October 11, 2021 | Approved November 8, 2021
The regular meeting of the Town Council was held remotely via ZOOM Video Conferencing. The meeting was recorded.
Mayor pro tem Darrell Anderson called the meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:35 p.m. In attendance were Councilors David Cosson, Christine Dibble, Patty Klein, Barbara Raimondo, and Gray Yachup. Also in attendance were Treasurer Jean Moyer, Charlie Challstrom, Georgette Cole, and Tom Land.
Approval of Agenda
Patty Klein moved to approve the agenda. Dave Cosson seconded the motion. Darrell added Emergency Work on the Outflow Pipe at Maple Lake and an EV Charging Station to the agenda, Vote: 6-0, approved, as amended.
Resident Tom Land brought before the Council a proposal for the installation of a disc golf net in Woodward Park behind the fireplace. The Council discussed the proposal and concluded that this was a good idea. A discussion with Forestry & Beautification will take place.
Approval of Minutes
Patty Klein moved to approve the September 13th minutes of the Town Council. Dave Cosson seconded the motion. Patty Klein presented a number of amendments to these minutes. Some Councilors asked for additional time to review the proposed amendments. It was moved and seconded to approve the minutes with the understanding that changes would be forthcoming at the November TC meeting. Vote: 5 (in favor), 1 (abstention, Klein), provisionally approved, but that amendments to the September minutes will be reconsidered at the November Town Council meeting.
Patty Klein moved acceptance of the September 2021 Treasurer’s Report (PDF). Dave Cosson seconded the motion. The Treasurer addressed a few items. Vote: 6-0, accepted.
Joint TC, PC, HPC Meeting Update – Mayor pro tem Anderson commended HPC members David Stopak and Bob Booher (Chair) for setting up this meeting about demolition. The meeting was productive. HPC Chairman Bob Booher suggested that demolition of historic structures could be addressed in a “Preservation Ordinance”. There was discussion of enforcement and first steps towards an ordinance.
- Status of Maintenance Supervisor Search – Mayor pro tem Anderson reported a classified ad was placed in a Maryland Municipal League publication and on their website with a link to the Town’s website. Additional discussion included contacting the City of Gaithersburg and advertising suggestions (e.g. Home Depot bulletin board, Linked In, Indeed), and when an interview might take place (mid-November).
- Update on Exploration of Using Audio/Video Recordings as the Official Minutes of Town Council Meeting and posting to the Town Website – Barbara Raimondo reported nothing new on this subject at this time. She may have something for review at the next meeting.
- Emergency Work at Maple Lake – Mayor pro tem Anderson reported the berm and outflow pipe at Maple Lake had been compromised causing leaks and erosion, and that repair was needed as soon as possible. The work required was discussed which included bringing in machinery and an operator to cover the pipe (16-20 hours) and a potential cost ($1,500 – $2,000). Patty Klein moved to go forward with the repairs of the Maple Lake berm and outflow pipe. Barbara Raimondo seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0, approved.
Speed Hump on Lower Ridge Road – Update
Responses to the Council’s request for comment on installing a speed hump on lower Ridge Road were reviewed, with more opposed than in favor. Alternatives were discussed, including cutting the vegetation along the development side of the Ridge Road suggested and better placement of signs. Councilor Klein suggested that the installation of a temporary speed hump should be considered, as done in the past for other roads.
Action: The Emergency Preparedness and Safety Committee will look at sign placement and ask for help from John Tomlin, who initially made the request.
Replacement of the Gate on Brown Street – Update
Gray Yachup reported the gate had been opened, wooden bollards and identity fencing installed, and the appearance of the closure of Brown Street transformed. There was a discussion about safety requirements and additional support for the old gate in its open positions (support was judged adequate). Councilors were urged to look at the new and improved area.
Town Council Reports
Items of Note (See the full Council reports below).
- The Mayor pro tem noted that the monthly Council Reports document the large number of activities and accomplishments by volunteers and town representatives, and he recommended that residents be encouraged to read these on the Town website. Pat Klein moved to approve the Council Reports for posting on the website. Christine Dibble seconded the motion.
