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CA Rep’s Corner: July 2015

Dear Harper’s Choice Residents,


As is often the case in the summer, activity has slowed down at CA over the past month or so. Major objectives, such as returning Symphony Woods to CA control are still ongoing, but require slow and steady work, and will not be completed quickly.

Who is CA and Who are CA’s Stakeholders?

Since its founding, CA has been caught in an identity conflict. We are at once a multi-million dollar corporation and, at the same time, a homeowners association. At the Board level, this dual identity often plays out in tensions as to CA’s purpose and who our stakeholders are. While all Board members acknowledge the duality, there is a split between those who lean more toward the corporate side and those who lean more toward the homeowners side.

One member who leans more to the corporate side, when asked who our stakeholders are, mentioned the Chamber of Commerce, Howard Hughes, the Inner Arbor Corporation, and elected officials. Those of us who lean more to the homeowners side see residents as our primary stakeholders.

As to CA’s purpose and our responsibilities as CA Board members, those who lean more to the corporate side view it as a violation of our loyalty to CA as a corporation when we advocate against something that the Board has decided. It was under this theory that I was convicted of ethics violations last year.

Those of us who lean more to the homeowners side see it as our duty to advocate for the policies and positions we promised to you, our fellow residents, when you elected us.

This has shown up lately in one member’s report to their Village. This Board member, who in my view leans to the corporate side, wrote, “The purpose of CA is to make Columbia better for all. The reason CA exists is to make Columbia a better place to live, work and play. Therefore whatever CA does is done for the betterment of all.”  While I wish this were true, this sort of tautological reasoning is not sustainable. As I have tried to be clear with you and with the CA Board, if I view an action by the CA Board as counter to the best interests of Columbia, Columbians, or Columbia’s values, I will oppose it and work to change it.

More CA News:

Noise

The CA Board has begun a discussion of the growing number of complaints about noise emanating from Merriweather Post Pavilion, as well as from Symphony Woods, when it is used as a secondary stage area.

The Easement Agreement between CA and the Inner Arbor Corporation requires that IA maintain Symphony Woods in such a way as to allow the “quiet enjoyment” of its neighbors’ properties. From the testimony we have received, this is clearly not the case. We are working to ensure that IA come into compliance.

Snowden River Parkway Development

The CA Board voted 8-1 to oppose the proposed Royal Farms 20-pump gas station being proposed at the corner of Snowden River Parkway and Minstrel Way. We have directed CA’s staff to make the case to the County that the proposed use is not allowed under the current zoning for two reasons:

  1. Gas stations are only allowed as an “ancillary use,” such as pumps to service a company’s fleet of trucks

  2. Access is supposed to be limited to Minstrel Way and not on Snowden River Parkway

Partnerships

The Hobbits Glen clubhouse and Coho Grill are up and running and are getting high marks.

One concern which has arisen, both from the Hobbits Glen clubhouse opening as well as the Arts Festival, is the partnership which CA has entered into with the Horseshoe casino. Many members of the public, as well as CA Board members are concerned that partnering with an out-of-town casino is not the image which we want to project as a family-friendly organization. This actually dovetails with the issues I discussed above, as a couple of corporate-leaning Board members have stated that, since the Horseshoe casino is a member of the Howard County Chamber of Commerce, they are therefore a worthwhile partner to CA. I, and others, disagree. More on this to follow.

Affordable Housing

The May 27th “Stand In” for affordable housing was well attended and caught the attention of many passers-by. If you have been following the issue in the newspaper, the Howard Hughes corporation has put forth a proposal which, unfortunately, only seems to sweeten their bottom-line and at the expense of the public. Hopefully, the County Council will take bold action and require a full-spectrum of housing affordability in Downtown Columbia.

Inner Arbor

We are told that the Inner Arbor Corporation is promulgating a loyalty document which they want our CA reps to their board to sign, with the implication that they could be thrown off that board if they do not comply. Fortunately, at least one of our representatives to the IA board is challenging this. Our representatives derive their seats on the IA board by dint of the fact that the CA Board elected them, per the Easement Agreement between CA and IA. There is no provision for our representatives to be denied their seat on the IA board.

As always, it is my pleasure to represent you on the Columbia Association Board of Directors as your Columbia Council Representative. Have a great end of summer!


AKlein
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