9 November 2015 | Approved: 14 December 2015
Mayor Joli McCathran called the regular meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Council Members Georgette Cole, Alison Faupel, Audrey Maskery,John McClelland, Bud O’Connor and Greg Silber. Also present were Treasurer Mary Challstrom, Maintenance Supervisor Steve Werts, Planning Commission Chairman Peter Nagrod and residents Charlie Challstrom, Mark Dubnick, Marida Hines, John Hutchinson, Terry Johnson, Meghan O’Connell, Gary Temple and Freda Temple. Patrice Klein arrived at 8:00 PM.
Approval of Agenda
The agenda was amended and approved by general consensus.
John Hutchinson asked for a status of the Automatic External Defibrillator request made for McCathran Hall. The Mayor and Council discussed cost, where to purchase one, training, and rules and regulations for use of the machine. John McClelland offered to check Montgomery County’s policy and Mary Challstrom offered to check pricing. John McClelland asked if Guardian, our fire alarm company, might be of some help. He will call them as well.
Approval of Minutes
Georgette Cole moved to approve the minutes of the Town Council meeting on October 12, 2015. John McClelland seconded the motion.
Vote: 6-0, as amended.
Georgette Cole moved to accept the Treasurer’s Report for October 2015. John McClelland seconded the motion. Treasurer Mary Challstrom gave the Mayor and Council copies of the completed audit report and asked that discussion of the report be put on the December agenda. Vote: 6-0.
New Town Website Presentation
Bud O’Connor reported Marida Hines has done a great job on the new site. Many citizens have looked at it and had input. Developing of the new site was a learning experience and truly a labor of love. Marida thanked the members of the committee for their help and explained her process and goals for the job. She reported the new site has our own “funky brand” but with updated functionality, modern technology, and improved search capabilities. She explained there were insufficient funds in the existing contract to complete adding the house histories, posting additional photos, converting various Town forms and the migration of the older minutes to the new site. There was a discussion about finding an intern to help complete various tasks and phase two (2) of the project. There was also a discussion about disclaimers and releases in reference to having pictures of Town children on the site. Marida reported she hoped to transfer the new site to the server this week and repoint the URL next week. The Mayor and Council thanked Marida for her excellent work on this job.
Audio System Upgrades
Bud O’Connor reported the acoustics were tested in McCathran Hall and the easiest way to improve the sound system is to purchase a new audio system. He suggested the purchase of alternate listening device units for use by people with hearing disabilities. Each receiver would cost approximately $250.00. By improving communication between the upstairs and downstairs in McCathran Hall, the device might help with the coordination between the two levels during the Holiday Show. Discussion of this will be continued at the December Town Council meeting.
Comcast Franchise Agreement
Ordinance 2013-03; Comcast Franchise Agreement was passed on June 10, 2013. Comcast and Montgomery County agreed on preliminary terms for a new franchise agreement in April of 2015. Once fully approved by the County, which is expected in December 2015, the Town process requires approval of an ordinance for the agreement and a resolution upon acceptance. Therefore, this was an anticipatory action in preparation of its acceptance.
Approval for Recreation Committee Events: Bud O’Connor will add Recreation Committee events to his monthly Council Report. In an effort to streamline the process, the Mayor and Council agreed when the Council Reports were approved for posting the recreation events will be approved as well.
Consideration of Text Change for Resolution 2011-03; Regulations for the Rental of McCathran Hall
Bud O’Connor reported proposed changes from $25 to $50 in the utility fee for a memorial service, a smoking prohibition within 50 feet of any entrance to the Hall (under Section 11). Actions on this resolution will be held until after the public hearing on December, 14, 2015.
Changes to Article II of the Town Code
Bud O’Connor explained the changes to this article came about with the amendments to Resolution 2011-03. New Section 7; Smoking in Public Buildings and Venues will read as follows:
“There will be no smoking within 50 feet of the entrances of McCathran Hall and Town offices. No Smoking within 50 feet of public playground equipment, and the shore of Maple Lake.”
Old Section 7; Conflict with Other Laws will become new Section 8.