- The Council discussed further the Cherry Avenue access issue as it pertains to access to 108 Ridge Road which Councilor Dibble reported was taken up at the most recent Planning Commission meeting. She further suggested the Planning Commission review the history of the original agreement to terminate the access easements. A further discussion of access to 108 Ridge from Ridge Road occurred.
- Several other items in the Reports were noted.
- Christine Dibble, Barbara Raimondo, and Charlie Challstrom are working on a teaching tool to help people understand the difference between a Resolution and an Ordinance and when to use them. Councilor Dibble has made many changes to the website and she urged the Council to read and review the new information. She thanked Charlie Challstrom for his help.
Vote: 6-0, Town Council Reports accepted and will be posted to the website.
There was none.
- Bollard-style Lights at McCathran Hall: The Lighting Committee would like to add one (1) additional light to the path. Approval from the Maryland Historic Trust should be obtained for all four of the lights.
- Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations: Because the Town has made a commitment to reduce greenhouse gases, some think an EV Station should be installed in Town. Among nine locations proposed by the Sustainability Group and the Mayor, the following are being evaluated in consultation with Pepco:
- McCathran Hall parking lot
- Tennis court parking lot
- Chestnut Road shoulder near McCathran Hall
- Commercial corner
More rapid Level 2 chargers (240V input) are being considered compared the slower Level 1 (120V) chargers.
Initial discussion included:
- The six homes that have no access for EV charging
- Whether Maryland Historic Trust approval would be required for an installation near McCathran Hall
- Whether a Pepco installation with private financial gain on Town land was appropriate, or potentially prohibited by Town Ordinances.
- Referring this to the Planning Commission and Historic Preservation Commission to address EV charger design questions, profit-making, and license agreements.
- The need for wider Town review of an EV charger installation.
Dave Cosson made the following motion:
That the Planning Commission, and the Historic Preservation Commission are requested to review the Pepco proposal to install electric vehicle charging stations adjacent to Chestnut Road and elsewhere, separately or jointly as they prefer, and provide their recommendations to the Council at its November 2021 meeting. This review should address, as a minimum the following questions:
- whether the charging stations are by design consistent with the appearance expected of facilities in the Town and with its designation on the National Historic Register;
- whether the installation of a commercial profit-making facility open to the public is consistent with Town zoning requirements and policies respecting commercial activity in residential areas; and
- whether the proposed License Agreement could be executed consistent with state and county law and the Town’s Charter, Ordinances and policies. Further, that the Mayor is requested to take such actions as he deems sufficient to ensure that Town residents are familiar with the Pepco proposal, including circulating photographs of the two types of charging stations and a map identifying the proposed location(s).
Patty Klein seconded the motion.
The Mayor pro tem and Council also discussed the following in connection with the above motion:
- Taking advantage of Pepco’s offer to install public charging stations at no cost to the Town.
- The number of stations that might be installed
- The need for further details from our Sustainability Group
- Possible informational meeting for Town residents
- Servicing and maintenance responsibilities for the stations
- Having an unregulated station in Town
In order to refresh everyone’s memories, the motion was read and seconded again.
Mayor pro tem Anderson thanked Charlie Challstrom and Georgette Cole for their assistance in managing the Zoom Videoconference. There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 9:30 p.m.
Kathryn L. Lehman
Reports from Individual Councilors about their Areas of Responsibility
Table of Contents
- McCathran Hall
- Maryland Municipal League
- Roads and Walkways
- Shady Grove Crossing
- Washington Grove Conservation Park
- Website and Communications
Reports about Activities of Grove Commissions
Historic Preservation Commission (Darrell Anderson)
The HPC held a virtual meeting on September 11, 2021; the next meeting will be held on October 19, 2021, at 7:30 pm by virtual means.
The HPC did not have any permits to review.
The Woods Committee presented proposed trail signs for the woods. The HPC said they were in keeping with the type of signs they would encourage.
The HPC held a discussion on their submission to the Multiuse Pathway Task Force. After edits, the statement was approved and will be submitted.
The HPC reviewed and discussed materials for the upcoming joint session of the town Council/HPC/Planning Commission on demolition, including the agenda. It was decided that there are many issues that could be discussed, but they would like the focus to remain on demolition.
