14 November 2011 | Approved: 12 December 2011
Mayor Cole called the regular meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:32 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 Chair Charlie Challstrom and residents Ann Briggs, Aimee Coogan, Gary Gordon, Birgit Henninger,
Don Henninger, Meredith Horan, John Hutchinson, Janet Lottero, John McClelland, Ed Roberts, Bruce Rothrock, Jane Seegal, Mimi Styles, Sandy Styles and John Tomlin. Robert Krebs and Steve Varga from the Saybrooke community were also in attendance.
Approval of Agenda
Bill Robertson moved, Joe Clark seconded that the agenda be approved. Vote: 6-0.
Robert Krebs from Saybrooke expressed his gratitude for the letter of support concerning the removal of two (2) trees that have been failing in health for a number of years in the West Woods to aid in his quest to get enough sun for the installation of solar panels on his roof. He went on to explain that Saybrooke currently does not allow the installation of solar panels and he will need to challenge that rule before proceeding any further. He believes that the ban is in violation of a Maryland State Law. He listed the benefits of solar power and requested the removal of another tree as stated in his original letter. The third tree is a large, healthy tulip poplar and his request was previously denied. Mayor Cole stated that she and the Council will continue to discuss this while Mr. Krebs gets his other issues with the home owners association resolved.
Steve Varga from Saybrooke came to ask the Town’s help concerning our chain link fence in the West Woods. He explained that the Saybrooke community erected a 12 foot wooden fence between their common property and the Towne Crest apartments for the purpose of trying to stop people from walking through privately owned land in the community. The Town’s chain link fence meets their wooden fence and it is getting cut in order to continue the undesirable activity. A discussion about reasons for cutting through, additional cutting elsewhere if the hole is repaired and private fencing ensued. Charlie Challstrom said the Planning Commission will be assembling ideas to present to the Towne Crest developers and these could include replacing the chain link fence in that area with an iron fence as part of the re-development requirements. Mr. Varga thanked the Mayor and Council for their help.
The Rev. Judy Young came to thank everyone for their generous donations of canned goods for their food drive. She also announced their Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service on Wednesday, November 23, 2011.
Gary Gordon came to support the Town’s current level of maintenance. He stated that he was pleased with the way things are being done. He gave many examples of the things that pleased him and said that in the 40 years that he has lived here things have never looked so good. He suggested that the Maintenance Supervisor be given a raise.
Ed Roberts seconded Gary’s remarks and said he’d also come to discuss maintenance priorities. He stated that branches were coming down all over Town and that pruning should be a priority. He talked about shifting funds within the budget and expressed the concern that someone could get hurt by these branches. Mayor Cole explained that the current budget includes money specifically for pruning.
Approval of Minutes
Alice Negin moved, Bill Robertson seconded that the Town Council minutes for October 10, 2011 be approved. Vote: 6-0.
- Joe Clark moved, Audrey Maskery seconded that the Treasurer’s Report for October 2011 be accepted. There was a brief discussion about the streetlight conversion. Vote: 6-0.
- Sylvie Favret moved, Joe Clark seconded the motion to transfer funds from savings to checking in order to pay bills. Vote: 6-0.
- Treasurers Report 2011-11 pdf
Maintenance Policy for the Town
The Mayor stated that the reason for this agenda item was to be sure that the current level of maintenance is on the right track. She stated that the Mayor and Council had received eight (8) written testimonies of which 7 were strongly favorable and one neutral about the current level of maintenance. Several residents attending the Council meeting made very positive comments about the maintenance supervisor and his crew. Mayor Cole stated that based on the discussion, the current direction of maintenance is the way Town residents wish to go.