Bud O’Connor moved to introduce Ordinance 2015-07; Ordinance Adopting Amendments to Article II, Sections 7 & 8 and set the public hearing date for December 14, 2015.
Georgette Cole seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0.
Zoning Text Amendment 2015-06; Ordinance Adopting Amendments to Article VII, Sections 3.327 and 4.2
John McClelland explained the changes to Article VII. The schedule for advertising the public hearing was discussed.
Audrey Maskery moved to introduce Ordinance 2015-06 and set the public hearing date for December 14 2015. John McClelland seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0.
Bud O’Connor moved to approve the November 2015 Council Reports for posting on the Town website. Alison Faupel seconded the motion. Georgette Cole directed the Mayor and Council’s attention to an e-mail about the Records Management Plan and asked if
Christian Skipper (Maryland State Archives) could attend the joint meeting of the TC, PC and HPC in January. All agreed and the meeting was set for January 25, 2015. Vote: 6-0.
407 5th Avenue – Mayor McCathran reported receipt of a letter from David and Min Bent requesting the Town pay for the boundary survey needed to settle the boundary issues between 407 and 409 5th Avenue. Mayor McCathran sent a letter to the Bents explaining this was an issue between neighbors and the Town would not get involved.
Bill MC 32-16 – Mayor McCathran reported Bill MC 32-16 Municipal Corporations – Closed Swimming Lake – Regulations will come up for before the Montgomery County Delegation on November 30, 2015. She, John Hutchinson, and Aquatic Expert Nate Simpson will testify at the Montgomery County Delegation hearing.
Block 11 Surveys – Letters were sent to property owners at #6 The Circle, #8 The Circle, 203 2nd Avenue, 315 Grove Avenue and 319 Grove Avenue asking for voluntarily compliance with the removal of privately-owned structures and other items from the alley accessing these properties. Audrey Maskery suggested everyone go to the alley with a copy of the survey in order to better understand the complications of the area.
Georgette Cole observed the new website has many photographs of Town children and suggested we need more guidance about publishing them. She said the new photos are lovely. The Council agreed stating the need for a policy is very clear. Mayor McCathran will ask the Town attorney for guidance.
There being no further new business, the meeting adjourned at 10:00 PM
TC REPORTS – December 2015
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION – Georgette Cole
Review Session – Draft Ordinance 2015-06: The Commission reviewed and discussed the draft version of Ordinance 2015-06 which relates to the rebuilding and construction of 6’ fences facing public land at homes in Block 11, and the definitions of a bay/bow window. A motion was made by Dave Stopak, seconded by Mimi Styles, to appoint Bob Booher, as the HPC chairperson, to send a letter to the Planning Commission with comments and suggestions from the HPC.
Meeting with Christian Skipper: The HPC agreed that it would be most beneficial for Mr. Skipper to attend the joint meeting of the TC/PC/HPC in January. A tentative date has been set for January 25, 2016, with a backup date of February 22, 2016. Bob Booher will talk with Mayor McCathran about setting up the meeting with Mr. Skipper. Bob Booher will also contact Mr. Skipper to invite him to the HPC meeting in January (prior to the joint meeting). The HPC feels it would be very helpful to discuss with him what key decisions the Town will need to make regarding the records retention and disposal schedule and ask him for a job description for the records management officer’s position. Bob Booher will also ask Mr. Skipper to provide an agenda in advance of the joint meeting to ensure everything runs more smoothly and efficiently. The HPC will also review and discuss their records retention and disposal schedule in more depth at the next HPC meeting to prepare a summary for the joint meeting in January.
Procedure Revisions: Dave Stopak has volunteered to prepare a document with recommendations from the HPC for modifying the current Building Permit application procedure. Bob Booher will request that this issue be added to the agenda for the January meeting of the TC/PC/HPC. Mimi Styles will also draw up a draft for the HPC checklist (HPC requirements pertaining to building permit applications) to review at the next meeting, as well.