Because of problems with the Town website for viewing the entire historic review application, the HPC recommends that a link be provided on the Town website that links to the Medusa program.
The HPC will be reviewing and responding to comments from the MHT on the Town’s Comprehensive Plan.
Planning Commission (Christine Dibble)
Applications for Building Permits and Public Ways and Property Permits
- The PC will defer the proposed relocation of the shed at 412 4th Avenue (Foreman) until the homeowner resolves the survey dispute re: the boundary between 412 4th and 414 4th.
- An emergency permit will be granted for 206 Chestnut Avenue (Moyer) — resolution of water leak.
- Comprehensive Plan: The PC is holding a work session (open to the public) on October 20 to address comments on the draft plan received from the Maryland Department of Planning.
Reports about Activities of Grove Committees
Border Committee (Pat Klein)
The Border Committee met on September 9, 2021 to discuss the following issues:
Town welcome signs. The RFP was reissued last month for bids on producing three welcome signs. All bids received will be opened at the September 13th Town Council meeting with expectation that one bid will be accepted.
Identity Fencing. Town maintenance has completed installation of identify fencing at designated Avenue intersections along WGL and RR streets. The West Woods corner of WGL and Day Lilly Lane was cleared of downed tree limbs and non-native vegetation to prepare for installation of a welcome sign and identity fencing. The Woods Committee will plant two native understory trees behind the Welcome sign. Soil and wood chips will be placed along 4th Avenue to improve walkway safety, prevent further erosion, and protect exposed tree roots.
Commercial Corner: The dumpster will be moved by end of the year. Plans are being made to trim or remove several bushes along WGL near the commercial corner driveway to provide a safe sidewalk path.
Border Committee input to the Shared Use Path Task Force: In alignment with the Committee’s mission statement to “make residents living along the border areas of WGL and RR street feel a greater sense of inclusion within the town”, Committee members made some efforts to enhance the pedestrian path between TWG and Shady Grove Crossing. This path also has been budgeted by MC-DOT as a shared use path connection. The Committee reached consensus to submit this information to the Task Force as impartial documentation for consideration.
The next Border Committee meeting will be on October 14, 2021.
Dog Park Committee (Christine Dibble)
Grove dogs and their owners are meeting most weekends on Saturday or Sunday mornings for playdates.
Emergency Preparedness and Safety Committee (Pat Klein)
The Committee met on September 30, 2021 to discuss the following issues:
Shared Use Path Task Force – Summary of Safety Issues: EPSC prepared a list of general safety issues that the committee has identified over the last several years relevant to any shared use path connection to the Town. Specific safety concerns include:
- Risk to pedestrians, baby strollers, and bicyclists posed by speeding motor vehicles
- Line of sight considerations at town road intersections and driveways for increased volume of pedestrians, bicyclists, other shared path users
- Consideration of any enhanced or modified road/path maintenance requirements and associated town costs and liability to promote pedestrian and bicyclist safety
- Consideration of any enhanced or modified snow/ice removal requirements to promote pedestrian and bicyclist safety
- Consideration of any enhanced or modified road/path signage to promote pedestrian and bicyclist safety
- Road/path lighting requirements and costs to the Town to increase visibility for increased volume of pedestrians and bicyclists along Town roads and walkways.
The EPSC will submit this list of safety issues to the Shared Use Pathway Task Force for consideration.
Draft letter from Mayor to County re: speeding vehicles on Washington Grove Lane and Railroad Street: The EPSC will draft a letter for the Mayor to send to county officials requesting action on the following issues: an evaluation for speed cameras on WGL and Railroad Street; new or enhanced speed bumps on both streets; and a reduced speed limit on WGL. This letter will follow-on to similar correspondence submitted to the County by concerned Town residents.
The next meeting is scheduled on October 28th, 2021.
Forestry and Beautification Committee (Barbara Raimondo)
The Committee met on September 8th and agreed to divide the proposed planting sites for this fall into two groups. One group will focus on the Grove Avenue replacements, the other on Woodward Park. Audrey will lead one team (WWP) to select planting sites, Jay the other (Grove Ave). Members will join one or both to mark tree locations. Audrey and Jay will each head a group of two to buy the trees at Stadler. Approximately 16-18 trees will be installed in October and November.
