12 March 2012 | Approved: 21 May 2012
Mayor Cole called the regular meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:33 p.m. In attendance were Councilors Joe Clark, Sylvie Favret, Audrey Maskery, Joli McCathran, Alice Negin and Bill Robertson. Also present were Treasurer Mary Challstrom, Planning Commission Chairman Charlie Challstrom and residents Darrell Anderson, Ann Briggs, Terry Cox, Birgit Henninger, Meredith Horan, Jenny & Marty Long, John McClelland, Paula Puglisi and John Tomlin. Also present: Ken Shumaker from Montgomery County Sanitation & Recycling and Jerald Boyd from Unity Disposal & Recycling.
Approval of Agenda
Bill Robertson moved, Alice Negin seconded that the agenda be approved. Mayor Cole said that she would like to postpone item 7F (Planning Commission recommendations of the Towne Crest rezoning proposal) and 8 (Resolution 2012-02 discussion). She would like to add as item 7; Formal vote on the use of legal firm Knopf and Brown for help with the Towne Crest redevelopment project. Vote: 6-0.
- Birgit Henninger came to talk about the entrance signs. She noted the addition of several things in Morgan Park (the rock, the bench, the signs) and asked that the metal Children At Play and 15 mph signs be removed from the Town sign. She also asked that the Town sign be lowered.
- Mayor Cole stated that most of the public input about the renovated Town sign at the Grove Rd. entrance and the addition of the metal signs has been favorable.
- Darrell Anderson stated that he would like to see the metal signs removed from the Town signs at McCauley Street and Chestnut Road as well. He went on to say that they are out of place and that they destroy the wooden signs.
- Mayor Cole reminded Darrell and Birgit to consider the fact that people walk, play, ride bikes etc…in our streets. She asked them to think about where the metal signs might be placed and still be effective.
- Paula Puglisi stated that decisions are made and people react to them. People are not getting enough information. She noted in particular the allocation of $5,000 and hiring of an attorney to do some work on the Towne Crest redevelopment.
- John McClelland came to talk about the increase in PO Box rentals ($86.00/year for his). He categorized the increase as absurd. He tried to sign up for General Delivery but was told that it was not an option. He suggested that the $20K per year that the Town as a whole pays for boxes could be better spent building a nice structure for our mail. A discussion about how to accommodate our mail delivery ensued.
John also wanted to bring another issue to the Mayor and Council’s attention. The ordinance concerning the number of vehicles allowed at one address and unregistered vehicles on private and public property is being violated in several parts of Town. A discussion ensued. Mayor Cole asked Charlie Challstrom if the Planning Commission might be able to help with this issue. Chairman Challstrom agreed and Mr. McClelland offered to help as well.
- Darrell Anderson came to discuss the letter of resignation from Town Attorney Bill Roberts. He said that Bill resigned for rightful reasons and that he is very concerned about this action. Resolution 2002-01 was breached when an attorney was hired to work on the Towne Crest rezoning issue. He said that he knew the intent was to fix this tonight but these things should be brought up to the Town. He said Bill Roberts had been our Town attorney for 15 years and he hated to see him leave. He said he was concerned about the lack of information. He does not like the way Bill Roberts was treated.
- Mayor Cole stated that not everyone in the room had a copy of Bill Roberts’ resignation letter. (Editorial note: the letter was sent at 1:58 PM on the day of this Council meeting to the Town Office, Mayor Cole, and former Mayors Darrell Anderson, John Compton and Ann Briggs.) She went on to say that she had been on the Council for six (6) years and Mayor for one (1) and that she does not recall ever voting as per the Resolution 2002-01 requirement. All Town Council members now have a copy. Mayor Cole read an excerpt from the February 2012 minutes which explained the Town Council vote approving the $5,000. She went on to explain that the Towne Crest situation had happened very quickly. M-NCPPC planners didn’t understand why the rezoning was a problem, so that had to be handled. She personally went to the Shady Grove Civic Alliance and explained the issue of the zoning change and asked for support. Joe Clark went to Gaithersburg Mayor Sidney Katz who knew nothing about this redevelopment project. Approval to seek advice from a land use and planning attorney was a proactive decision in order to stay on top of the proposed PD-60 zoning request. Mayor Cole stated that she was disturbed by Bill Roberts’ letter because there are parts that she believes are incorrect. She and the Town Council will be discussing this further in a closed session after this meeting because it is a personnel issue. The firm of Knopf and Brown was researched prior to retaining them to represent the Town in the Towne Crest matter. They came to us highly recommended by the sources were contacted.
