Residents are encouraged to participate in the public process as the Columbia Association (CA) Board of Directors and the boards of the 10 villages consider proposed legislation that would reclassify them as “nonprofit community service corporations” instead of homeowners associations.
The CA Board will hold a briefing and work session that will be open to the public. In addition, CA will host two public sessions for Columbia residents to testify about the legislation. Dates and times will be released once they are confirmed. Also, a commenting feature is available at ColumbiaAssociation.org/ProposedLegislation.
This proposed change would benefit CA and the villages, which predate the Maryland Homeowners Association (HOA) Act and whose unique operations do not fit well within the umbrella of that act, according to CA General Counsel Sheri Fanaroff.
While CA consists of about 37,000 properties, the average size of associations covered under the HOA Act is about 131 properties. And so when new legislation is introduced that could amend the HOA Act, it is written in response to a problem at a much, much smaller homeowners association that does not have the kind of structure or internal controls that CA does.
Those potential amendments, while beneficial to the average HOA, could have a detrimental effect on CA and the villages. For example, a proposal to require homeowners associations to provide printed budgets to every homeowner would have cost CA more than $500,000. (CA posts the budget online and provides copies to the villages.)
Such consequences are why CA has been spending at least $50,000 a year and numerous staff hours monitoring and responding to the more than 20 proposed amendments that come before the state legislature each year.
And such consequences are why CA is seeking to be reclassified, in order to avoid the need to keep reviewing legislation so often, determining its impact on CA and the villages, deciding how best to address each proposed bill, crafting an amendment or exception to the bill, speaking with state delegates and senators, and sometimes even testifying at hearings.
The proposed legislation, as written, would not change at all the way CA and the villages conduct their operations. The bill would cement, and in fact enhance, the same kind of protections and transparency provisions in the HOA Act.
To learn more, go to ColumbiaAssociation.org/ProposedLegislation.