Lake Committee (Gray Yachup)
- Measurements and reports: The last two measurements of E. coli have been within acceptable parameters.
- Flora and fauna: No major changes to flora or fauna.
- Miscellaneous: The Lake Committee had a great meeting with RASEC regarding inclusivity and methods of de-escalation at the Lake. I look forward to the continuing dialogue between the two committees.
Lighting Committee (Dave Cosson)
Nothing to report.
Racial and Social Equity Committee (Barbara Raimondo)
RASEC and the Lake Committee held a meeting to discuss several incidents that appear to have a racial component:
- One where a Black man came through the open gate and residents felt threatened.
- One where a resident and her Black guest were approached by neighbors and felt racially profiled. This occurred on at least two occasions, yet when this same resident brought white guests no one questioned them.
After a cordial and productive discussion they determined next steps:
- Research de-escalation training for lifeguards and other residents, if desired.
- Create a message for residents for the website & bulletin clarifying roles of lifeguards and residents.
- Update the official enforcement protocol for lifeguards.
- Look into appropriate sign translation.
- If action is taken regarding de-escalation and translation, follow up on requesting funding.
The groups will reconvene sometime around Thanksgiving.
Recreation Committee (Gray Yachup)
- Halloween will be from 6-9 p.m. this year, and additional details regarding COVID regulations will be released in the Town Bulletin.
Woods Committee (Dave Cosson)
The Woods Committee (WC) met on October 4th by Zoom and discussed the following:
The season opened September 10th. Since then one doe has been taken.
Trail Maintenance Projects
Woods Use Rules: Following discussion at the September Town Council Meeting, the Committee determined to reexamine its proposed rules. Included in this reexamination will be consideration of whether different approaches to construction and routing of trails would permit greater flexibility in regulations. In conjunction with this reexamination, a request for residents’ comments was posted in the October Town Bulletin. Information and questions discussed by Committee members included reports of bicycle riders going off trail; failure of walkers to remove their dogs’ waste; how/to whom to report problems; what right of way priorities should be established on trails used by both bicyclists and walkers; communications with neighboring communities; and the need for more accurate mapping including location of wetlands.
Consultation with HPC on Sign Design: The Committee has reviewed the proposed use of signposts similar to the one on the Shady Grove Crossing entrance to the Conservation Meadow. The HPC indicated agreement with the approach.
Trail into West Woods from Daylily Drive: In response to a request from two residents, the Committee will examine the best location for a trail to allow Daylily Drive residents to access the West Woods and Maple Lake without having to cross and re-cross Washington Grove Lane.
Fall Workday: November 11 was selected as the day for volunteers to help with the rerouting of the Bradford Crossing. Town Maintenance will be asked to move soil for covering the recently placed culvert as close as possible. Other tasks will include clearing greenbriar, establishing the new trail and closing the existing one.
Future Timber Turnpikes: Committee co-chairs and Town Maintenance conducted a walkthrough of a portion of the East Woods with a Montgomery County trails official to gain information on criteria used by the County in constructing and regulating use of trails. Suggestions provide included routing some trails away from chronically wet areas; allowing mixed bicycle use on appropriate trails, but not on others; constructing trails using the “fill and tilt” approach to promote natural drainage. The Committee plans to examine these and other ideas and report back to the Council this winter.
American Rescue Plan Funding of Stormwater Projects
In the light of Mayor Compton’s notice that funds were available for certain uses if completed by 2024, the Committee determined to review prior efforts to control erosion in the West Woods and investigate application of the federal Clean Water Act and possible cooperation with Gaithersburg and the County.
Comment to Shared Use Path Task Force
The Committee again discussed relevant input to provide to the Task Force and reaffirmed its prior conclusions that the Task Force should consider: some areas being considered previously designated for afforestation or as designated wetland, and the importance of maintaining an intact “green buffer.”
Next Meeting: Monday, November 1st, 7:30 pm
Reports about Other Grove Activities
Contracts (Dave Cosson)
The contract for new entrance signs with SignCity is ready for signature by Mayor or Mayor pro tempore.
McCathran Hall (Barbara Raimondo)
Nothing to report.
