Dear Harper’s Choice Residents,
The Columbia Speaks, CA Listens event on October 18th was, by all accounts, a success. Hopefully, the next time we do this (and we intend to make this type of forum a regular event), there will be more time so that we can have more in-depth discussions.
The Haven on the Lake wellness spa is on track for its December opening and the Hobbits Glen clubhouse/restaurant building is on track for a spring opening.
There has been an interesting, disturbing, and potentially game-changing development in the Symphony Woods/Inner Arbor arena. A well-respected land use attorney, with many years of experience in these matters, has looked closely at the perpetual easement which CA granted to the Inner Arbor corporation. He has concluded that the easement violates the terms of the 1966 Deed which is the basis for Columbia and the Columbia Association.
His reasoning is basically this: The 1966 Deed requires that CA only convey land to a public body for public use. It also gives all Columbia landowners a legal right to use and enjoy CA property in return for the annual assessment we pay to CA. The 2014 Easement to the Inner Arbor corporation (a private entity) gives CA no control over Symphony Woods, in perpetuity. In fact, it requires that CA “subordinate” its ownership interest in the land to the Inner Arbor Corporation. This means, for example, that if Inner Arbor borrows money and can’t pay it back, the land could go to pay the loan. This means that for all intents and purposes, the Easement is a “conveyance” of Symphony Woods to a private entity in violation of the 1966 Deed, which is the most fundamental of our governing documents.
If this interpretation of the Easement and the Deed are correct, it would be illegitimate for CA to have conveyed our most precious piece of Columbia’s open space to a private entity. If this is allowed to stand, it is conceivable that CA will make other such transfers of our open space land to other private entities and could lose control of any or all of them.
Regardless of what one thinks about the various elements being proposed for Symphony Woods by the Inner Arbor corporation (and I believe that there is plenty to be concerned about in that area), apparently control of this open space land must remain with CA…by law!
Jim Rouse clearly intended that Symphony Woods remain a park for Columbians to enjoy. The Planning Board is meeting on this issue on Thursday, November 20, at 7pm at the Howard Building in Ellicott City in the County office complex. If you would like to make your voice heard, you can testify then and/or you can send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have created a website at which you can find all the pertinent documents, including the Original Deed, the Easement Agreement, Murphy’s Opinion, CA’s Attorney’s Response, and Murphy’s Response to the CA Attorney’s Response. Please go to www.alanklein.net/columbia.
Finally, there is a group in the Hobbits Glen neighborhood who are concerned about people speeding in areas where there are bad sight lines and kids playing. If you drive through Hobbits, please keep your speed down. If you would like to join the group that is looking into ways to get people to reduce their speeds, please let me know and I will put you in touch with them.
As always, it is my pleasure to represent you on the Columbia Association Board of Directors as your Columbia Council Representative.
Columbia Council Representative
Village of Harper’s Choice