Article IV Sections 5 Projects: The Planning Commission has recently changed the “special structures” listed under Article IV section 5 so decks and ramps now require a permit. The PC has asked if the HPC wishes to review decks and ramps. After much discussion, it was decided that no additions or modifications would be made to the 2003 document of structures HPC will not review.
New Business: Bob Booher noted that Maggie Range had talked to Mayor McCathran about the reconstruction of her steps in accordance with the Block 11 Survey. She has not yet dropped off her plans to Bob Booher for the HPC to review at their next meeting.
SHADY GROVE CROSSING – Georgette Cole
Nothing to report
WASHINGTON GROVE MEADOW CONSERVATION PARK – Georgette Cole
Nothing to report
MAPLE LAKE – Alison Faupel
The Town was contacted by a representative from Gaithersburg, Jermal Thomas, about the sentiment pond behind Girard Center. The pond has been pumped dry and the sludge was disposed of in the West Woods above Maple Spring and Lake. Mayor McCathran called the property manager, who assured her they would dispose of the dredged material and install a silt fence around the area. Steve Werts is monitoring their progress. On December 9, 2015, Mayor McCathran sent Mary Reigent, Property Manager, Girard Business Center Property Owner, Finmarc Management, Inc. a Public Ways and Permit Application. The application fee was waived due to the emergency nature of the contaminated sludge removal. Work is expected throughout the weekend with the work being completed within a week. Additionally, Ms. Reigent offered to remove the brush and leaf dumping behind 204 and 208 Washington Grove Lane.
PLAYGROUNDS – Alison Faupel
The next Playground Committee meeting will be held on December 17 at 7:30pm. The Committee will discuss equipment that will best fill the gaps for older children’s gross motor skill needs.
The Town’s Kompan representative is retiring this month; the Committee is working with the company to identify a replacement and get price estimates for the equipment.
SAFETY – Alison Faupel
Nothing to report
FORESTRY & BEAUTIFICATION – Audrey Maskery
Stadlers planted 10 trees;
1 Pin Oak, 1 Black Gum – Chestnut Avenue.
1 Red Oak, 1 Red Maple – Chapel Park.
1 White Oak – Oak Street.
1 London Plane Tree, 1 Swamp Oak – Woodward Park.
1 White Oak, 1 Black Gum – Zoe Park.
1 White Oak – Wade Park.
Two trees were removed from Morgan Park as both trees were in steep decline. After consultation with a Maryland licensed Arborist, it was decided the removal would be in the best interest of public safety due to close proximity to roadway and footpath. An additional dead tree standing well inside the wild area of Morgan Park, was topped and left as a wildlife tree.
The bases have been drilled out of the first two trees removed to prepare for future canopy tree planting. Additional trees will be planted Spring 2016.
All the new trees now have tree guards to protect from deer damage. These will remain in place until the tree is large enough to withstand both deer browsing and antler rubbing.
MAINTENANCE – Audrey Maskery
Picked up leaves from roads and walkways, deposited chopped leaves in East Woods to discourage invasive plants and improve soil quality.
Repaired street lamps on Brown Street extended. Purchased and installed new signs for tennis courts and Maple Lake.
Repaired John Deer 500 mower. Purchased new engine and installed engine in the Track Vac.
MEMORIALS – Audrey Maskery
Nothing to report
PLANNING COMMISSION – John McClelland
- 401 Brown St – preliminary plans for addition presented. Setbacks, lot coverage etc. were discussed as well as the role/involvement/timing of the HPC.
- 203 Second Ave has a new project manager to hopefully expedite the reconstruction.
Public Ways & Property Permits: Application received from WSSC for work to be done near Railroad St behind 414 Brown St
Block 11 Survey:
- Snider & Associates to install the final boundary/corner marker in the same location as a recently removed/filled pond. Steve Werts will then run lines to mark these boundary lines.
- Plans for relocating the rear stairs for 8 The Circle have yet to be presented directly to the HPC chair by the resident. The PC will follow up to ensure ordinance compliance.
- The Mayor, PC chair and Maintenance Supervisor inspected the area for resident compliance with removing encroaching items. Positive movement has been noted.
