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7 October 2020 | Approved: 4 November 2020

Peter Nagrod called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. Because of the Coronavirus pandemic, this meeting took place via ZOOM videoconference. In attendance were Commissioners Charlie Challstrom, Jon Cohen, Georgette Cole, Robert Johnson (Alternate), and Deb Mehlferber. Also in attendance were resident Marc Hansen and HPC member David Stopak. Joan Mahaffey arrived at 8:10 p.m.

Approval of Agenda:

Georgette Cole moved to approve the agenda. Jon Cohen seconded the motion. The following changes were made:

  • 412 4th Avenue; permit for a shed – Deferred to next meeting.
  • 414 Brown Street; front porch – No permit submitted to date – quick review.
  • Other Business – Review website content for building permit application. Georgette Cole will work on this.
  • 333 McCauley Street; encroachment on Town land.

Approved: 5-0, as amended.

Building Permit Applications:

  • 106 Ridge Road – Jon Cohen reported this permit is for a structure already completed. The permit application shows no problems with the setbacks or lot coverage. Jon moved to approve the application for the deck and associated ramps at 106 Ridge. Peter seconded the motion. Approval: 5-0. David Stopak asked if the HPC could review this project and send the review to the property owners. Peter and the Commission agreed this was a good idea. The Commission went on to discuss the Town building permit application process including documents available on the website. David also suggested the HPC consider changing their list of permits they must review to include decks. No further discussion.
    Action: HPC will review this permit.
  • 118 Ridge Road – Jon Cohen reported this permit is for a structure already completed. The deck adds 266 square feet and the setbacks are fine. Jon moved to approve the application for a deck at 118 Ridge Road. Charlie Challstrom seconded the motion. Approval: 5-0.
  • Chairman Nagrod reported Jamie Ayoub (414 Brown Street) was unable to find information about building a deck in the Planning Commission documents on the website. Jon Cohen reported finding something in Article IV, Section 5. There was additional discussion about web content. Peter also reported Jamie is having custom railings built for the stoop/porch on the South side of his home. He will submit another permit for this action.

At this point in the meeting, Chairman Nagrod and the Commission decided to move #7 Hansen Request – Deed Covenants to the #3 spot.

Hansen Request – Deed Covenants:

Charlie Challstrom began the discussion with a summary of a draft report from the Planning Commission. Per a discussion with Town attorney Suellen Ferguson, it is clear further examination is necessary. How the conditions were imposed and what could supercede them were mentioned first. A verbal summary from Suellen Ferguson to Mayor

Compton stated that 3rd covenant in the 1950 conveyance is illegal and probably no restrictions on its removal. The 25-foot strip conveyed in 1978 is likely a straightforward action. Suellen will send a memo to Mayor Compton concerning all the covenants. Chairman Nagrod thanked Charlie for his thorough job in preparing the PC recommendation. He expressed some concerns about consistency and fairness. There was a discussion about previous restrictions, specifically road safety covenants during 1987 – 89. Property owner Marc Hansen expressed his observations:

  • This is an issue of fairness and openness.
  • The restriction does not demonstrate good public planning.
  • The need to uphold the Town tradition of homes being closer to the avenue not the road.
  • The restriction has no real public purpose.

More follow up from the Town attorney is needed. David Stopak requested the HPC be allowed to comment. Deb Mehlferber expressed her opinion that there was no public purpose in maintaining the 25-foot parcel in question and, as a matter of fairness, it should be eliminated.
Action: This item will be on the agenda in November. The HPC will comment as well.

Public Appearances:

There were none.

Public Ways & Property Permit:

  • 3 Ridge Road – Jon Cohen reported this permit is for a concrete driveway already completed. He also expressed the idea that drawings should be a requirement for PW & Property Permit application. Jon moved to approve the PW&PP for a concrete apron at 3 Ridge Road. Peter seconded the motion. Approval: 5-0.
  • 414 Brown – Joan Mahaffey complained about a large rock between a tree and the new driveway. She wants it moved for safety purposes. Georgette Cole volunteered to try to come up with a “form letter” the PC could send to residents asking them to remove material from Town land (before we ask Maintenance to do it instead).
  • 101 Center Street – The PW&PP application is for a second driveway at this address. The Commission discussed removal of a large bush honeysuckle plant, the number of cars currently parking at this property, the number of cars per home allowed, and enforcement of Town rules. The Commission can only address this permit in relationship to current Town ordinances. Jon moved to deny the permit for a second driveway at 101 Center Street based on there being no compelling reason to have a second driveway. Peter Nagrod seconded the motion. Denial: 5-0.
  • $100.00 PW&PP Fee – Charlie Challstrom directed the Commission to Article IX (Penalties, Enforcement, Severability). The discussion setting the $100.00 fee pertained to commercial/businesses like PEPCO, WSSC, Verizon etc. The cost to residents was not addressed when this permit came to be. The Commission agreed this fee, as it pertains to residential PW&PP applications, should be reviewed after the 5-G antenna issue is settled.

Action: The item will be on the agenda for November.

Approval of the Minutes – September 2, 2020:

Charlie Challstrom moved to approve the September 2, 2020 minutes. Georgette Cole seconded the motion. Some minor amendments were made. Approved: 5-0, as amended.

Zoning Text Amendment (2020-11) for Accessory Buildings: Charlie Challstrom a draft document (DRAFT 10/7/20 afternoon). The Commission discussed the following:

  • Simplifying language from the first version Part 1, B.
  • Possible benefits for the few RR-2-zoned properties in the RR-1 zone
  • 412 4th Avenue shed placement. Permit back in resident’s hands.

Charlie Challstrom moved to accept Ordinance 2020-11; Amending the Washington Grove Zoning Ordinance to Modify the Front Minimum Setback Requirements for Accessory Buildings in Residential Zones, as amended the afternoon of October 7, 2020. Peter Nagrod seconded the motion. Approved: 5-0, as amended.

Hansen Request – Deed Covenants: Moved to #3.

West Woods Plat of Survey:

Charlie Challstrom asked for this to be placed on the November agenda for approval.

Report from Town Council: Charlie Challstrom highlighted the following items in his report:

  • Use of McCathran Hall – Not a polling place this year due to COVID-19.
  • Salt Barn – Mayor Compton is waiting for additional communication from County Executive Marc Elrich.
  • Bikeways Connection to Washington Grove – The study from the contractor responsible for assessing traffic and land impacts is expected soon.

Comprehensive Plan Work Session – Report & Update:

Georgette Cole reported work continues on this plan. A new housing element discussion will take place at the next meeting. There was a discussion about the new title, Comprehensive Plan. This plan will no longer be called a Master Plan.

Other Business:

The Commission discussed the encroachment of bushes and stone borders on the Town land in front of 333 McCauley Street. The resident should be notified to stop any further planting and landscaping. Georgette volunteered to talk to the residents. Deb Mehlferber suggested the creation of a generic letter to use in circumstances such as this.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 9:15PM.

Kathryn L. Lehman, Town Clerk

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