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 [email protected]
Columbia Association Board of Directors Meeting
April 26, 2018
- Ingrid Pyne spoke about Haven on the Lake and the dispute between the spa and CA.
- Jeff Domber, Huntington resident since 1990, spoke about the trail in Huntington. He is very concerned that the link for families and hikers who use the trail system should be safe. He fears with the proposed changes there could be a tragic problem that he and others are trying to avert a tragedy. There should be no vehicles on that roadway. The trail is heavily used. He hopes to keep vehicles from the trial
- Richard Briggs echoes what Jeff said about the trail. He said it is awkward. There is a trail and a short road that belongs to the County. He says CA and the County have been working with the developer to get concessions. The community was not involved at all. The County needs to involve the community and CA before decisions are made. The developer is not budging. He is not willing to change the entrance to the storage units. Developer is concerned about traffic on Guilford Road, run-off and the lay of the land.
- Harry Dunbar told of his terms of service in Columbia. He is asking that CA keeps the Neighborhood Centers open.
- Keith Heilvel, Golf and Greens Committee Chair, thanked the Board for considering a beverage cart for Fairway Hills. He supports it.
- Ken Walsh spoke in favor of the beverage cart. He is concerned that one group of golfers would be treated differently than other golfers. He would like golfers to be treated equally.
- Chris Alleva spoke about why New Town (NT) Zoning protects people’s uses of the land. The County is treating the NT zone like standard zones thus only the Council can change land use. Any owner in the industrial parks in Columbia can change the use. All the tools are in place now. You can do anything you want, you just have to do it the right way.
- Chris explained there were new rules developed for the new development. He feels that the County is handling things administratively rather than legislatively. Land use is prone to corruption. There are five people on the Council so the decision is shared by these five people. To make changes the zone must be re-set. DPZ is handling NT as if it were M1. It is unfair to the land owners. Chris was rebuffed by the office of law. There are no regulations. Chris is basically ignored and is trying to make headway. (Note. It is not clear that New Town zoning is being treated as M 1 because the land in question is not CA property but abuts CA property.)
- Jerry Ueckermann lives in Huntington. The property in question is the only four story self-storage in the area. The Patuxent Branch Trail touches CA and County property. There have been proposals to put the entrance off Guilford but the developer doesn’t like that. He says the grading is bad. The County proposes another trail with a grass strip with boulders. He asks that CA accept that proposal as a last resort. There are other options that could be safer and better for users of the trail.
- Ruth Hughes is a long time resident of Phelps Luck. She appreciates adding the gun violence awareness issue to the agenda tonight. There are a number of people in Howard County and Columbia who are working to support action on reducing gun violence. Maryland is one of the safest states in the country. Seven children and teens die in this country daily. The homicide rate is 25 times greater than any other industrialized County. She asks that people wear orange on the first weekend in June. They are working hard to bring attention to this important issue of gun violence.
- Ginger Scott congratulated the Board on their re-election. She spoke about the liquor Board and selling wine or beer on a cart on the golf course.
- Joel Hurewitz thanked Milton Matthews and Dennis Mattey and discussed Guilford Road and the parking issues. He said the County said this is a public road. It was brought out that this road doesn’t get plowed when there is snow. It may be public, but isn’t treated as a road.
- Lewis Shipp spoke in support of selling beer and wine from a cart on the course at Fairway Hills. He discovered that it was clear that there are 79 houses that border the course. 2/3 of the houses are occupied by people who knew the course was there when they bought it.
- Jen Hayaski lives on Whetstone backing to Fairway HIlls. She has lived on golf course and it never occurred to her about whether or not to have a beverage cart on the course. She feels golfers are there to golf. They don’t want to play worse than they already do play by getting drunk while playing. She supports the beverage cart.
- Bill Harris lives in Long Reach and is Vice Chair of the Greens Committee. He thinks the beverage cart would be a big plus for golfers. He came from a meeting and says many others support it too.
- Whitney Schreiber spoke about the neighborhood centers. They chose their home based on the community convenience of a center that includes a co-op nursery. There may have been misinformation about the centers but there will be a lot more push back if CA tries to get rid of these centers. She understands the centers don’t make money but they do support the organizations in the centers.
- Nicole Huber spoke about the neighborhood Centers. She moved here from Singapore in 1990. She spoke of how unique Columbia is because of the centers. She spoke of the diversity of the group. The parents who volunteered at the co-op nursery now volunteer in the public schools in Howard County. If she wants a mall or a restaurant, she can do that anywhere but if she wants a special place, the centers create the specialness. Not everyone can afford to join Supreme Sports Club. CA’s vision is to make Columbia a place of choice. The centers help create that.
- Peter Barnes spoke about the Patuxent Trail. He asked what CA has done to redesign the building and pathway. CA has not done its job by not bringing this issue to the Board in advance. This is a failure of CA staff. Aesthetics aside, the problem needs to be resolved.
- Christiana Rigby spoke about the Patuxent Trail issue. She said the village should have been informed early on about this issue but wasn’t. They are not happy. She also spoke about the neighborhood centers and how important they are.
