March 11, 2013 – Commissioners Meeting Minutes

Town of Brookeville Commissioners Meeting Minutes
March 11, 2013
Present during the meeting were: Commissioner President Michael Acierno, Commissioners Sue Daley and Katherine Farquhar, Academy Manager Andrea Scanlon, Treasurer Susan Johnson and Clerk Diane Teague were present. Also present during the meeting were: President of the Planning Commissions Chris Scanlon, Planning Commissioner Debbie Wagner and Terri Hogan of the Gazette.
Report on Planning Commission Meeting: Chris Scanlon
Brookeville Farm Project – Mr. Sheehan’s attorney and architect presented sketches to the Planning Commission attempting to address previous concerns. The current scale is for 79 rooms which both the Planning Commission and the Town Commissioners deem to be too large. The Planning Commission does not see a benefit to the town that would warrant the time and resources required to rezone the parcel. Before refusing to initiate the rezoning on behalf of the town the Planning Commission is asking if there is any support on the Commission or among the residents of the town for the Brookeville Farms project. The proposed use is not permitted under existing zoning for the parcel. The town would need to create a new zone in the existing ordinance which involves public hearings and legal work. It is a lengthy and involved process. After a new zone is created it would be applied to the parcel. A new zoning map would be created. A new zone on a smaller scale than is being requested could be created if there were support. The main concerns of the Planning Commission are determining what is best for the town and providing the Owner with definitive answers about the prospects for approval/rezoning.
The new zone would be essentially permanent since it is difficult to revert to previous zoning if you are devaluing an owner’s property. According to Mr. Sheehan’s attorney Michele Rosenberg, anything smaller than the 79 rooms proposed is a non-starter. There is discussion of the project’s potential costs and benefits for the town especially in a scaled down version. The question is raised about whether a country inn with a maximum of 15-20 rooms would serve a need in the community. However, even a 12 room inn doesn’t fall under anything that is acceptable under current zoning. Mr. Acierno states that if the owner doesn’t see viability for less than 79 rooms then the town shouldn’t be affirmative about approving something on a smaller scale. Ms. Farquhar would like to see the business plan and expresses doubts about the demand for such a facility in the community. Possible benefits to the town include a proposal by Mr. Sheehan of a room tax that would accrue to the town and a site plan that would integrate the town and the inn site with walkways. Ms. Wagner raises concerns about unfulfilled promises made by Mr. Sheehan in the past. There isn’t data to determine if it would be more financially beneficial for the town to have an inn vs. four houses. It is determined that property taxes from four houses would more than cover the cost of the services the town would provide. The immediate cost to the town would be for legal counsel, and time. Mr. Scanlon states that most of the cost could be recovered from the applicant. The long term costs are difficult to determine and concern the viability of the project and the risk of having a vacant commercial property at the entrance to the town. It is
determined that any change in zoning should be strictly defined to avoid open questions about future use if the inn should fail or be sold. Ms. Wagner states that the question of broader support from town residents was settled during public hearings held when the property was purchased by Mr. Sheehan.
President Acierno states that any type of commercial development would jeopardize the bypass. The overriding concern is the negative impact any zoning change or any expressed intention to rezone would have on the long awaited bypass. Smart Growth policies regard bypass projects as incentives for growth and sprawl. For the first time the town is in an advantageous position with the county and it is a bad time to propose a zoning change. Ms. Farquhar states that State Senator Karen Montgomery has spoken out against raising any issue that would provide an excuse to stop the project. It is determined that Mr. Sheehan is free to develop the parcel for its intended use but should be advised to discontinue any development plans that requires a zoning change.
WSSC Sanitary Sewer Discharge in Brookeville:
Discussion: The sanitary sewage discharge on the WSSC property resulted in the spillage of 3.5 million gallons of raw sewage into the Reddy Branch. The spill was the result of a break in a 16” force main in Olney resulting in a discharge rate of 500 gal/minute. Ten thousand gallons is the threshold for what is considered a significant spill. WSSC attempted to keep up with the discharge by pumping it into trucks for removal. Mr. Acierno stated however that they were only able to keep up with about 10% of the effluent according to DEP and WSSC. When the offsite removal was slowed or stopped due to the weather the result was a geyser of sewage observed by Ms. Wagner. Ms. Farquhar observed that the remote location provided WSSC with cover and explains their complete lack of communication to town residents.
