Dear Harper’s Choice Residents,
A new Columbia Council, as well as a new set of members of the Columbia Association, as well as a new Board of Directors of the Columbia Association were installed this past week. Of course, they are all the same ten people! (Yes, only ten people in all of Columbia are actually members of the Columbia Association homeowners association.)
New CA Board Members
We have an excellent set of new directors this year:
Dick Boulton is the new rep from Dorsey’s Search. He and I are quite aligned on all the major issues. He will be one of our CA Board representatives on the Inner Arbor Corporation’s (IA) board of directors and will do an excellent job of being more of a watchdog over the IA, ensuring that they stay true to the Columbia vision.
Janet Evans is the new rep from Long Reach. She is a younger member than we have had in the past and has a degree in landscape architecture. She is another excellent voice for transparency in CA operations and in making sure the right things happen in Symphony Woods…and she can speak to that from her professional knowledge!
Chao Wu is the new rep from River Hill. He also brings more (relative) youth to our Board…his son is the same age as my grandson! Chao has been a proponent of openness in development in the rest of the County and of ensuring that the rules are followed…especially important in Columbia as following our New Town zoning rules is often in jeopardy given current development patterns.
More CA News
Once again, we had a tie for the position of Chair of the CA Board, so the position will be split. This year, Jeanne Ketley (TC) will chair the Board and Andy Stack will chair the last part of the year.
As I said, Dick Boulton will join Gregg Schwind and Milton Matthews as our representatives to the Inner Arbor Corporation’s board.
Also, during our annual Board retreat, we spent a lot of time discussing trust (and mistrust) on the CA Board. One thing we decided to do was to hold discussions first, before a motion is made, as we work on major issues. In the past, requiring that a motion is made first has tended to separate us into “pros” and “cons” and has made for adversarial discussions. Hopefully, by discussing first, we will be able to focus on interests and issues, rather than settling on positions too early.
Trust is, however, an age-old problem that has a “structural” component that will likely not be resolved until we make all residents of Columbia actual members of CA, with certain voting rights, much as they do in all other large homeowners associations.
In its current incarnation, the mistrust centers around those of us who believe that CA erred, for a variety of reasons, in creating the Inner Arbor Corporation and granting a separate, private corporation eternal control over CA’s most important property – Symphony Woods and those who believe it was a wonderful idea. This difference was the basis of the ethics charges filed against me for the “crime” of informing residents of Columbia about problems with the Inner Arbor plan and encouraging them to request that the Planning Board not approve it. Those who believe it was wrong of me tend to see CA as more of a corporation, with a Board that is beholden to the corporation and less to residents. Those who believe I was correct in this action tend to believe that we CA Board members are sent to the CA Board to represent the people of Columbia and that we ought to follow through on the policies we ran on when we were elected.
By the way, the minutes of the “hearing” can be found at http://www.columbiaassociation.org/home/showdocument?id=6782. Pursuant to the CA Board’s decision, after hearing from CA President and Chair, the Harper’s Choice Board sent a letter back to CA. The letter has been released to the public and it is available on the HCCA website here. Basically, it says that our Harper’s Choice board decided that they had nothing to do with this and sent the matter back to CA. Because of this, not satisfied that the punishment they had decided on was sufficient, the CA Board decided to hold a second punishment meeting. As a result, I am now the holder of an official letter of reprimand! (I guess a copy is in my Permanent Record at CA. Make of that what you will!)
The Hobbits Glen clubhouse/restaurant building is open with a limited menu. Its grand opening will happen soon.
I have been approached by residents near the facility with concerns over the concrete wall facing Willowbottom, the lack of plantings, and the new color of the building. I have checked and have been assured that the concrete wall will be treated, likely with a green stain to allow it to blend in more with the lawns. Plantings are on hold pending installation of the remaining irrigation piping and building up-lighting. The first green color was the primer finish on the siding. If the building were to be repainted CA’s staff would definitely move away from the existing brown/tan color. (He actually called it watered-down calamine lotion!) They don’t have a timeline to repaint the clubhouse but they are in the process of securing a quote for painting the building. Although there is quite a bit of siding, there are long runs where the new finish can be sprayed on. Painting is the least expensive of the finishes on the building and if funds are available, they would like to move back to the green (which was the primer color).
As you know, one of the pillars of Columbia’s founding was Jim Rouse’s vision of an economically and racially integrated city. (I hope you all saw Liz Bobo’s excellent letter on that in last Thursday’s Flier!) And, as you know if you have been following the Flier, the trust fund that was set up four years ago instead of requiring a certain amount of affordable housing in Downtown Columbia has not resulted in anything other than high-priced housing and will likely not do so in the future. Many housing advocates, including the Full-Spectrum Housing Coalition, of which I am a member, are working with the County and Howard Hughes Corporation to modify the law.
On Wednesday, May 27th, from 5:00 to 6:30pm, there will be a “Stand-In” on the sidewalk in front of Whole Foods to show support for a full spectrum of housing in our Downtown. I encourage you to join me for all or part of this event in support of a pivotal Columbia value.
The flier below describes what looks like a fun and educational event!
Are Open Streets the future of Howard County?
Come to Open Streets Howard County to find out.
New approaches to accommodating and encouraging healthy transportation options like walking and cycling are being created in communities across the country, and we’re bringing some of them to Columbia on June 13. Come see them for yourself at our Open Streets event where we will temporarily block a lane of each side of the Little Patuxent Parkway “Loop” and set it aside for people-powered transportation.
Other communities across the country have hosted similar events, such as this one in Oklahoma City:
But ours will be truly unique because it will show that roads can accommodate everyone, whether they choose to drive a car, ride their bike, or walk!
And if that’s not enough, we’ll have fun activities for all ages, including:
- Food Trucks
- Scavenger Hunts
- And More!
Bike mechanics will be on hand to help get you ready to ride!
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Parking: Swansfield Elementary School, 5610 Cedar Lane, Columbia
If you want to ride or walk there, find your way using the Columbia Association’s Pathways App!
This event is sponsored by the Horizon Foundation with the Columbia Association, Hickory Ridge Community Association, and Swansfield Elementary School.
For more info about Open Streets and to sign up for event updates, check out https://www.facebook.com/OpenStreetsHoCo?fref=ts or www.thehorizonfoundation.org/openstreets
We hope to see you there!
As always, it is my pleasure to represent you on the Columbia Association Board of Directors as your Columbia Council Representative
Carol Nelson says
I agree with you that the community voted for you to represent our interest on the CA board. What does the bylaws say regarding the public’s interest. If we have no say, then we should not have to pay the CA taxes!
Alan Klein says
Our Charter and By-Laws are pretty silent on this, except to give the public a right to have Resident Speakout, to attend open meetings, and to see minutes of our open meetings.
The Maryland Attorney General’s office has confirmed that the CA is, indeed, a homeowners association and that the CA Board is a representative body.
D Gonsalves says
We are homeowners, and I am a (relatively) long-time resident of Columbia in my 40s. I have observed Columbia evolve and grow over the years, sometimes in positive ways and at other times in annoying ways.
I have often contemplated other states/communities to reside in; however, I have not yet come across a place as unique and special as Columbia. Please continue the fight to keep it that way. Thank you for being a torchbearer of the Rouse vision!
Alan Klein says
You are most welcome! How we translate our Columbia Values into the future is, I believe, our primary challenge. It can’t be about slavishly holding to the past, but neither can it be slavishly following the herd and allowing entropy and the power of big money to erode our core vision and values.