12 May 2018 | Approved: 11 May 2019
Mayor Joli McCathran welcomed everyone and called the 82nd Annual Town Meeting to order at 8:00 p.m. There were over 50 residents in attendance.
Craig English shared a fable about a hearing-impaired frog which fought to achieve its goal despite the protestations of naysayers. The fable illustrated, in humorous fashion, the power of words to either encourage or discourage, and the importance of choosing words carefully.
Approval of Agenda:
It was moved and seconded to approve the agenda. Approved (unanimous)
Approval of Minutes:
It was moved and seconded to approve the minutes of the 2017 Annual Town Meeting. Approved (unanimous)
State of the Town Report:
Mayor McCathran gave special thanks to her husband Ken for his support. She also thanked the dedicated volunteers who serve on the Town Council, Planning Commission, Historic Preservation Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals, and Board of Supervisors of Elections. She thanked Town employees including Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts, Clerk Kathy Lehman and Treasurer Mary Challstrom. She acknowledged the hard work of Town Archivist Pat Patula, Webmaster Bill Saar and Terry Cox, who works as maintenance staff. She thanked the appointed members of the Audit Committee, and myriad other volunteers who serve on Town Committees, large and small. She encouraged everyone to find a Committee that suits their interest and join it.
The Mayor highlighted the following accomplishments of the year:
- • The de-platting and rezoning of the East Woods
- • A new three-year contract with Potomac Disposal for trash and recycling
- • Street name sign project involving many volunteers to refurbish the Town’s unique wood street name signs with beautiful art and reflective paint/glass beads
Planning Commission Report:
Chair Peter Nagrod introduced and thanked the Commission members. He displayed a chart showing the variety of building permit applications for the year and their status. Peter then described a number of topics and projects for the year ahead, some of which are on-going. (See 2018 Town Council Annual Reports for details)
- • Multi-family dwelling units
- • Licensing rental units
- • Master Plan update
- • New subdivision at 17050 Railroad Street (Cator Property)
- • House Files – Georgette Cole, Brenda Gumula, and Deb Mehlferber were thanked for their detailed work on the House Files. Each residential property is examined for building permit elements (e.g. setbacks, lot coverage) to compile a database
- • Bikeway Connection
- • Sale of surplus properties for main buildings constructed in part on Town land
- • Border Committee – to help design entrance signs and fencing along Washington Grove Lane identifying Town property as land to be cared for.
Peter concluded his entertaining presentation by emphasizing the Commission’s desire to help and work with residents to bring their plans to fruition. He asked residents, in turn, to abide by the Town’s code of ordinances so enforcement measures are not needed.
Gail Littlefield asked how the House Files will be used. Georgette Cole indicated a plan for access and use of the data will be formulated when the data compilation is complete.
Sam Beres asked how the de-platting of the East Woods will protect the woods from future development. Peter said there would be more information in the reports that follow.
Historic Preservation Commission Report:
Chair Bob Booher emphasized the Commission’s role in helping residents to improve their houses while encouraging retention of the historic character so important to the Town. Bob thanked the Town’s Records Management Officer Marilynn Frey for her work in the Archives. The budget includes funds to provide for better temperature and humidity control in the Archives Room. Bob touched on the Design Guidelines which are being developed as a tool to help the HPC evaluate building permit applications.
- • National Register Nomination Update — Bob thanked Wendy Harris and Gail Littlefield for their work on the National Register Nomination Update.
- • Porches on Town Land — Bob talked about the historic porches constructed in part on Town land and the role of the HPC. Bob said Exhibit C, which documents the historic preservation aspects of the structure and is prepared by the HPC, will be included whether or not this land conveys by sale or easement.
- • Street Name Signs — Bob thanked Susan Van Nostrand and Gail Littlefield for their research and exploration of materials to help the Town retain its wood street name signs. Their teamwork resulted in a cadre of volunteers committed to improving and retaining wood signs. Visibility concerns of the Fire Department and the Town’s Emergency Preparedness Committee were addressed with greater reflectivity in the paint used for the signs.
- • The Preservation Award was “presented to Susan Van Nostrand for her energetic leadership of the volunteer ad-hoc historic street sign restoration team who rose to the challenge of preserving an important and treasured part of the Town’s past while meeting the requirements of the present. The team’s forward-thinking action shows the best of the Town’s volunteer spirit. Washington Grove will remain indebted to them for keeping our unique streetscape our own.”