Mr. Scanlon reviewed the Consent Decree from a previous accident in 2004 when WSSC was sued by EPA. WSSC failed to execute any of the required responses listed in the decree. He states that WSSC should be held accountable to do what is stated in the decree. He also states that Brookeville should demand that WSSC explain what it will do to restore and monitor the environment and prevent future accidents. Questions about WSSC’s responsibility to test, monitor and restore are unknown at this point. It is resolved to send a letter to WSSC with the town’s concerns, complaints and demands for complying with the decree. It is also resolved to send a copy to the Maryland Municipal League with a request for advocacy and assistance with holding WSSC accountable. Likewise a copy will be sent to the Maryland Department of Environmental Protection for assistance with enforcing the consent decree and copies of reports.
Mr. Scanlon leaves at 8:40 pm
Approve minutes
Financial Report: Budget
Susan Johnson: The Loan for the Brookeville Academy is under budget and the final payment will be made on March 12. Excess: The street light budget $500 was over budget because of pole work costing
$3143. Utilities have gone up and the budget number for electricity has already been met. Propane may break even. Most of the cost overruns are electricity. All other categories look good.
Ms. Farquhar asks if higher electricity costs are related to increased rentals and if rental rates should go up accordingly especially for residents. It is resolved to provide a special cake from ACE of Cakes for the Town Meeting to celebrate the mortgage payout.
Academy Report
Rentals are up again from earlier in the year. There have been more calls for wedding receptions. Karen has terminated her weekly rental for yoga classes creating net loss compared to last year. Up to two requests to roast a pig on the lawn. Request denied for various reasons including open flame danger. On-site pig roasting service providers are allowed.
Andrea has working copy of directory/use to confirm addresses
Town Website
Susan Johnson discusses changes to the town website. The biggest change was to academy access and the Home page which doesn’t scroll anymore. Andrea and Susan want changes they requested such as changes in menu bars.
Adjourn at 9:30
Respectfully submitted by:
Diane Teague

June 10, 2013 – Commissioners Meeting Minutes

Commissioners Meeting Minutes
June 10, 2013
8 pm at  Academy Office
Present: Michael Acierno, Katherine Farquhar, Sue Daley, Susan Johnson, Andrea Scanlon, Diane Teague, Teri Hogan
Review of Annual Town Meeting: Town Meeting went well, and provided a lot of useful information, but there was low turn-out.
May Budget: approved
Academy Report: Rentals are similar with the addition of a booking by Donna Wills for a Tea.
Vinyl floors have been replaced and sealed. Problems with popping have been resolved. Wood floors have been refinished and came out well. Area of high traffic on first floor did not come out as well as the expected. Carpet will be replaced and new felt pads will be put on all the chairs. Andrea discussed the list of emergency procedures for the academy.
SHA Sidewalk Meeting: The meeting is scheduled for Wed June 26. Representative from the town will attend. If useful SHA representatives will be asked to present plans at next Commissioners Meeting.
Sidewalk repairs: Manfred did not return calls. Will follow up and talk to Buck about curb repair on Market St. in front of 212-206.
Drainage Issues on Water St.: Rain water drainage pattern is different. Karen Montgomery has complained about runoff that is flooding her garage. Neal Leary will be called to check out the problem.
2013-2014 Budget: Michael will review and make changes. It will be ready for signatures at next meeting on July 8. Meeting will start at 7:30 instead of 8:00 pm.
Gazette Article: Commissioners were concerned about an article in the Gazette that was critical of expenditures for the 2014 Celebration in the budget. Michael requested a follow-up article that would cover the events planned and clarify that the Town is spending only $10,000 and the remainder is from grants.
Problem Trees: The Burned tree on Deeds Wells property has had all the limbs removed but the trunk remains and is leaning towards the road. Call Bob Heritage to see if he knows who worked on the tree and find out if they are coming back. There is a tree in front of Jeff Issokson’s house that appears to be unstable. Andrea will ask Chris to find out whose property it is on.
