bob Booher welcomed new Town Archivist Pat Patula. He stated she has forced the Commission to get their act together and organize their documents which, in turn, has prompted the discussion about a Records Management Plan. Upon completion of the plan, it will be sent to the State for approval. Bob pointed out the 1937 First Town Election display and encouraged people to look at it. He thanked Wendy Harris for her research on the steatite quarry, tennis courts in the Grove and Political Hill. He thanked Ken McCathran for his help with the oral histories and Phil Winter for his donation of old Town photographs. He went on to say the Deer Park Bridge project was a significant victory for the Town and thanked all those involved. Bob also brought up the fire at 2nd Avenue and what a big loss it was for the Town to lose a 120+ year old cottage. The placement of the HPC review and why it is important to come to them at the conceptual stage was also discussed.
There was only one home which turned 100 years old this year. Happy Birthday to 405 Brown Street.
This year’s Historic Preservation Award went to Kristin & Glen Perry for their renovation of their home at 202 Grove Avenue. This renovation paid particular attention to historical integrity and modest scale.
Jane Seegal asked about efforts to prevent mansionization. Bob reported it had to take a back seat to the other issues this year. It has not been forgotten.
Jim Fletcher thanked Mayor Cole for all of her good work for the Town. There was a long round of applause and a standing ovation.
Judy Mroczka, Roving Reporter, summarized the years of Georgette’s tenure as only Judy could do.
With no new business, the meeting was adjourned at 9:50PM.