Woods Committee Report:
Co-chairs Pat Klein and Joan Mahaffey presented a detailed report on extensive Woods Committee accomplishments for the year. Pat began by telling a heartwarming story about the rescue of Freddie, an injured Grove fox kit. Pat operated and Freddie is recovering nicely! Pat spoke about the implementation of the Forest Stewardship Plan and its three-prong approach to restore the tree canopy – control of non-native invasives, planting of large and small trees, and deer management. Pat detailed efforts to reclaim Town land along the Saybrooke boundary where neighbors had extended their yards onto Town property. She talked about the East Woods Boundary Survey and the de-platting of the East Woods to indicate the Town’s intention that it remains a Forest Reserve. She also thanked the many volunteers who removed tons of trash from the West Woods.
Joan Mahaffey, proudly wearing her “Let the Forest Be with You” tee shirt, described in detail invasive plant control in the East Woods. She described the work of the Town’s contractor
Invasive Plant Control, Inc. and the independent efforts of volunteers to measure the success of the treatment. She praised the efforts of volunteers to remove English Ivy and Japanese barberry using mechanical means. Joan said signs of native plants re-emerging are evident along paths in the East Woods. She also reported evidence of deer damage to recently planted trees. The following are “Next Steps” for the Woods Committee in FY 2019:
- • Work with DNR and Montgomery County to develop an integrated Town plan to reduce over-browsing by deer in East and West Woods
- • Continue invasive plant control process
- • Develop long-range plan for replanting and reforestation to restore forest canopy and ecosystem health
- • Evaluate annual outcomes and success
Joan suggested ways for residents to stay informed about Woods Committee activities and invited interested residents to Committee meetings. She thanked the Woods Committee volunteers who have given a huge amount of time to preserving the woods.
Forestry and Beautification Committee Report: Georgette Cole thanked Council Liaison Audrey Maskery, Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts, and the many volunteers who show up on Arbor Day and other work days throughout the year to prune, plant and generally beautify the Town. She reported that 26 trees have been added in the past year and a whopping 134 trees in the last seven years. A watering plan has been key to tree survival.
Emergency Preparedness Committee Report:
Vice Chair Dave Cosson encouraged interested Town residents to join the Committee. He reported on the following activities:
- • Standby Generator for the Town Hall – Request for proposals has been prepared. There is a possibility of a FEMA grant to help with cost.
- • Response to Fire Department After-Action Report – House Fire in January 2015
– Street name sign legibility – ongoing Town action to improve
– House number sign visibility, content, especially when address is on walkway – request resident action to improve
– Fire hydrant markings for visibility – ongoing Town action to improve
– Spreadsheet of house access directions provided to Fire Department
- • 2018 County Hazard Mitigation Plan – Town representatives have participated in update. Town will adopt updated County plan to be eligible to apply for FEMA grants.
- • Improved Lighting for Railroad Street Pedestrian Crossing – Pepco has been contacted.
Discussion of Town Council Reports:
It was moved and seconded to accept the Town Council Reports for posting on the Town website. Pat Klein gave a brief update to her Maple Lake Committee report. She announced rather than hiring a security guard, Montgomery County Police will have access to make random patrols of the lake area. Reports were unanimously accepted.
Action on FY 2019 Budget and Tax Rate:
Mayor McCathran briefly outlined the budget process. It was moved and seconded to adopt the Town Budget for FY 2019 as recommended. The budget was adopted with one dissenting vote. It was moved to adopt the constant yield tax rate for FY 2019. The motion was seconded and passed.
A motion was passed at the 2017 Annual Town Meeting to have the Town Council report progress on improvements to the Town Council meeting space and layout at the 2018 Town Meeting. In response to this motion, it was reported Steve Werts redesigned the antique piano table to unfold to a longer table, enabling the Mayor and Councilors to all face the audience. Photos of the convertible table were shown.
Volunteer of the Year Award:
Mayor McCathran presented the 2018 Outstanding Volunteer of the Year award to Wendy Harris. Wendy is a member of the Town’s Historic Preservation Commission. She is an experienced archivist who volunteers her expertise weekly in the Town Archives, and took the lead role to prepare the detailed request for proposal for the National Register Nomination Update.
Chairman of the Board of Election Supervisors Meredith Horan read the election results. 198 ballots were cast, including 31 absentee ballots.
Mayor: John Compton 106 votes
Joli McCathran 85 votes
Council: three-year terms (2)
Charlie Challstrom 171 votes
Marida Hines 105 votes
Joan Mahaffey 85 votes
Rob Gilmore 179 votes
one-year term (1)
Darrell Anderson 104 votes
Craig English 90 votes
Mayor: Gray Yachup 1 vote
Council: three-year terms (2)
Marc Hansen 1 vote
Peggy Erickson 1 vote
Peggy Erickson 2 votes
Tom Land 1 vote
With no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 9:58 p.m.
Mary M. Challstrom