Columbia Council Rep Report

CA Board Work Session March 14, 2019

Columbia Association Board of Directors

Work Session

March 14, 2019


(The agenda and background material can be found on the CA website.)

Resident Speakout
Tom Scott spoke about the sound system.  He and his wife watched the livestream of last week’s meeting.  He said something was very wrong with the sound and even people not in the meeting couldn’t hear what a going was on.  He suggests getting the microphones closer or getting an extension on them so they will be more useful.   He said something needs to be done.

Chris Tsien, from Wilde Lake, is representing the bikers of the county.  He said it’s a bad idea to put the Wilde Lake-Downtown multi use pathway on the north side of Twin Rivers Road.  He rides a bike and wants it on the south side of Twin Rivers Road.  The primary reasons to put it on the south side is that it links destinations.  The schools, the interfaith center and the village center are on the south side.   He believes there are safety concerns as well as issues with the destinations.  Twin Rivers Road is about to be pulled apart for a water main and Roslyn Rise will be completely renovated so these factors will make the pathway construction more difficult.

Chris Alleva told the Board that, essentially, the Planning Board worked against the actual zoning rules.  The approval violated several actions and some citizens are considering how to proceed to change this.

Yale Stenzler has lived in Wilde Lake since 1972.  He is not happy that CA is separating the lien from the CBA discussion tonight.  He spoke of the CBA and the Stein case that has prompted CA to propose the CBA.  He spoke about CA’s apparent abandoning the villages and hopes that the villages will be included in what CA does moving forward.

Jill Crane spoke about the CBA also.  She was under the impression that the Stein case had to do with the financial viability of CA.  She would like to know the connection between the lien issue and the desire to create a CBA.   The reason CA could not collect the lien appears to be because CA wasn’t in compliance with the lien act.  Why not?  She doesn’t see why the HOA versus the CBA would make a difference regarding priority of the lien.

Paul Verchinski spoke about hiring an internal auditor who reports to the Board.  He thinks if the Board had its own internal auditor.  (CA does have an auditor but perhaps the public is not aware of this).   He berated the CA staff while saying the Board is doing a job they are not prepared to do.

Rebecca Schenck lives in Town Center.  She said BG&E was running trucks over her property.  BGE said they put hang tags on houses to inform the community of the work but in fact they did not.  BGE accessed the electric box to install lights next to the Kennedy Gardens.  The residents do not want additional lights to go around the rest of the lake.
The residents want to participate in the plans to install additional lights.

Joel Hurewitz said he has spoken with Kevin McAliley, Wilde Lake Village Board Chair, and Deb Jung, Howard County Councilperson for District 4, about the multi-use pathway along Twin Rivers Road.  He thinks it needs to be on the south side of Twin Rivers Road.  He also spoke about the code of ethics.  He said that the CA Board cannot violate its charter.

Alex Hekimian spoke about the CBA.  He said it has been a debacle.  It didn’t have to happen.  It is similar to 2011 and 2012.  He thinks it’s a non-starter to change from an HOA.

Work Session Topics:  Discussion of Ideas for CA Downtown Lakefront Area
Greg Fitchett, Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC), attended to respond to questions concerning the changes that HHC is planning.  Lakefront Neighborhood Square will become county owned property.  We need to see how this impacts CA owned property.  The plan includes a community pergola, pathway connecting parking to plaza, playground, veterans’ memorial and a set wall on the west side.   The Haven on the Lake entrance is near the pergola just about 10 feet from the Haven’s windows.  There is a ramp for handicap to access to area.

The American City Building is slated to be demolished.  The post office has been moved to the south side of the mall.  The Howard County Fire and Police departments will use the space for training and it will be demolished by the end of June.  The former Copelands building will be demolished.  There will be additional parking in the building for the Haven as well as for the condo owners.

Autonomous vehicles were discussed.  There may be vehicles that hold 8-10 people that could be used to bring people to the lakefront so parking won’t be as big an issue as it has been in the past.  This is becoming a city of the future or at least ahead of the game compared to many other cities.

Mr. Fitchett was asked about public toilets.  There are no current plans for public toilets.  The county will be taking over and they have not demonstrated any concern about this.  There are public restaurants that may be used.  Downtown is going to become an urban center that is walkable and bikeable.

The location of the Wilde Lake-Downtown multi use pathway on Twin Rivers Road was discussed, i.e. south side vs north side.   The north side was not HHC’s decision.  Two years ago HHC recommended the north side but some wanted the south side.  The county was presented with both north and south.   The county made the decision that it should be the north side… it’s complicated.