Open Discussion:
Jean Athy inquired about using the academy on a weekly basis for a documentary film series. The academy is determined to be unsuitable for several reasons. Friday night rental income would be affected.
It isn’t clear if the group is expecting to pay full rental price. Too much light comes in the windows of the second floor room. The tables would have to be moved out weekly for seating in first floor room. The series is too political. It is agreed to offer the academy for one screening at no charge and suggest a list of alternative venues for the group to consider.
Adjourn 9:30 pm
Respectfully submitted by:
Diane Teague

May 13, 2013 – Commissioner Meeting Minutes

Annual Town Meeting
May 13th 2013
7:30 pm
Michael Acierno President of the Commission
Commissioners: Katherine Farquhar and Susan Daley,
Treasurer: Susan Johnson
Clerk: Diane Teague
Academy Manager: Andrea Scanlon
Introductory Remarks
Election Results: Congratulations to Sue and Catherine on their re-election and thanks for continuing to serve.
Staff changes: Cate McDonald has stepped down as Town Clerk and has been replaced by Diane Teague. Thanks to Cate for her excellent service. Cate is continuing as assistant to the Chair of the 2014 Celebration Commission Sandy Heiler. Thanks to Margaret VanGelder for serving as Planning Commission Secretary. The job was added to the responsibilities of the clerk. Thanks also for serving as the Election Supervisor.
Welcome new neighbors Matt and Teresa Pollack.
Budget and Finances:
General: The town is slowly seeing revenues come back to 2007 levels. There is an increase in state highway user funds bringing it up to slightly over one-half 2007 levels. In addition the academy mortgage has been paid off. This will save the town $27,000.00 per year
Budget: A Preliminary Budget was distributed and is based on income and expenses projected out to end of the fiscal year June 30, 2013. There are many expenditures coming up and these will be distributed over this and next FY. A large part of the expenditures are for the 2014 Celebration. Sandy Heiler is getting a lot of grant money. The town is holding $50,000.00 in reserve as matching funds, $10,000.00 are town funds and the remaining $40,000.00 is from previous grants. Additionally there will be expenditures for sidewalk repair and resuming landscaping services for maintenance and weeding. This service had been dropped to save money after the financial collapse which caused a drastic drop in revenues coming from the state.
WSSC Sanitary Sewage Discharge update: The commissioners sent a letter to Jerry Johnson, General Manager of WSSC with specific questions about the spill. Michael Acierno summarizes his responses: WSSC will inspect the entire Reddy Branch force main by the end summer 2013. WSSC agrees to keep Brookeville informed about the progress of the clean-up. WSSC complied with SSD protocols. Brookeville was not informed because there is not requirement to inform municipalities. New bill requiring WSSC to inform municipalities takes effect Oct 1, 2013. Michael Acierno will ask about what testing has been done and whether it is safe to walk in the area.
Historic Area Tax Credits
Scott Whipple: Historic Preservation Supervisor of the Urban Design and Preservation Division Montgomery County Planning Department.
Brookeville was designated a Montgomery County Historic District in 1986. It was designated a National Historic District in 1980. This means that the buildings within the town limits are protected. This protection requires review and approval for new construction, demolition and alterations to all structures. It also means that expenditures for these improvements are eligible for Historic Area Tax Credits. There are two types of tax credits available: county and state.
County Tax Credits are for owner occupied residences. The requirement for review and approval applies to all properties within the town limits whether they are historic or not. The county tax credit is also available to all properties within the town limit whether they are historic or not. The county tax credit is 10% of a minimum expenditure of $1000. The credit is applied directly to your property bill. If the credit exceeds your annual property tax the balance can be carried forward for five years. Eligible work includes: exterior alterations, roof work, siding, windows/doors/storms, gutters, downspouts and snow eagles, painting, rehab of masonry, carpentry any cyclical maintenance and any work requiring a HAWP. Accessory structures are included. Work that is not qualified is new construction, interior work and landscaping. How to apply: Download the application from the county’s website: There is a link on the right hand side for tax credits. The work must be done by licensed contractors. Save all your invoices and receipts. If an owner has expertise to perform the work they can submit for materials but not labor. Submit your application after the work is complete. For work completed in 2013 the deadline for applications is April 1, 2014. In the last five years the county has gotten 35 applications for HAWPs and five applications for tax credits.
