16 April 2001 | Approved: 8 May 2001
Mayor John Compton called the meeting to order at 7:35 p.m. In attendance were Councilors Darrell Anderson, Dave Gumula, Paris Pacchione, Nick Suzich, Dodie Tippens, and Allen Winter. The following Town residents also were present: Bob Booher, Charlie Challstrom, Don Gallagher, Tricia Knox, David Neumann, David Stopak. Outreach Coordinator Luis Martinez of the Upcounty Regional Services Center also was present.
Don Gallagher expressed disappointment with the Council’s decision to ask Montgomery County to modify the speed hump in front of his house at 125 Washington Grove Lane and reiterated that removal is the only solution to rectify the problem of continuing truck traffic shaking his house. Mayor Compton reported that County traffic engineer Dave Loughery said that the hump could not be modified until a contract is awarded in June or July. Police enforcement of the ban on through trucks (the period between 4 and 7 a.m. is particularly bad) was discussed, as were pavement markings, a Town entrance sign and other traffic calming measures such as narrowing travel lanes and a lower speed limit. Dave Gumula moved, Darrell Anderson seconded, that the County be asked to remove the speed hump in front of 125 Washington Grove Lane. Allen Winter moved, Paris Pacchione seconded, that the motion be amended to state that removal of the hump would not occur prior to the May 8 Town Council meeting, allowing opportunity for interested residents to comment. Vote: 5-1. Vote on main motion: 6-0. Mayor Compton said that he would schedule a meeting with Dave Loughery to discuss signage improvements and other ways to maintain traffic calming in lieu of the "problem" hump.
Luis Martinez, the Montgomery County Outreach Coordinator assigned to Washington Grove, offered to help the Town interact with the County on issues of County involvement including the aforementioned issue of truck traffic along Washington Grove Lane.
Approval of Minutes
Allen Winter moved, Dodie Tippens seconded, that the Town Council minutes of March 12, 2001 be approved. Vote: 6-0.
Carol Uhlendorf moved, Dave Gumula seconded, acceptance of the Treasurer’s report. Vote: 6-0. Carol Uhlendorf moved, Nick Suzich seconded, that the Treasurer be authorized to transfer funds to pay bills in March. Vote: 6-0.
Mayor Compton announced the following:
- A volunteer is needed to represent the Town on the Fire Board of the Gaithersburg-Washington Grove Fire Department. Requires an average of one half hour per month.
- A volunteer is needed to fill out the Washington Grove Lane Intersection and Traffic Study Group. Charlie Challstrom, Della Curenton, and Dave Gumula (Council liaison) have agreed to pursue, with Gaithersburg and the County, options for improving the intersection of Railroad Street/East Diamond Ave/Washington Grove Lane and more effective traffic calming along Washington Grove Lane.
- A Washington Grove Bigtooth aspen has been declared a new Montgomery County champion of its species. John Bradfield nominated this tree, which was recently measured and identified as a winner in the Forestry Board’s Champion Tree Contest.
- If new street addresses are assigned to houses along upper Ridge Road, would Council consider assisting homeowners by offering to pay for new house numbers? The Council agreed as long as numbers would conform to County standards.
- An instance of encroachment onto Town parkland for firewood storage involved confusion over the location of the property line. Mayor would like to aid homeowner in relocating a substantial amount of wood from public parkland onto private property, proposing that the Town contribute funds to hire one or more individuals for this purpose. The Council agreed to this expenditure. Mayor Compton asked Mary Challstrom to get an estimate for performing a boundary survey of the Town parkland along Maple Road in Block 26.
- John Tomlin (321 Ridge Road) in a letter to the Editor recently published by the Gaithersburg Gazette, expressed displeasure over the subdivision of the 2-acre DeIuliis property at 309 Ridge Road. The conversion of the two 1-acre lots to 4 lots approved by the Planning Commission strictly adheres to the rezoning that was part of the Annexation Resolution agreed to by Washington Grove Hills residents including Mr. Tomlin. Moreover, the subdivision places all three new homes to the back of the property so that the character of Ridge Road will be affected as little as possible. Mr. Tomlin’s comparison of this subdivision to the multi-lot R90 subdivision previously opposed by the Town is ingenuous, since that plan would have dramatically altered the number, density and alignment of homes along many hundreds of feet of Ridge Road. Likewise, it’s hard to credit his comparison of the DeIuliis subdivision and its 18,000 square foot lots as in any way comparable to the proposed cluster development of the Casey field with 144 3,000 square foot homes with garages on 4,000- or 5,000-square foot lots. Town of Washington Grove code does not require a public hearing for subdivision, but the Mayor proposes to amend the subdivision ordinance to incorporate both public notice and public hearing requirements.
