These notes reflect Nancy’s viewpoint only.
The official minutes of the Columbia Association Board meetings can be found on the CA website at: https://www.columbiaassociation.org/about-us/board-of-directors
Nancy encourages you to send her your comments on her notes. Please reply to her directly at Nancy.McCord@ca-board.org
Columbia Association Board of Directors Meeting
March 22, 2018
- Chris Alleva spoke about HHC being less cooperative than they should be with the lakefront development. He suggests CA take a stand on these issues and take our concerns to the County Executive. He is concerned about the zoning issues at the County and suggests that CA needs to be informed and on top of things as they will be changing soon.
- Susan Campbell spoke about a zoning decision that disapproved what the RAC in Kings Contrivance had approved. There is a communications tower on property owned by a member of the RAC in KC. The question is how will the disapproval be enforced?
There was discussion about the role of the RAC, which is limited, compared to the Zoning Board that is broader and has enforcement ability.
- Paul Verchinski gave kudos to the Open Space department regarding the snow cleanup on bridges and pathways. He also spoke about Long Reach development. He has concerns about the timeliness of addressing the development of the Village. It will be at least another year if it is allowed to sit. He also spoke about EV charges for electric vehicles. He would like to see more of them in the town so we can be more energy efficient. The chargers now at CA facilities have a cost to them. The Metropolitan has one charger in a building with 380 residents. This is simply not adequate. Paul also said the facilities are losing members. People are going to the Y and other gyms. It has been suggested the CA Board look at what it can do for senior members.
- Eric Avant spoke about the new tennis barn. He said it was all great and looks bright and new. He appreciates the podcasts of the CA meetings. He is on the Harpers Choice Village Board but is speaking as a resident. He asked that the new village signs that CA had made for HC not be installed. The value is gone if all villages are not participating. He said the new signs are very sterile. This was Mr. Avant’s “big ask”.
- The Planning Board meeting for the Clarksville Erickson project was rescheduled for April 19. The Planning Board will also discuss the lakefront changes.
- The new Long Reach Tennis facility is very nice. Play has begun. There will be a grand opening in April. Date to be announced.
- There was a question about the open houses at the CA recreational facilities. 30 new memberships were sold. The Director of Sports and Fitness was pleased with the great response. The new sales people are trying to meet members out and about at the facilities. The Board will get reports in a few months to see how the new sales staff is doing.
- The tennis bubble is coming down. Two of the courts will become pickle-ball courts. Tennis people need the tennis courts for tournaments. The tennis committee asked certain courts are used for pickle-ball and the others for tennis.
- There are digital signs in each of the athletic facilities. These help get out information to members.
- Athletic Club closure planning began two years ago. After the Board approved the budget on February 22, CA prepared to inform the community of the changes that are about to take place and how CA finds places and means for members to continue their classes and workouts. For safety reasons, the entire facility must be closed while the changes are being made.
- There are 81 classes at Athletic Club now. There will be 73 classes moved to other venues to keep classes going. Tennis will be available in August. The courts are separate from the space being renovated. The artist’s rendering depicts a beautiful new space with many beautiful changes. People are welcome to go online to see the plans for the new AC (https://www.columbiaassociation.org/facilities/fitness/columbia-athletic-club/columbia-athletic-club-2018-renovations/). There may be additional classes moved but it has been difficult to find the space and the time to provide all the classes that the AC currently runs.
Report from the CA Representative to the Inner Arbor Trust Board of Directors
- Inner Arbor Trust reported that programming is continuing, including adding a number of child friendly programs. There is a new plan for the pathways. The IAT is progressing.
- The Audit Committee approved sending the new quarterly report to the Board. The Board has received them. Again it shows that we are losing membership.
Plan for CA to Assume Responsibilities for Commercial Covenants in the Columbia Community
- The Commercial covenants issue is very difficult. The Board has decided it wants to resolve this. CA is concerned with the complexity and uneven enforcement of the covenants. The Board wants to find a long term solution and wants to find a simplified system to resolve the issues. It may take time but it is our intention to remain engaged.