State Tax Credits are for owner occupied residences. The State Tax Credit applies to historic buildings only. Both interior and exterior work is eligible for the credit. Eligible exterior work is the same as the county but verify before you apply. Eligible interior work would include things like new plumbing, a new furnace or plaster repair. The credit is 20% of eligible costs applied directly to your state income tax. Costs must be in excess of $5000 spent over two years. If the credit exceeds your state tax liability the balance is refunded by check. How to apply: From the tax credit page for the county application there is a link to the state application. Applications including scope of work must be submitted and approved before the work is done. The state legislature recently passed a law allowing localities to increase their credits to
25%. Montgomery County is set to make this change for 2014. Additional information: It is worth a call to the state in an emergency if you have something like tree damage to your roof that needs immediate repair. You would have to call the state or county to find out about retroactive applications. Historic walls might qualify if they are considered a historic feature but generally the credits are for buildings. Michael Acierno will discuss the Town’s eligibility for these credits at a later date. Hopefully the council will vote for the rate increase by June. Letters from residents supporting the rate increase will be helpful later but not now. For state credits anything built after 1979 would not qualify.
2014 Commemoration
Brookeville 2014 Commemoration Planning Commission is chaired by Sandy Heiler. Michael Yeshenko is the grants manager. The commission is planning events, doing research and writing grants to fund these activities. The commission has come up with a three part plan for the celebration.
Part 1. Series of small events to educate people about evens in 1814 in Brookeville.
a. History Symposium: Presentation of papers from historians at the MD State Archive and Sandy Heiler.
b. Children’s play produced by the White House Historical Society to be presented in Brookeville with Brookeville kids.
c. Musical expert of the period David Hildebrandt will lecture and perform.
d. Group presenting 19th century entertainment.
Part 2. Two day event with many things happening at once.
a. Living history reenactments: People in period costumes representing all the professions and activities of town life in 1814.
b. Archeological Dig at Miller Site. Various parts of the current dig will be open and a special pit seeded with artifacts will be open.
c. Reenactment of major events including influx of refugees, bank silver and senate documents hidden in the PO; quartering of troops and arrival of the president and his entourage.
d. Large Dinner to reenact Brookeville feeding those fleeing the fighting.
Part 3. Documentary Video to be finished late fall of 2014
General: The commission needs lots of volunteers to be re-enactors, costume makers, artisans e.g. weavers etc. Publicity will be provided through a grant plus various organizations including the White House Historical Society, the County’s Heritage Tourism office, the state’s War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission Brookeville is now part of Star Spangled Banner National Historic Trail. The commissions will hire a professional event planner experienced in heritage style events. Sandy is working on additional grants to provide: public toilets, shuttle service to and from parking in local elementary schools, crossing guards etc. Research supported by grants and supporting organizations about Brookeville will eventually be linked through the town website. White House Historical Association will have a blog beginning June 2014.
Open Discussion
Inn at Brookeville Farms update:
The Brookeville Planning Commission and the Brookeville Commissioners have voted not to approve a zoning change to allow the proposed 79 room expansion of the inn. The project’s possible impact on the completion of the Brookeville Bypass and long term risks associated with future uses were cited as reasons for the refusal. The property is zoned for four houses.
State Senator Karen Montgomery comments.
Brookeville Bypass has been funded. In general it was a tough legislative session covering difficult issues such as guns, compounding pharmacies and the death penalty.
Letter from Rick Alan – Michael Acierno reads a letter sent by Rick Alan who was president of the commission when the academy was purchased and renovated.
Burning of the Mortgage: Treasurer Susan Johnson and Commissioners burn the mortgage in a small fire in the academy yard.
Adjourn 10 pm
Respectfully submitted by:
Diane Teague