Casey Field Development Issues/Status Report
Mayor Compton reported that land use attorney Bill Chen has been hired to advocate in the Town’s behalf with regard to development of the Casey tract. Two planners are also being sought, one to work with the Town Planning Liaison Group to generate a concept plan that is Washington Grove-friendly (pedestrian friendly, transitional lot sizes). The other planner would work with Bill Chen to evaluate a subdivision plan submitted by the developer. The Mayor stressed that it would be a mistake to look at a residential plan for this parcel without planning for the eventual development of the adjacent industrial parcel. Moreover, the land reserved for the Intercounty Connector and the accompanying interchange must also be looked at with regard for potential development. Mayor Compton said that an Environmental/Open Space Committee has been asked to pursue issues related to natural resources and programs for maintaining open space. A Finance Committee will pursue sources of funds should purchasing all or part of the property become feasible. The Historic Preservation Group is looking into the creation of a preservation advisory board to help retain the Grove’s essential architectural elements and encourage diversity. David Stopak emphasized the need to establish a political action group to lobby public officials about preservation of the field. Nancy Helme was suggested for this group. Mayor Compton reported that the County Council denied the Town’s request for Master Plan review of the sector containing the Casey tract. The Mayor said that he would talk to Mrs. Casey at the appropriate time.
Resolution to Authorize Approval of the Seventh Amended and Restated Local Government Insurance Trust Agreement
Allen Winter moved, Dodie Tippens seconded, adoption of Resolution No. 2001-01, authorizing approval of amendments to the agreement between the Town and the Local Government Insurance Trust (LGIT). LGIT’s Board of Trustees had approved these amendments, which are technical in nature, on January 29, 2001. Vote: 6-0.
Allen Winter reported that the Commission would require developers of the Washington Grove Park subdivision (former WSSC property) to post an $18,000 bond for post-construction repair of Ridge Road. Developers Bailey-Thompson will also be required to deed the land set aside for forest conservation (Parcel A) to the Town.
- The Commission discussed proposed residential development of the Cator property along with proposed annexation by the Town. Mary Challstrom suggested that the Town respond to Harrison/Cator attorney Will Rogers about ownership of the triangular parcel, which lies to the west of the Cator property between Railroad Street and the tracks. Mayor Compton suggested that the Planning Commission examine transitional uses for the property because of its proximity to the railroad tracks. Transitional uses were proposed for this parcel in the Annexation Study commissioned by the Town in 1997.
- The Commission agreed to the concept of renumbering upper Ridge Road addresses for safety reasons, but postponed a final decision to discuss the numbering scheme with County planner Fred Flaharty.
Darrell Anderson reported that a workday to prepare for Arbor Day planting has been scheduled for Sunday, April 22. Plans for Arbor Day include a ceremonial planting of a tree. Several Town trees have been designated "Champion Trees" by Montgomery County. Town Forester Dan Landry will soon complete a short-term plan identifying canopy trees that need immediate attention and work with the Forestry Committee to start a Town tree inventory.
Town Web Site
Darrell Anderson said that a question has arisen about whether links from the Town’s web site to commercial businesses are appropriate.
Dodie Tippens reported that Jim and Summer Leng will share lifeguard responsibilities at the lake this summer, but lifeguards are needed for the first two weeks of August. Trap sand, barley bales for algae control, and gravel for the parking area will arrive soon. Dodie thanked Don Gallagher for cleaning trees, branches and other debris from the drainage ditch by the lake.
Dodie Tippens reported that the Recreation Committee would be asked about sponsoring several classes in tango, salsa and other popular dances.
Nick Suzich announced that the paperwork for a Program Open Space supported addition to Woodward Park playground equipment has been submitted and POS representatives should soon arrange a site visit. Mayor Compton asked to review Program Open Space materials to understand Town obligations under this program. The Mayor said that he would recommend delaying replacement of the tennis court fence until late in the next fiscal year when we will know the extent of expenditures related to the field development project.
Dave Gumula said that the Historic Preservation Study Group would like to play an active role in the upcoming Master Plan revision. Dave reported that photos are being taken of the fronts and sides of some houses on Ridge Road as a first step in a proposed photographic survey of Grove houses. The overall cost of the survey is being determined. The pros and cons of a Town historic preservation body are being discussed along with ways to educate Town residents about tax credits and incentives for preservation of their houses. The study group will present a complete report of their activities at the Annual Town Meeting in June.
Roads and Walkways
Dave Gumula said that the condition of the Ridge Road pavement near the intersection of Ridge and Railroad Street is being examined. It was repaired not long ago and has deteriorated rapidly. It was suggested that the grassy parking area on Center Street across from McCathran Hall be graveled because it frequently gets muddy.
Paris Pacchione reported that the police have been called several times late at night to ask people in vehicles to leave the woods near Dorsey Street and Grove Road. Paris will ask Jim Fletcher to install a barrier to keep vehicles from easily entering the woods.
Paris Pacchione reported that the new street signs are being installed. The maintenance staff has cleared an area for six new parking spaces at Maple Lake.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:35 p.m.