Maintenance (Darrell Anderson)
The season for steady grass-cutting is winding down, but the continual rains are still making the grass and brush grow. Much of maintenance time required grass-cutting, brush removal, and trips to the dump. Purchased gas when needed. Completed paperwork as required. Worked in the maintenance shop if needed or weather dictated.
- Took down flags along Grove Road.
- Took down the diving board at the lake.
- Met with Bruce Rothrock about hauling dirt to the lake for repair of the outflow drain.
- Met with Audrey to discuss F&B fall tree planting.
- Cleaned the weeds out of the flower bed at the front entrance.
- Worked in the Circle removing invasive plants in area between 4th & 5th Ave.
- Met with Myers & Laws to go over tree work. Went over stumps to be ground with Myers & Laws.
- Went to Grainger to pick up parts for streetlight – repaired light on Daylily Lane.
- Cut up fallen limb on Cherry Ave and one on Dorsey blocking the path in the woods. Cut up a fallen limb that fell across Acorn Lane (by 418 5th Ave)
- Met with Georgette and Jay (F&B) about tree planting at Brown & Grove Ave.
- Started hauling dirt and wood chips on 4th Ave between McCauley and Washington Grove Lane (refurbishing the walkway).
- Removed a dead yew in the gazebo area to clear for planting of new trees (F&B).
- Put items used for Labor Day back on the warehouse shelves. Cleaned the warehouse
- Cut up a down tree on Maple Ave a & loaded it on the truck.
- Started working on the border fence at Brown Street and Hickory Road. Installed new walkway sign at Brown and Hickory and finished the border fence at Brown and Hickory.
- Drilled holes in the asphalt for a new walkway sign. Painted signpost.
- Checked Chestnut Ave walkway for flooding and Cherry Ave for drainage.
- Met with Patty Kline and Dave Cosson to go over new border fence at Brown and Hickory.
- Worked on spreading wood chips under the jungle gym.
- Cleaned the bathrooms for the BluestoberFest at the gazebo.
- Met with Patty, Joan and a representative from Montgomery County parks in the East Woods. Worked on cleaning the ditch entering the East Woods.
- Changed the post from one to two posts at Brown and Hickory border fence.
- Checked the electric at the gazebo for the Bluestoberfest.
- Removed stump grindings where tree was removed in the park and filled the area with topsoil.
Maryland Municipal League (Darrell Anderson)
The MML held a virtual meeting on September 23th, the first meeting after the summer lull began in June. The MML will hold an in-person Fall Conference on October 13-14. Details to be distributed later. The next Montgomery County MML meeting will be held October 21; it has not been determined whether this will be virtual or in person.
Montgomery County health officials presented current information and data from the Pulse data set on COVID-19 status of the County. The County is #1 in vaccination rates for U.S. counties with more than 300,000 population; Maryland is #1 for states. Among all eligible county residents, more than 90% have had at least one dose. Case rates and hospitalizations continue to decrease. Most encouragingly, the age group 12-17 years of age is vaccinated (1 dose) at 90%; this is allowing schools to stay safely open. The current community spread rate is 2.8%, the lowest in Maryland. The Pulse database is updated every Wednesday and can be found on the Montgomery County website. There was concern from Mayors that the County is not pushing mandates as hard as possible. The County says they ae studying the impact on County workers if a mandate is exercised.
MML is still working on the tax duplication issue with the County and should get answers soon.
Playgrounds and Tennis Courts (Christine Dibble)
Nothing to report this month.
Roads and Walkways (Gray Yachup)
The replacement barrier at Brown Street has been successfully installed. Work is pending on Daylily Lane’s areas of issue, as well as the normal scheduling of road maintenance. This will most likely wait until a successor is chosen for Steve.
Shady Grove Crossing (Barbara Raimondo)
Nothing to report.
Washington Grove Conservation Park (Upper Field) (Dave Cosson)
Nothing to report.
Website and Communications (Christine Dibble)
I have completed my review and reformatting of the website’s 100+ pages. I am currently:
- Identifying content owners for all pages and asking them to review page content and send me updates;
- Populating the sortable tables of all Town ordinances and all Town resolutions, and identifying gaps in these tables.