There are pros and cons for building on both sides.  Primarily, safety won.  The south side has six intersections while the north side has only three.  Property ownership on the north is only CA or county. South side has many owners and maybe not all will be in agreement.  Engineering challenges make it very tight on the south side.  The north side takes out six trees as compared to twenty on the south side.    The plans have been set and there are no plans to change to the south side.

Work Session Topics:  Discussion of the Most Recent Development Tracker
The Erickson project in Clarksville will likely take from three to five years before any changes to the property will be begin.  There are approvals from the county and approvals from the state before this project can proceed.

The new Circuit Courthouse will replace the Bendix Building.  It’s a public/private partnership.

Work Session Topics:  Capital Projects and Open Space Updates
Dennis Mattey, CA, Director of Open Space and Facility Services, showed a video about Douglas Smith who is the Open Space supervisor for Town Center and Wilde Lake.  Douglas says he hears from people all the time that say they value what he is doing.

Work Session Topics:  Easement Requests – Neighborhood Square-Town Center Lakefront; Mellen Court; Little Patuxent Parkway at Corporate Center Drive; Twin Rivers Road

  1. Neighborhood Square-Town Center Lakefront.  The pipe that runs to the lake is on CA land.  It needs to be on public land to make it easily accessible. HHC needs to connect to the pipe when its property is developed.
  2. Request from HRD for public storm drain easement.
    3. Request from Howard County for permanent/public utility easement for storm restoration.
    4. Request from Howard County for moving a traffic light on Little Patuxent Parkway at Corporate Center.
    5. An upcoming easement is for the Wilde Lake-Downtown Multi Use Pathway requested by HRD.  The question was asked if the county is wavering on the location of the pathway.  The response was that there is no wavering of the county.

    North Columbia Fire Station in Harper’s Choice easement is upcoming.  Also, Robinson Overlook Pathway easement adjacent to Grace Drive is upcoming.


Work Session Topics:  Defining Next Steps, including problems, re CBA & Lien

The stakeholders of Columbia, i.e. the Villages, residents, commercial owners and employees want to know what is happening with Columbia and the Columbia Association.

This whole topic of the CBA was poorly handled.  The CBA was a means of covering CA in the lien situation.  CA needs a public process because the public is why the organization functions.
The Board wants to hear from the stakeholders and needs to make clear what is being done and why. The March 5, 2019 public meeting was a disaster and I would hope that CA will learn from that fiasco.

Milton Matthews, CA President/CEO, responded to comments about the CBA and lien.  He believes that the CBA is necessary regardless of the lien issue.  However, CA mishandled it.   CA could use some expert opinions about a process, if the Board decides to look more carefully at what the problem is that we are trying to solve.

There was discussion amongst the Board about how to move forward with this topic.  I proposed a series of meetings that are not the regular Board meeting, but rather meetings dedicated to discussion whether or not CA needs to become another entity from an HOA.   There are experts that can help make the changes to clarify what CA is.   There is information that seems to be missing.  CA needs a process and to help to move forward to fix the mess that has been created.

Work Session Topics:  Howard County Land Development Regulations-Phase 2 and Columbia Vision

Andy Stack, Board Chair and Dick Boulton, Board Vice Chair, put together a few pages with their thoughts about the plans to change the county zoning as it relates to Columbia.  There is concern that the county is not paying attention to what CA nor Columbia wants.  One example is ignoring CA’s opposition of the Royal Farms that was proposed on Snowden River Parkway.  The Planning Board unanimously approved the Royal Farms which will bring even more traffic to that already overloaded boulevard.  It adds another gas station diagonally across from an existing gas station.  Royal Farms has a reputation that it puts competition out of business.   It is a large company that is in direct conflict with independently owned stations.   Competition may lower prices for a while, but that will change in the long term.  Columbia needs to have a say about what happens in the city.  We must find a way to make a difference.

Zoning is a governmental responsibility.  CA is not a government and is dependent on the county to take care of these issues, with understanding of Columbia’s needs and desires.
Columbia is the economic engine of Howard County.  CA and the county need to work together in a better way to make it work for all.

The Board discussed the possibility to create a master plan for Columbia.  Some say there is New Town Zoning – that is our master plan.  However, the county has its own plans and we want them to accept our plans for our city.  This is going to be another discussion hopefully in the near future.

Work Session Topics:  Motion re:  change in policy to require a CA Board member running for any elected office to resign the CA Board position

The Board discussed the issue of removing CA Board members that decide to run for a higher elected office.  Being a member of the CA Board can and has been used by one individual as a stepping stone. This individual did not show up at Village Board nor CA Board meetings.   It is unfair to the Village and unfair to CA to have someone not doing their job as they pursue higher office.   This will be voted upon in the next meeting.

Spring is almost here.  Enjoy the warmer weather.
If you have questions for me – please contact me at [email protected] or call me on my cell – 443 285-9209.