- Darrell Anderson stated that the process was the problem.
- Mayor Cole explained that we had major time constraints, citing dates for presentation to the Planning Board in April and the County Council in May. She stated there will certainly be public hearing/discussion if we need to take further action. She detailed the significant problems with the proposed PD-60 zoning: “urban high” unit density, 5-story building height, destruction of Town trees, lack of green space, and storm water runoff.
- John McClelland stated that attorney contracts are usually very detailed and precise and he did not understand how such a huge misunderstanding could have happened.
- Mayor Cole said that the text of the contract and of Resolution 2002-01 were never in the forefront.
- Paula Puglisi said that Bill Roberts was a known quantity and that he won us the LOS field.
- John Compton stated that somehow the Town has lost the value of how a Town attorney works with volunteers. Bill Roberts, over time, got to know how we think. We benefitted from having him because he understood the Town. This tells us something pretty significant. We rely on legal advice now and in the future. This is an important relationship. The Town needs to establish a way to maintain continuity when positions change and new people come in.
- Joe Clark stated that during the LOS battle there was continual concern about spending money. He feels there is still considerable sensitivity to the amounts of money spent. It never occurred to him to ask Bill Roberts about the Towne Crest rezoning issue because of the continual drum beat about spending money on attorneys.
- There was a bit more discussion about the need for spending money for legal expertise and how to do so prudently.
- Terry Cox asked the Mayor and Council to address a worsening drain problem with water run-off from Town property on to his. He asked if the Town would look at it. He also said that he would pay for the materials to fix the deteriorating railroad ties that once fixed the problem. Mayor Cole asked Bill Robertson to take this on as a maintenance issue.
Approval of Minutes
Joe Clark moved, Audrey Maskery seconded that the Town Council minutes for February 13, 2012 be approved. Vote: 6-0.
- Sylvie Favret moved, Joli McCathran seconded that the Treasurer’s Report for February 2012 be accepted. Joe Clark asked for a clarification about reserves. Vote: 6-0.
- Treasurers Report 2012-03 pdf
Open Trash Bids FY 13-15
Mayor Cole opened the sealed bids.
- Potomac Disposal $1,125 (Refuse) $ 675 (Recycling) per month
- Mont. Co. Sanitation $2,562.75 (Refuse) $1,593 (Recycling) per month
- Unity Disposal $1,670 (Refuse) $2,090 (Recycling) per month
The Mayor and Council expressed concern about Potomac Disposal’s bid because it was so low. After discussion the Council decided they would like more detail and more time to review the bids. The Clerk will call Potomac Disposal to verify that the tipping fees were included in their bid and to verify the size of their trucks. The Council will make their final decision at the March 26th budget work session.
Formal Vote to Engage the Legal Services of Knopf & Brown
Joe Clark moved to approve the hiring of Knopf & Brown for help with the Towne Crest redevelopment plan. Audrey Maskery seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0.
- Joe Clark moved, Alice Negin seconded that the Council Reports for February 2012 be approved for posting on the Town website. There was a discussion about a request by the resident at 103 Brown Street for maintenance to help her with the rocks/fencing/dirt on her property. Although this is one of the first properties people see when they come in to Town, the Mayor and Council believe that Town maintenance doing work on private property was inappropriate and would set a bad precedent. She should be encouraged to take care of this herself. The Town may consider helping with the removal of the topped pine. Vote: 6-0.
- There was a brief mention of the fact that the Town speed limit signs do not conform to the standards set by the Manual Uniform Traffic Control Devices
- Treasurer Mary Challstrom reported that the Town would be spending $3,990.00 tomorrow for the replacement of the 15 year old furnace that services the lower portion of McCathran Hall. The Council approved of the expenditure.
- Town Council Reports – March 2012 pdf
- Deer Park Bridge Update – Mayor Cole reported that there was nothing new about this item.
- Nominations for May 2012 Elections – Mayor Cole announced that David Young has agreed to run for Council. The Mayor encouraged the Council to get more involved in scouting out others who might be interested. There was a brief discussion about how to get new residents involved. It was suggested that the Clerk send a list of new people to the Mayor and Town Council every other month or so.
The meeting was adjourned 9:25 p.m. at which time the Mayor and Council went into an Executive Session to discuss a personnel matter.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:25 p.m.