Columbia Association wants to hear from the public on legislation that would reclassify its designation from a homeowner's association to a "nonprofit community service corporation."
CA has described the change as a way to save money that it spends reviewing potential amendments to the Maryland Homeowners' Association Act. Critics claim the move may make CA less transparent.
In a blog post about the change, CA spokesperson David Greisman wrote CA is much larger than most homeowners' associations (HOAs), and as a result, amendments for small HOAs have a larger effect on CA.
For example, wrote Greisman, one potential amendment would have required CA to provide printed budgets to all 37,000 homeowners in the HOA, which would have cost the CA more than $500,000.
Tom Scott, of the Alliance for a Better Columbia, a small local advocacy group, said CA is trying to put up "a smoke screen" by reclassifying the association.
He said many transparency provisions in the HOA Act, such as the ability for homeowners' , would not be required if CA is reclassified.
"It's not going to save them one iota," said Scott about CA's argument that the reclassification would save them money.
In a , CA board member Alex Hekimian (Oakland Mills) "would take away protection of some rights to be notified of and participate in CA’s meetings. It would also take away protection of some rights to get information about CA’s proposed budgets, how CA operates, and what CA spends for individual salaries and bonuses."
For its part, Greisman that CA would place transparency provisions into the legislation to ensure that information such as employee salary information would be accessible to residents.
In the blog post on Tuesday, CA noted the proposed legislation "would cement, and in fact enhance, the same kind of protections and transparency provisions in the HOA Act."
The dates for the two public hearings on the legislation have not yet been determined, but CA noted one session will take place in the afternoon and another in the evening.
The date for a public briefing and work session for CA's Board of Directors on the legislation has also not yet been determined.
The CA board will consider the legislation in October, according to CA. The board may vote on the timeline for public hearings at their meeting this Thursday, according to Greisman.