13 December 1999 | Approved: 10 January 2000
Mayor John Compton called the meeting to order at 7:45 p.m. In attendance were Councilors Paris Pacchione, Nick Suzich, Dodie Tippens, Carol Uhlendorf and Allen Winter. Town residents present: Charlie Challstrom, Amy Gussack, John McClelland, and Kermit Moyer. Washington Grove Hills residents present: John Tomlin and Mike Voigt. Also present were Kevin McLaren of U.S. Lawns, Atlantis Associates attorney Harry Stone, and Bob Ellis and Jack Kontgias, representing contract purchasers of the WSSC parcel.
Approval of Minutes
Carol Uhlendorf moved, Nick Suzich seconded, that the Town Council minutes of November 8, 1999 be approved. Vote: 5-0.
Dodie Tippens moved, Carol Uhlendorf seconded, that the Treasurer be authorized to transfer funds, if necessary, to pay bills in December. Vote: 5-0.
Pursuant to Section 10-508(a)8, State Government Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, in the McCathran Hall Council Room at 7:52 p.m., the Town Council voted to meet in closed session to consult with staff about pending litigation. The closed session ended at 7:59 p.m. The regular meeting was reopened at 8:00 p.m.
Mayor Compton announced the following:
- Commended Doris Gordon, Alice Negin, Recreation Committee members, and all those responsible for holiday festivities and decorating
- Congratulated Tagg Hutchinson on reaching the rank of Eagle Scout and thanked Jim Fletcher for making a sign to designate the Town Nature Trail, Tagg’s Eagle Scout project
- Granted a permit to McConnell family to reside in their motor home while their house is being completed
- Business license for the Prime Choice Caterers will not be renewed for the calendar year beginning January 1, 2000. Town Attorney Bill Roberts has once again advised the catering business to cease operations no later than the close of this calendar year
- Requested police enforcement of "no through trucks over ¾-ton" on Washington Grove Lane. Discussed sending notices to violators with maps showing alternate routes
Washington Grove Hills Annexation
A Town Council work session was scheduled for Monday, January 3, at 7:30 p.m. in the McCathran Hall Council Room.
WSSC Property on Ridge Road: Rezoning Request
The Planning Commission has recommended that the WSSC parcel be rezoned from RR-3 (20,000 sq. ft. minimum lot size) to RR-1 (11,250 sq. ft. minimum lot size) permitting construction of five houses rather than three. The contract purchasers have presented a development plan showing five homes with four different elevations, all with porches, and at least 15% of the property dedicated to public use for forest conservation. The Commission had requested these features as conditions for rezoning. Town Attorney Bill Roberts reported that conditions couldn’t be imposed on a rezoning. Roberts suggested that the Town propose a text amendment creating an optional development plan in the RR-3 zone that would be subject to conditions not imposed on standard development in RR-3. At the Mayor’s direction, Mr. Roberts will draft a text amendment for Planning Commission review. The Planning Commission will compile materials for a local map amendment for their January meeting.
Kevin McLaren of U.S. Lawns, the Town’s leaf contractor, gave several reasons for their delayed pickup this year including an early and complete leaf drop and only one CDL driver. Mr. McLaren said that the company plans to purchase smaller, more efficient equipment for next year. Last year, 40 large loads were removed from Town.
John McClelland, Town resident, Planning Commission member and commercial corner tenant, requested that the Council consider a trade-off. Would they allow Prime Choice Caterers to continue to operate in exchange for the property owner giving Washington Grove Center a facelift? Allen Winter said that the Planning Commission had determined that the catering business was not an appropriate use at the commercial corner. He also said that the property owner had long promised an improved façade and no significant changes have been made. Paris Pacchione noted that Town officials had worked hard to eliminate all food uses at the corner and to move toward professional office uses. Nick Suzich expressed concern about vacancy in the retail space and the impact it might have on neighborhood safety. He also expressed concern about the expense of potential litigation. Mayor Compton said that the Town Attorney has reported that the expense of litigation would be minimal and unless the Council would like to reconsider, the Mayor saw no reason to broker an exchange at this time.
New Uses Proposed for Retail Space at Town’s Commercial Corner
Allen Winter summarized the Planning Commission response to Atlantis Associates, which has been reviewed by the Town Attorney. Each use proposed by Atlantis was placed in one of four categories:
- P Currently permitted or "likely acceptable"
- SE Currently permitted by special exception or "likely permitted with certain conditions"
- TA Not permitted and requires further study to determine if the Commission will propose a text amendment, and
- D Not permitted and the Commission would not support permitting this use.
- The response to Atlantis stated that this is the opinion of the Planning Commission and not a legally enforceable document with regard to specific uses. The Council endorsed sending this response to Atlantis. Allen Winter said that the Commission would consider a text amendment at their January meeting that would add some services to the list of possible uses at the commercial corner.
Allen Winter reported the following.
- McConnell’s have requested that their address be changed from 17051 Railroad Street to 10 Maple Avenue.
- Builder Martin Berman spoke to the Planning Commission about a cluster development of senior citizen housing he proposes for the Cator property on Railroad Street. The Town has considered annexing this property for some time. It is currently zoned R-200 (residential ½-acre lots) by Montgomery County.
- Charlie Challstrom said that the driveway permit process under study by the Planning Commission would apply to new construction only and would be useful to control access onto public rights of way.
Carol Uhlendorf reported that that she and Jim Fletcher selected 10 trees at Stadlers to begin the Town reforestation project. Trees include two varieties of dogwood, elm and a sourwood. Several residents have requested that adjacent homeowners be notified before the new trees are planted. Ann Briggs, Pete Kollasch, Jean Myers, and Ted Yachup are working on the tree inventory. Carol asked that funds for plantings along Washington Grove Lane be considered in the budget for FY 2001. The Town will participate in the MML/TREE-MENDOUS Maryland Year 2000 tree planting project this spring. White oak trees to be planted on public property will be available for $25 each. Mayor Compton stated that a letter should be sent to Carrie Accardi outlining final plans to meet the afforestation requirement for Brown Street Station.
Carol Uhlendorf reported that the Montgomery County Chapter of the Maryland Municipal League will hold its Holiday Party on December 16 and its annual Legislative Dinner in Annapolis on January 25.
Dodie Tippens reported that Santa arrived in the Grove on a fire engine and was a smashing success as was the Holiday Concert. Caroling has been set for December 23, 7:00 p.m. at the gazebo. Alice Negin will soon resign as chair of the Recreation Committee and has been actively seeking a replacement.
Dodie Tippens reported that EQR is scheduled to dredge the lake diving well beginning the week of January 17 and the Town has applied for a $1500 safety grant from the Local Government Insurance Trust to offset the cost of dredging.
Nick Suzich reported that a Program Open Space application for Woodward Park playground improvements would be underway shortly.
Paris Pacchione reported maintenance staff reinstalled pathway lighting around McCathran Hall and seeded the area along Grove Road where fill dirt had been added to remedy a dangerous drop-off along the road edge. Jim Fletcher helped to select the reforestation materials and determine placement for the new trees.
Memorials Committee: Recommendations
Paris Pacchione distributed copies of the committee recommendations regarding a policy to guide the creation and placement of memorials in Town. Discussion was postponed until the January meeting.
Mayor Compton reported that a tank at the home of Gary and Doris Gordon had leaked approximately 60-80 gallons of fuel oil into a culvert near Maple Avenue. State environmental officials and a private contractor were called immediately to take remedial action.
Paris Pacchione reported that Vicki Erhart has volunteered to monitor street lights and report those that are not working to the Clerk who will fax the information directly to Pepco.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:24 p.m.