2 February 2000 | Approved: 7 March 2000
Jim Leng called the meeting to order at 7:45 p.m. Commissioners Vicki Andrews, Irene Carrato, Bob Evans, John McClelland and Allen Winter were present. Also present were Mayor John Compton; Harry Stone of Bell, Rehder and Rose (commercial corner – Atlantis Associates); Jack Kontigias and Bob Ellis (Bailey Thompson LLC); Dave Shepard (Prime Choice Caterers); Steve Beck (representative of the property owner of the commercial corner); residents Charlie Challstrom, Peggy Odick and Ann Briggs; and Mike Voigt (Washington Grove Hills resident).
Jim Leng said that Bill Glass, a Planning Commission member for several years, has resigned. He said that names of proposed nominees should be given to him or John Compton. Town residents Peggy Odick and Shelley Winkler were suggested to fill the vacancy. An announcement will be made in the February bulletin that there is a vacancy on the Planning Commission.
Minutes from the January meeting were approved as corrected.
David Shepard, owner of the Prime Choice caterers, discussed the conflict between his catering business and the Town of Washington Grove. He said he has been in the same location for almost 20 years and would like to continue to operate his business in the commercial corner. He described Prime Choice caterers as a stable, low traffic business, compared to the prior problems with other businesses in the commercial corner. He also described the hardships he would face if forced to relocate and rebuild his business at a new location. Mr. Shepard said that there is not enough space to operate the butcher shop and the catering business at the new location (of the butcher shop); he said he would propose a zoning text amendment to allow his business to stay in its present location, with whatever restrictions the Town would impose.
Allen Winter said he would like to meet with Mr. Shepard to provide information to him that would be needed for drafting a proposed zoning text amendment.
Jim Leng reminded Mr. Shepard that his catering business is presently operating without a license. Prime Choice caterers had been granted a special exception to operate as long as the butcher shop was also in operation. With the closing of the butcher shop, the catering business is presently operating as a non-permitted use. He said he felt it was restrictive for the catering business to continue to operate in the commercial corner as opposed to operating in a less restrictive location such as the County or the City of Rockville. Mr. Leng said the Town would be more than willing to allow sufficient time for Mr. Shepard to move out of the commercial corner. He also said that the decision not to allow the catering business to stay in their present location is a business decision; the Town is heading in a direction that would not allow certain types of businesses to operate in the commercial corner.
Mayor Compton said that the Town did not receive any applications for a business license regarding Prime Choice caterers this year. Therefore, Mr. Shepard has not been "turned down" for a business license this year. He said he would advise the Council that Mr. Shepard did not apply for a business license. He also said that it would not be necessary for Mr. Shepard to have the proposed zoning text amendment before the next Council meeting.
Allen Winter said that the Town would not want vacant or run-down buildings in the commercial corner – there may be some other use(s) for the buildings in this location. He said that this proposed text amendment could be discussed as part of a Town meeting.
Harry Stone said that perhaps the idea of a service business had been overlooked in preparation of an ordinance regarding the commercial corner. The Town should also review the lists made by Atlantis and Steve Beck regarding proposed tenants for the commercial corner. He also said that the Town will have to continue to work on the definition of a “service business” if that is the type of tenant that is permitted to occupy the commercial corner.
The Council had asked for an outline of the conditions regarding the zoning of the WSSC parcel. Copies of the draft resolution (proposals from Bob Ellis and Jack Kontgias) were distributed to the Commission. It was moved and seconded that the draft resolution be accepted as amended. These conditions will be added, as amended, to the local map amendment application.
The letter from the Town’s attorney (Bill Roberts) dated January 26, 2000 (regarding service uses at the commercial corner) was discussed. Bob Evans moved that sections 4.2, 8.2 and 8.2B be accepted as corrected. The motion was seconded by Vicki Andrews and passed unanimously. Jim Leng said that these changes would not undo what has already been written in the ordinance.
Jim Leng said that the creation of an RR-4 Zone would create a zone that would that would be different in size from R-3. A possible (likely) use for this property would be for zoning Washington Grove Hills if the annexation of Washington Grove Hills should succeed. The most significant problem would seem to be that property owners may want to subdivide their one acre lots into two lots. This zone would need to be created before the proposed annexation resolution of Washington Grove Hills in March.
Irene Carrato asked why we could not just amend RR-3 and change the zoning text.
It was reported that at the January meeting of the Planning Commission, a decision was made that the Town would seek the advice of the Town’s attorney (Bill Roberts) regarding proposed zoning text amendments. Jim Leng said he is opposed to deciding on this zoning text amendment until other Commissioners were “up to speed” on this issue. Allen Winter recommended that the Commission not make a decision at this meeting.
Jim Leng asked if the zoning RR-4 was necessary for annexation. Mayor Compton said he has spoken to most of the Washington Grove Hills residents and the consensus is that they would want to divide their property into two lots.
Irene Carrato said an easement for forest conservation has been tried in the past but did not work. The idea to annex the property to the Town is for those property owners who want to live in the Town of Washington Grove. Mike Voigt said he would not want to move into the Town without R-90 zoning. Jim Leng moved that the zoning issue be passed to the Town Council. The motion was seconded by Irene Carrato. Jim Leng, Irene Carrato, John McClelland and Vicki Andrews were in favor of passing the zoning issue to the Town Council; Allen Winter was opposed.
Allen Winter suggested that the Planning Commission schedule a second meeting for February to discuss proposed zoning text amendments. John McClelland proposed that the Commission vote on this.
Allen Winter asked the Commission to table Bob Evans’ motion so that the contents of the letter from Bill Roberts can be discussed further at the next meeting. It was moved and seconded that a second meeting be held on February 24. A notice of this meeting will be included in the Bulletin which will be mailed on February 17.