Parking on Boundary Street: Boundary St. vehicular parking presents a challenging situation as WG residents are located on only one side of the road way and a great number of the mentioned vehicles are owned by individuals who do not reside on Boundary St (or Silver Dollar Ct). Kathy Lehman contacted Montgomery County DOT who stated the following:
- Anyone can park on Boundary St.
- Cargo vans are not considered commercial vehicles
- WG could attain a petition from two thirds of the Boundary St. residents (which only has 3 homes) to restrict parking, however, parking of any vehicles would be prohibited.
- Fire and Rescue could be contacted to perform a night check for accessibility of Boundary St.
House Files: Forty three (43) properties completed.
MCCATHRAN HALL – John McClelland
Janitorial: Carol Mahaffey has assumed the hall’s cleaning duties.
- After an eight (8) year hiatus ant treatment has been reinstated with monitoring set on a more regular basis.
- The Summer In The Parks materials have been moved to the maintenance shed for storage.
- The hall broom closet located at the base of the stairs has been cleaned out and remodeled to serve its designed purpose.
- Steve Werts will attempt to allow access for inspection/repair of the Hall’s sprinkler system. The sprinkler system itself will be under review as the current outdated design may require potential replacement of the sprinkler heads and attached stem pipes.
ROADS & WALKWAYS – Bud O’Connor
Weather and leaves delayed the small potholes patching work. This repair work is not considered a long term fix, but spot patching.
Our street lighting had gotten to a critically low level. With Kathy’s help a sense of urgency was conveyed to Pepco. Lamps that were long on backorder were investigated, and temporary lamps installed to ease the situation. Pepco now feels they have a workable spare lamp count and will not allow that situation to repeat itself.
WEBSITE – Bud O’Connor
The website was released for use in mid-November; most would agree that it looks and performs very well; hats-off to Marida Hines and the Website Committee.
RECREATION – Bud O’Connor
Nothing to report.
WOODS GROUP – Greg Silber
The Woods Group expects to:
- provide copies and a summary of the report to the Town Council at its 14 December meeting;
- continue to review the report and begin listing specific actions (e.g., invasive removal) from it the Town might pursue in the coming months;
- provide a “first cut” of priority actions derived from the report and cost estimates, for Town FY 2017 budget-planning purposes, to the Council at its January meeting; and
- bring specific recommendations, including final FY 2017 budget recommendations, for woods management actions for the coming year to the Council in February.
The Group meets again Monday 4 January, 7:30PM.
CONTRACTS – Greg Silber
Our leaf collection contractors are active in Town and things seem to be going smoothly this season. Collection began 1 November and will continue through 1 January. Green Earth will continue to collect leaf piles in a systematic way throughout the Town – starting first with streets (for improve roadway safety), then walkways, working from one end of the Town to the other — so piles are (hopefully) not neglected for long periods. Report any piles that have lingered for an extended period to Kathy Lehman.
We have received the final report on managing the Town’s woods under contract with forester Bill Bond of Parkton Woodland Services. More on this under “Woods Group”.
The Town has renewed a “contingency, as needed” (e.g., if Town equipment breaks down) snow removal contract with RJ Landscaping. The contract will be billed against only if services are actually used. They were not needed last year.
INTERGOVERNMENTAL – Joli A. McCathran
On November 30, 2015 John Hutchinson, Chait, Maple Lake Committee and I testified in support of MC 32-16: Municipal Corporations – Closed Swimming Lake – Regulation before the Montgomery County Delegation. The testimony was well received.
On December 10, I attend the Maryland Municipal League Montgomery County Chapter Dinner. Senator Nancy King, Delegate Charles Barkley, and Delegate Krill Reznik attend as our guests as Washington Grove is the only municipality in District-39.
The “If I Were Mayor” state-wide essay contact is in full swing for Fourth Graders. I am visiting Washington Grove Elementary School to visit with the Fourth Grade classes to help and encourage students to participate. I am serving my 4th term as a member of the Maryland Municipal League’s Communication’s Committee. The theme is, “Rising to the Challenge.”