Friday, October 16, 2009

Chevy Chase Town Council Meeting

The following is an unofficial summary of Wednesday's Town Council Meeting:

Energy Audit and Improvements Program
The Council held a public hearing on the Environment Committee’s proposed program sponsored by myself at which one resident testified in favor. During discussion, Mayor Strom proposed making the program a matching program rather than a reimbursement program but Councilmembers Barnes, Lang, and myself thought that would be unnecessarily complicated for both staff and residents.

The Council agreed by consensus that more work was needed on specific language but then unanimously voted to approve the program. The Energy Audit and Improvements Program will allow a resident to receive $200 towards a BPI Certified Energy Audit and an additional $400 for work recommended by the audit conducted by a licensed contractor. Alternatively, if the resident may receive up to $600 towards payment for work if no Town funds were received for an audit.

Appropriation for Consulting Water Management Program
The Town Council unanimously appropriated $20,000 for the Consulting Water Management Program.

Variance Hearings
The Town Council unanimously approved variances for a deer fence at 7101 Meadow Lane and from the front yard setback and wall plane length requirements for an addition at 4429 Bradley Lane.

Election Ordinances
The Town Council heard from Costis Toregas, Chair, and Brenda Lizzio, Member, of the Election Board on three proposals. The first proposed ordinance would establish terms for members of the Election Board with one member designed to rotate off each year to provide for continuity and renewal of the Board. The Board would be appointed by the Council.

The second proposed ordinance would move the filing date for Town Council elections up to four weeks from the current two in order to allow the Board more time to conduct activities related to election campaign to inform voters and maximize turnout. The third proposed ordinance would clarify provisions related to absentee voting in order to protect recent progress made towards making it easier for Town residents to vote by absentee ballot.

The Council unanimously voted to introduce the ordinances and to hold public hearings on them at the November meeting.

Building Code Amendments
Dedun Ingram, Chair of the Land Use Committee, presented on proposed changes, primarily of a technical and housekeeping nature to the building code. Some of the changes were referred back to the LUC for further consideration and consultation with Town Attorney David Podolsky as to proposed language. Councilmember Lang and I both voiced strongly our belief that the highly complex wording needs to be explained in clear language prior to Council consideration or a public hearing. Mayor Strom agreed in an email after the meeting and suggested that introduction of these ordinances be delayed until proposed language and explanations are finalized.

Mid-Year Meeting
After discussion, the Council decided not to have one this year with several commenting on the relative popularity of alternative social events sponsored by the Town such as the recent Centennial Progressive Dinner and the upcoming Oktoberfest.

Decorative Crosswalk and Stop Sign
The Council heard from a resident regarding the replacement of a decorative crosswalk at Rosemary and Meadow. The Council agreed by consensus to replace this crosswalk as it was before the recent repaving work and that the Public Services Committee would consider an approach towards future crosswalks. Earlier in the meeting the Council unanimously approved a new stop sign at Maple and Aspen.

Street Lighting Evaluation Update
Councilmember Lang provided a very helpful quick update on the street lighting evaluation. The contractor has identified dark areas in Town—the Town is below average in terms of lighting—and is also beginning to identify potential approaches. All members of the Council agreed on the importance of public consultation as to any proposed changes as one could go a number of different ways depending on preferences for more or less lighting on streets.

Snow Removal for Seniors
The Town will compile a list of Town teens willing to shovel driveways for payment to make it easier for Seniors to locate someone to do this if they choose.

Postponed Issues
The agenda being hopelessly ambitious, the Council postponed discussion of the proposed Tree Survey and Noise Control ordinance until next month.

The meeting adjourned at around 11pm when Councilmember Lublin pleaded for mercy--received with much unexpressed joy on the part of the ill Town Manager and unhappiness on the part of Councilmember Burda whose excellent question on street lighting was rather rudely interrupted by your gentle correspondent. My apologies to Pat.