Woodward Park Use Policy
Mayor Cole reported that recent testimony shows a significant concern about enforcement of the Town Ordinance and Resolution that regulate the use of Woodward Park. She stated that testimony ranged from ending the use by adult soccer players completely to allowing the current rules to stand unchanged. She presented some information about hiring a security guard to help with the enforcement and said that a group of sponsors for non-Town groups is being organized as well. There was a lengthy discussion about enforcement, how residents want the field to be used, who should be allowed to use the field, Program Open Space requirements, Resolution 2011-07, allowing adult soccer play on only one (1) Sunday per month, removing the goalposts completely, maintenance issues, sponsor’s responsibility, fines if violations occur, changing the weekend day to Saturday, banning tournaments, increasing current permit fees and how Town fees compare to the County fees. Charlie Challstrom made the following points; Times have changed, especially from a maintenance and use standpoint. Our Town field has become a regional field for adult soccer which is contrary to the original intent. Taking down the soccer goals is a good option because it would engender varied use of the field. Montgomery County has started to address the adult soccer issue by directing play to the larger soccerplexes in the area. He urged the Council not to hire a security guard, to change the weekend day of play to Saturday and to remove the goals now while it is off-season. He also stated that doing things to discourage the current use would help the Town reclaim Woodward Park as a community park rather than a regional park. The current use has outgrown the Town. Councilor Alice Negin volunteered to organize a group of residents for a one-time meeting where they will review the current policy, the recent testimony and come up with some recommendations for Council consideration. The meeting is set for November 28th. In the meantime, no permits with be issued for spring soccer.
- Minor corrections were made to the October Council Reports. Joe Clark moved, Audrey Maskery seconded that the October Council Reports be approved for posting on the Town website. There was a discussion about the removal of invasive species along Ridge Road. A summary of what is going on will be included in the next Bulletin. The Mayor and Council also discussed a request from Kathie Evans for a memorial for her husband Bob, a former Mayor, Council member, Planning Commission member and PC chairman, who passed away earlier this year. Kathie would like to place one or two rocks with a plaque in Morgan Park or, perhaps, another spot. Alice Negin did a quick inventory of some memorials in Town. There are trees (with and without memorial signs), a rock at the McCauley Street entrance to the East woods, a small statue in Howard Park and several benches with memorial plaques. There was a discussion about the existence of a Memorials Policy. The Clerk indicated that she remembered one from around 1997 and that she would locate it and send the information to the Mayor and Council. Jane Seegal asked why pruning had not yet been done on a tree that was reported a while ago. She believes that the branches pose a danger to all who walk in the area. A discussion ensued about setting pruning priorities, the ownership of the tree, the ownership of her porch and the fact that a tree expert had examined the tree. There was no more discussion about the Council Reports. Vote: 6-0.
- Town Council Reports – November 2011 pdf
- Deer Park Bridge Update – Mayor Cole reported that meetings with Montgomery County Traffic Safety and with Montgomery County Drainage & Permitting folks were very helpful in the Town’s efforts to gather information about the effects of the CSX National Gateway Initiative on the Town.
- 300 Ridge Road (well failure) – Mayor Cole reported that she has been communicating with Robert Kronenberg from M-NCPPC about this issue. Mr. Kronenberg stated that M-NCPPC has no responsibility for exactly which homes are covered in the agreement to help with wells on Ridge Road should they become compromised. The Town and M-NCPPC are not likely to change their positions on this issue.
- Alice Negin reported that Myles Ambrose had approached Ann Briggs and Charlie Challstrom about an Eagle Scout Project. She asked the Mayor and Council to think about an appropriate project for Myles.
- Alice Negin asked if Mr. Krebs’ request to remove the Tulip Poplar tree would be discussed next time as she was concerned about the potential removal. Audrey Maskery agreed saying that it is a large, healthy tree and if we remove this tree we would likely be asked to remove a lot of other trees in our woods by other residents living around them. The Council discussed this and agreed that we would not allow the removal of a healthy tree. Audrey also reported that the Town applied to the MD Historical Trust for permission to remove two (2) trees that have been failing in health for a number of years and to fix a drainage swale around McCathran Hall.
- Bill Robertson reported that the roads have been marked for crack sealing by Teniseal. This will happen during our next stretch of dry above freezing weather.
- John McClelland asked about residents who have cars on their property that exceed the number allowed by the Town Ordinance. There was a brief discussion. This subject was tabled for another meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:02 p.m.