Columbia Association Board of Directors Meeting
March 28, 2019
(Click here for the agenda and background material.)
The Board discussed the five year strategic plan meetings that the Board is holding this month which are not open to residents. There was discussion about whether or not the strategic planning meetings could be closed because no decisions are made that involve the community. Some argued that when the Board is pulled together in entirety, the public should be able to attend. Others argued that when the Board is doing “Board development” it is closed. When the Board meets, it can be a Board retreat as this was. Once the Board comes up with a plan, we hope to share this information with the community. The community is always welcome to comment at any time.
Sunil Misra of Owen Brown spoke about the airplanes flying over the homes. The noise from the planes is causing a horrible nuisance and anxiety. They are finding that they are suffering physically from the noise. It is interrupting sleep and causing weight gain. People don’t know where to complain about this issue. He is asking that CA get the information about where to complain into the hands of residents so they know where and to whom they can complain. He also asked CA to get the information about the impact of the planes out to the community. Home values could be damaged. People don’t want to live where the airplanes are overhead and flying so close to homes. It was suggested he contact the County Executive and the state delegates for his area. Mr. Mira said that the FAA walked away from the round table that was attempting to alleviate the problems.
Vibrant Misra lives with his father, Sunil, in Owen Brown. He thought “Columbia was a sanctuary. Lake Elkhorn was beautiful. But then the “thundering of airplane noise” has caused very bad problems for his father and for him. The planes have “taken away your health”. There are fewer birds. He says, “Don’t let them take away your peace and quiet.”
Russ Swatek spoke about monitoring Merriweather noise. He is meeting with various people to discuss this issue. He spoke about marketing. He and his wife go to the Columbia Gym a lot. He feels they are constantly being marketed. He also spoke about the change to the ethics issue. He believes it is overkill. He says not to pass the new ethics policy. The Board needs to handle the issue in another way. He also spoke about closed meetings. He says the Board loses a lot in respect from residents with closed meetings.
Chris Alleva spoke about the appeal for the Royal Farms approval. He says the approval doesn’t follow the Howard County procedures rules. He spoke about easements and ways to streamline the process for CA. The Board often has easement requests that need to be approved.
Ginger Scott thanked Andy Stack for his calm demeanor at the CBA meeting at the Wilde Lake Interfaith Center. She also spoke about her concerns about Fairway Hills Golf Course. She was very unhappy that young trees were destroyed not far from the stream. She says CA has ruined buffers along the course and the stream. The county has been requiring 75 ft. stream buffers outside of Columbia.
Alex Heikimian spoke about his time on the CA Board. He often voted against closed meetings. He is concerned the Board isn’t aware that reasons for closed meetings are very limited. Also, the reasons say the meeting may be closed. It doesn’t dictate that they must be closed.
Joel Hurewitz spoke about the ethics policy. He said to comply with the villages, changes should be made in the charter and in the by-laws.
Liz Schoen lives in Wilde Lake. She agrees with everything Alex Heikimian says. She hopes CA will include the residents in meetings and strategic planning.
Milton Matthews referred to some challenges. Online traffic is not converting well into memberships. It is appreciated that the Board is given this information. Staff is strategizing how to better reach potential members that will lead to memberships. Everyone is welcome to read the report.
Dan Burns, CA Director of Sport and Fitness, spoke about the flyers or posters at various locations – and through email to members. I asked that large posters be displayed. A small 8 1/2 X 11 piece of paper indicating changes to a schedule is not sufficient. CA needs big and bold to inform members of changes that do or will take place.
Memberships that aren’t paid on time are tracked. If a payment is declined, CA attempts to contact the member for a correct credit card or new checking account information.
People are informed within two to three days if there is a problem. Before the next billing date, if they are declined again, their account is deactivated and their membership is frozen. They are asked to please contact the customer service facility. They can go online or pay at customer service. If the third cycle comes around with no payment, they become inactive or, in other words, are cancelled. The membership may be reinstated once the member is back to paid in full. Status can be inactive for only 30 days. One either pays in full or is dropped after that time. CA has become more proactive with late payments in the past six months.
Board members talked about the importance of members to respond to requests for filling out surveys. This is members’ opportunity to tell CA what they like or don’t like and what CA can do to improve. If you get a survey, please do respond. Thank you.
Board Votes: Revised Audit Committee Charter
The Audit Committee has asked to change its charter so that it will have more power in obtaining documents or information with unrestricted access. If the General Counsel and Audit Committee don’t agree on access, the Board of Directors should have the final say.
Board Votes: Motion re: change in policy to require a CA Board member running for any elected office to resign the CA Board position
There was a request to have the Board accept a new rule in the CA Code of Ethics. The rule would mean the Board can remove a Board member or ask a member to resign if he or she decides to run for any political office, regardless of what the office would be, including the Board of Education. The Board decided that outside counsel should be hired to check CA’s governing documents to determine if this can be done. Then, there will be a vote on whether or not to include this in the Code of Ethics.
Board Discussion: Ideas for CA Downtown Lakefront Area
The bell tower was discussed. It was placed at the lake for the next 10-15 years. It is not a permanent position now. CA needs to define what is wanted at the lakefront.
The design that the Board received a year or so ago was not dynamic and interesting. The Board needs help finding a company that can create what it would like to see at the lakefront.
Continuous pathway, outdoor eating space, and what else?
There was discussion about bringing in the community members to give their views on what would make this area better. The current plan is to have a creative person or team give some guidance before moving forward. CA is not in a rush to make changes at the lake. The Board is happy to see what HHC is going to do first.
If you have questions for me – please contact me at nancy.mccord@ca-Board.org or call me on my cell – 443 285-9209.