- This is part of an amendment that was suggested to the proposal to work with the County and other entities to create an efficient plan to work with the commercial covenants. The Board doesn’t want to be passive. The Board needs to have a sense of urgency that CA get on top of the covenant issue. CA needs to take a bigger role in the process.
- Some commercial covenants can be rolled into the zoning regulations. They need to have the same meaning for the community as they did 50 years ago. The Board would like to get HRD to the table to have these discussions. The Board wants to get a study done of the covenants and create a framework. What is the benefit of these? Are these covenants still needed?
CA Board Strategic Issues for the Next Twelve Months
- The Board discussed strategic plans for FY2019. I voiced concerns about what is being done now regarding the lakefront development, Snowden River Parkway & Gateway development, and the development of Long Reach Village Center. A strategic plan is needed but action is also needed. The County is planning now. They are not waiting for us to make a move, they are going forward. CA needs to be at the table and participate in the decision making processes. Another Board member echoed my concerns. The Board needs to take action not just talk about what our strategic plans are. CA needs to be heard in the County and at HHC. The Board needs others to know where we stand and what we want to see become of the development that is taking place.
- Gateway, Long Reach and downtown Columbia are major development areas and the Board must determine what we want to see in those areas. What is our vision? Gateway – will be an innovation district. What is an innovation district, how do we influence it, and is that the right decision to have an innovation district?
- The Gateway proposal is the first non-Rouse development. It was always industrial, but now the changes are about to take place. CA needs to get in early or our position will be lost.
- The Howard County Executive says this is a twenty year project. Now is the time to get involved.
- Long Reach Village Center needs to be redeveloped and it needs to be discussed this now. The CA Board did discuss the Long Reach Redevelopment project. The County Council voted 4-1 to postpone the approval of the development for at least nine months, until after the election in the fall and the seating of the new Council members.
- The reason the Council decided to postpone, after the Planning Board unanimously approved it, was, according to a letter from a Council member who voted against, there are 18 people who opposed the plan. 18 people in a village of thousands seems incredible. What power these 18 people wield. Four years ago the County declared the Village Center in Long Reach a blighted area. It was headlines in the newspapers. Now is the opportunity to resolve the problem of blight with a plan that has been welcomed, and accepted by the Long Reach Village Board, the CA Board, the County executive, and one County Council member, along with members of the Long Reach community that number in the thousands.
- If the redevelopment is put off another nine months, it will cost the Village, CA and the community great expense. People in Long Reach trying to sell homes will have difficulty because of the lack of resolution of the Village Center. The people who own property at the Village Center suffer. CA suffers, thus our annual charge holders suffer because they must help defray costs not covered by the money that would come from redevelopment. This is a lose – lose situation without the County Council having the courage to undertake this decision now rather than wait for another Council to be elected. The time to act is NOW. The Council can choose to decide this in April. Call your County Council member and ask them to show courage and resolve to help our community (https://cc.howardcountymd.gov/Contact-Us).
More Zoning issues:
- Membership needs to focus on what is a realistic penetration target for CA.
- There is discussion about changing New Town zoning of Columbia to the Euclidean zoning of the rest of the County. How do you take the Euclidean and make it meet the NT of Columbia? This will need careful scrutiny.
- There was a good deal of discussion about discussion and hand wringing but no action. The Board wants to make sure that there is urgency in our actions. We need to study, and then act on the issues about which we are most concerned. But the word act is critical. We can study, but not become paralyzed by studying and not acting. There is a lot going on in Columbia and CA needs to be at the table for the upcoming decisions.
The Board will focus on the following for the next 12 months:
- Continued development in Columbia
- Declining Membership in CA Recreational Facilities
- Land Development
- Millennial Task Force
Development Regulations Assessment and Annotated Outline
- The County has been working on updating and improving the zoning rules in Howard County. Because of NT (New Town) in Columbia, this becomes very complicated. The only development happening in Columbia is redevelopment. It is hard to administer the NT zoning. Those who try to work with the NT zoning have a difficult time. It is simply too complex and is time to update it.
Stay informed. Also, stay committed to Columbia. Please contact your County Council member today.
Thank you. Happy Spring! It’s here – it’s just a little slow in showing itself.