Columbia Council Rep Report

CA Board Work Session March 11, 2021

Columbia Association Board of Directors

Work Session, March 11, 2021

NANCY’S NOTES (Click here  for the meeting agenda and packet.)

Resident Speakout

There were no residents signed up for tonight’s meeting.

Work Session Topics – Discussion of New Town Planning and Visioning Report 

Kristin Russell, Columbia Association, Director of Planning and Community Affairs, gave an overview of the New Town planning and visioning program that the Board and members of Village Boards attended.  CA focused on the HoCo By Design project over a year ago.  During this year, CA hired consultants to help the Board and some Village Board members learn about master planned communities.  There were seven sessions over a period of six months held with the consultants.  Diversity, open space, civic engagement, housing, transportation, redevelopment and governance were the seven major topics we covered.  Next, we hope to see action in these areas.

The final report had been shared with the Board.  This guide will be shared with the county.  It will also be available on the CA website.   Whoever is advocating for CA will use this guide to demonstrate what changes we want to see in Columbia vs. the rest of the county.

Work Session Topics – Cybersecurity Briefing and Organizational Impacts

Chuck Thompson, Columbia Association, Chief Information Officer, made a presentation about how critical this is. There are more bad actors out there and more team members are working from home.  The number one problem with security is the users.   Hackers attack the weakest link and constantly create new means of attacking networks.   Data leaks by team members are most often accidental.  But once that happens the damage is done.

All team members must take the training modules to help prevent the accidents and access by hackers.CA IT has constantly been reviewing threats and vulnerabilities.  No specifics can be discussed in an open forum.

Work Session Topics – FY2021 Budget Update

FY2021 3rd quarter report will be out next week.   The abatement report will come out in the next few weeks.  The State Department of Assessments and Taxation says there are many requests for abatements.  Abatements are handled as refunds.  People must first pay, apply to the state or county for abatements then, if approved, get a refund.  Abatement means the property values are reduced.

CA will have more income than anticipated.  Because of this, there was discussion about how the Villages will benefit.  Currently, CA had budgeted $3 million less than will be taken in.  CA should be sitting on more cash than expected.  Apparently, closing the Haven will cost an additional $2.7 million.  CA will continue to pay the rent for Haven, at the approximate cost of $1.2 million annually until the lease expires in five years or unless someone is found to sublet the space.  However, the commercial market is in very bad shape thanks to the pandemic so there is a lot of empty commercial space.

CA, however, is making more from commercial space than ever before because of the Merriweather District.

Villages are struggling, CA has an obligation to help the Villages out of these dire days.

Work Session Topics – Applicable State Legislation

Electric vehicle charging stations for multifamily may pass this year.   It will impact the condos or homeowners’ associations.  The Board will discuss this at the next meeting because members want to know how this will impact smaller HOA’s.

The Board voiced concern about the Planning Board revisiting the strip center that developers want built along Broken Land Parkway which had been declined. Hopefully, the Planning Board will prevail with their initial response to this eyesore on a beautiful roadway in our fair city.

Work Session Topics – Capital Projects and Open Space Updates

Dennis Mattey, Columbia Association, Director of Open Space and Facilities Services, showed the Board a photo of one of CA’s vehicles that brushes the snow off the pathways.  Hopefully, that is the last snow we see this season.

The FAA now allows people to fly drones over CA property.  But people may not fly the drone over crowds of people or over sporting events.   Drone users may only use their drones over private property with permission of landowner.

It was suggested that CA support a grant from Howard County to help with the environmental issues on phase one on CA property at Symphony Woods.  It is purely for improvement to the land.  Milton Matthews, Columbia Association, President/CEO, will send a letter supporting the work to be done in Symphony Woods.

Spring is coming. Be sure to turn your clock ahead an hour this Saturday Night.  (March 13, 2021.)

Stay safe and enjoy the sunshine.



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