Columbia Association (CA) has scheduled two sessions for public testimony as the 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 Board has also scheduled meetings in which the proposed legislation will be discussed, all of which will be open to the public.
The two public forums will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 16, in the boardroom at CA Headquarters, which is located at 10221 Wincopin Circle. One forum will begin at 1 p.m., while the other will start at 7 p.m. Each will begin with a presentation on the proposed legislation from CA President Phil Nelson, followed by a period in which residents will have up to five minutes each to testify. The sessions will be recorded, and any questions that are asked during the testimony or via written comment cards will subsequently be answered online at ColumbiaAssociation.org/ProposedLegislation. A commenting feature is also available on the website.
On Nov. 1, the CA Board’s External Relations Committee will host a presentation and a question-and-answer session on the proposed bill with members of the Howard County legislative delegation, the Howard County Council and Columbia’s village boards. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at Historic Oakland (located at 5430 Vantage Point Road in Town Center) and is open to the public. There will be an opportunity for Resident Speakout.
CA Board members will be discussing the legislation at their regularly scheduled meetings on Thursday, Nov. 8, and Tuesday, Nov. 20, both of which will begin at 7:30 p.m. at CA Headquarters. There will be opportunities for Resident Speakout at the beginning of these meetings.
The proposed legislation in consideration 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 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.