Columbia Council Rep Report

CA Board Meeting January 24, 2019

(Click here to view the agenda and background material.)

Resident Speakout

Jonathan Edelson spoke as Chair of the Oakland Mills Village Board.  He spoke in support of replacement of the HVAC system at The Other Barn.  He asked for the side lot to be repaired next to The Other Barn.  He asked for other Open Space issues to be addressed.  He requested an Open Space study for the next 50 years for Columbia.  There have been many changes and open spaces and village centers have been changing as well.  He said Open Space is considered the crown jewel of Columbia and would like it to remain so.

Jonathan Edelson also spoke personally. He is a furloughed federal government employee and spoke on behalf of those who are suffering.  Recreational facilities are offering free use and asked if CA would consider offering this to the furloughed.

(Note: CA is removing late fees and is holding spots for children in day care.  CA will work with the furloughed workers.)

Nina Basu, President/CEO of the Inner Arbor Trust asked the Board to support the bond request for the Butterfly building. The funds of $250,000 will be used for design.  It will be a visual arts museum, provide year round place to downtown Columbia, and will bring more money to local businesses.  It will bring jobs and income and taxes to the area.  A Marketplace License would allow vendors to sell alcohol at the park.  It will help support funding and facilitate having various venues selling alcohol

Will Glass owner of a space that sells alcohol in downtown Baltimore spoke about a hot new concept.  He said one person will curate vendors – one with wine, another with beer, etc.  If it can be managed via the food hall, i.e. plans for the Butterfly, the security and safety of patrons is paramount.  It is good for economic development and is turnkey.

Chris Alleva urged the Board to create a committee to advocate for CA to formally have a role in planning and zoning.  He suggested creating a Columbia Planning Council that would work with DPZ.   It may “eliminate the fire drills” when DPZ is planning sites in and adjacent to Columbia.

Joel Hurewitz spoke about environmental issues and plastic bags.

Pat Hersey spoke about  She says that laws that simply ban plastic bags and not other bags should not be approved.  Overall bag consumption should be banned.  Consumers need to have their own reusable bags to best protect the environment. Single use bags should be outlawed.  Fees of at least 10 cents should be charged to make the incentive more endurable.  Less Plastic Please is happy to organize events and help CA get this out to the community.  She asked we support any bill that calls for the reduction of single use plastic bags.

Alisa Nielfeld-Hatiz spoke about the ban on plastic and paper single use bags in Montgomery County.  She asked that CA get on the band wagon and support the ban. The county has the ability to ban but not charge a fee. The idea is to change the throw away mentality.  Reuse, recycle, and save the planet.

Noah Carter is a graduate student who is new to the area.  He spoke in support of the ban of plastic bags.  He asked that CA support a ban.

Pam Klahr lives on Columbia Road and was the Chamber of Commerce Executive Director for a number of years.  She is glad to see the changes in Symphony Woods.  She wanted to see it become something for the community with a variety of cultural events and it has become just that.

She would like to see affordable programming.  She asks for support for the bond to the Butterfly building that will provide guest services/ toilets, food, drink vendors as well as an art museum.  It will help draw more people into downtown.  Because of the market license to sell alcohol in this facility will help improve programming and services.

Brian England spoke about Guildford Industrial Park and the covenants.

(Note:  A motion was made to waive attorney client privilege regarding the plastic bag bill. The Board voted to waive attorney client privilege so that CA’s General Counsel will give us answers in a public forum regarding CA lobbying for support of the ban on plastic bags.)

Report from the CA Representatives to the Inner Arbor Trust Board of Directors

The Inner Arbor request for $162,000 is for salaries for staff.  This past year there were no salaries paid.  This puts a good deal of strain on the trust.  The IAT has done a lot this past year bringing in 65,000 people for a variety of programs that brought residents to the park.

Quarterly Update re:  Membership Information

Dan Burns, CA Director of Sports and Fitness, gave the quarterly report on what is currently happening with memberships over the past three months.   Overall, membership has increased.  The furloughed workers are having an impact and will know more after the next quarterly report.   There was lengthy discussion about how to improve CA’s numbers and decrease the attrition rate.  The improvement of the Athletic Club has helped.  The Haven is still not showing very strong numbers but has improved.

There was discussion about golf.  The grass at Hobbits will be changed to a mixture of bluegrass and another grass so there will be good grass all year round.  There was concern voiced by some that golf is too expensive at Hobbits.  Instead people are going to public courses for less money.  However, Hobbits is not a public course.

Golf has fallen over all about 13% annually in the region.  Hobbits has lost about 15% of its membership.  With the improved grasses it is expected that membership will pick up.

Board Votes:  Acceptance of the Final Report from the Millennials Work Group

The Millennial Work Group report was accepted by the Board.  There was brief discussion about creating a Millennial Advisory Committee that would report to the Board.

There was concern voiced about pricing for memberships for this age group.  The Board will consider membership pricing in the February worksession.  If you have any questions, thoughts or concerns you’d like to share with me, please contact me prior to February 14.

Seniors and millennials are by far the smallest groups who are members of CA.  There is concern that price may be what is preventing more people from joining as members in one group or other i.e. Fit, Play, Fit and Play, etc.  There was discussion about how to determine what prices would make joining CA attractive for the millennial group and seniors.

The Board tasked the president to provide a charter for the advisory committee.  The charter needs to be completed in the next three weeks for the next worksession.

Board Votes:  East Guildford Industrial Park Covenant Enforcement Recommendation

There was a motion to call a meeting with property owners to gain their views and determine what they are looking for before CA considers taking on the covenant enforcement. Board members will be invited to attend the meeting.

Board Votes:  Vote on Howard County State Delegation Legislation

The Board voted to support the following bills from the Howard County delegation in Annapolis:

  1. Howard County 16-19 Elderly Individuals Tax Credit. Support giving residents of the county property tax discount if they have lived in the county for 40 or more years. Currently the discount is for those who have lived in the same home for 40 years.
  2. Howard County 05-19 Butterfly Building. The Board supports the bond for the Butterfly building.
  3. Howard County 04-19 Authority to Impose Fees for Use of Disposable Bags. The Board supports the bill to charge money for plastic bags in stores and raise awareness of the problems that plastic causes. The Board amended the current bill to allow stores to charge up to 10 cents per bag. This will benefit the landscape that is currently littered with plastic and the owners of the businesses who will not have to buy bags or if they do will make a little money on each bag.
  4. Howard County 06-19 Marketplace License. The marketplace license for sale of alcohol in the Butterfly building was supported.

Vote on Development:  ZB 1120M Enterprise Homes, Inc./Community Homes

The Board supports the Howard County Zoning Board proposal to allow the Enterprise changes to five affordable income communities in Wilde Lake and Harper’s Choice.

Finally, there is a County ethics bill that says council members (and we amend it to include zoning Board) would have to recuse themselves if they have received money from anyone for any amount including developers for the previous 36 months.  This one was tabled for future discussion.

Please contact me at [email protected] with any questions.

Warm regards,