- Kelly Zwada spoke in support of the neighborhood centers and co-op nursery schools.
- Bob Somers spoke in support of the sales of beer from carts on Fairway Hills.
CA won an energy award for their work on renewable energy.
- There was discussion about how CA is doing as far as memberships, rates, and structure. The Board also looked at the fees and determined these need to be examined carefully. Board members hope to spend time on this in the next fiscal year starting May 1.
- It is anticipated that when the Athletic Club closes April 29 for 6 months, the other clubs will be crowded. Staff and members will be disrupted. It is imperative to make sure people are getting what they want.
- CA has hired a sales staff to help sell new memberships. It was said that most families buy the fit and play and single members buy Play only. I disagreed with that. The Play membership is too limiting. Many people including me, use the fit and play because we use a couple facilities. CA needs to look at these costs more closely.
Board Discussion: Patuxent Trail and the Storage Facility to be Constructed on Old Guilford Road
- Valdis Lazdins, Howard County Director, Department of Planning and Zoning, was at the meeting. Dennis Mattey, Columbia Association Director, Open Space and Facility Services, said the location off Guilford Road shows CA is a big landowner in the area but the County owns the infill area surrounded by CA.
- The developer asked for utility easements. If CA gives easements the property would be under the annual charge. Does the entrance off Guilford Rd make sense? The developer never responded once they heard they would be under the annual charge. They began the development process assuming they needn’t go to CA. It appears they were correct. The County has given approval with no look to CA for their views before approving the plan.
- I brought up an issue that has been bothering me. CA staff was informed of the change to the area about 1 1/2 years ago. Then it was dropped because the developer never responded to what CA proposed. The owner went to the County and got approval for construction of a storage building four stories high. The CA Board was just very recently informed of this plan. CA Board needs to be informed as early as possible when something comes to their attention. We have been muted. We must not be muted. We must use our voices as advocates for our community. The County is doing its thing and doesn’t want to be bothered by CA intrusion. This cannot be allowed. It is not clear whether it is CA staff making the decision to work with the County without informing the Board, or if it is the County not informing CA. It appears CA was informed by the County initially, but the staff did not inform the Board. This must be corrected in the future. We are not able to take a stand, and have input into property that affects CA landowners and lien payers. Communication, communication, communication!
- Other Board members jumped on board and said the County needs to look at this and the impact it has on the community. CA owns the property surrounding the new storage facility. There was a good deal of concern about how this issue has been handled.
- Mr. Lazdins said this property was zoned residential. There had been a house on the property that has been removed very recently. In 1985, it was re-zoned M1 allowing a plethora of uses including storage facilities. In 1992, the Rivers Corp Park, just across Guildford Road from the property, was started. Old Guilford Road is a County road. It is zoned NT open space. It’s only legal access is Old Guilford Rd.
- The County Executive has proposed an addition of a 10 foot trail for walkers and bikers adjacent to the road so people don’t have to be on the same road as the trucks that will be traveling back and forth from the storage facility. There would be a green strip between street and walkers along with boulders and trees to make it a more attractive path and a safer path than it would be otherwise.
- The County feels this is a reasonable approach. This requires CA agreement. I don’t understand why this needs CA agreement if the County has approved the developers plan already. The approval was based on the process that now exists therefore, I suggest, that the process needs to be changed. For practical reasons, the plan is obviously out of date or out of whack. There should not have been approval until the plan was approved and completed. The approval needs to include involving the residents of the area and CA.
- Mr. Lazdins was asked if there was anything he would do differently now that he is aware of the concerns of residents and the outcry he has experienced. He says he can look how things get posted in the outparcel lots in Columbia. He says the rules may need to be changed.
- It was noted by Gregg Schwind that this has not been a road but it is being turned back into a road. Gregg also said that the changes will be on the back of the tax payers.
- Sheri Zaret said if that if the County had discussed the issue with the Kings Contrivance Village Board they would have gotten helpful information that could have alleviated a lot of the problems. Communication, Communication, Communication!
- I asked that we find a better way for the County to communicate with CA but what I did discover is that it is CA staff that needs to be more forthcoming with the CA Board so members are informed of what is happening. This was a very frustrating experience. Hopefully, one we can all learn from for the future.
- There is money for general pathway rehabilitation that the County is applying to this situation. Money will have to added on to the FY 19 for full funding to create the safer pathway.
- County Councilperson Jen Terrasa was present at the meeting and said how frustrated she is by the process. She hoped that a bill was introduced today so that the government has to do a notice to the community. There was no notice until it was a too late. We could have been much more proactive. We could have worked better with the developer. We need to work better going forward.
Board Discussion: National Gun Awareness Day Proclamation
- A motion was made to waive the two time ruling so the Board could approve the proclamation to make June 1 Gun Violence Awareness Day. Wear orange that day in order to bring awareness of the huge issue gun violence has become and support changes to the gun laws that will protect our community.
- South Entrance Road name has been changed, trees have been felled and the name will be Symphony Woods Road.
Happy spring. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with your questions or concerns. [email protected]