12 December 2012

Watchdog Legislation Goes Public

In my last post, I asked for the Columbia residents that are proposing legislation to fundamentally change Columbia Association membership to make their views public.  They have posted their proposal on the Maryland Homeowners Association, Inc website.  To facilitate discussion, I will repost their work here.  I have some thoughts on this, but would prefer to allow for discussion beforehand.  Please note that the posting of information below is in no way an endorsement of the language provided.  Take a look and let me know your thoughts:

First Document:

Rationale and Major Benefits of Being Members of the Columbia Association (CA)

  • The sole purpose of the Columbia Association in its Charter is to operate “for the promotion of the common good and social welfare of the people of the community of Columbia....” The Columbia Corporation is currently organized as a nonstock corporation with no other members than the 10 persons elected by Columbia’s ten villages to the Columbia Council, an organization that currently does nothing except elect itself to the CA Board of Directors.

  • The Columbia Council was in theory supposed to be the voice of the residents who must pay an annual tax-like fee to CA. Now, the Columbia Council has been made virtually defunct. As to the CA Board of Directors, the CA hired staff has told the Board that their loyalty as directors should be to the staff of CA and to the Board itself, and not directly to the Columbia peoples’ common good and social welfare. Therefore, the exclusion from CA corporate membership of residents who are required to pay annual fees to CA amounts to classic ”taxation without representation.”

This legislation would give the following major benefits to Columbia lot owners:
  • The ability to meet as members and have a stronger voice on issues involving how CA operates and collects and spends the money it receives from members, such as CA’s budget, issuance of debt, changes in the annual charge CA imposes, and any broad policy question affecting members.

  • The right to attain fundamental rights, such as ensuring accountability and transparency within CA, that are normally available to members of other homeowners associations in Maryland and that are specifically granted to members by CA’s governing documents.

  • The opportunity to amend CA’s governing documents as required to serve the residents of Columbia.

  • The effective date of this legislation could be moved to October 1, 2014, to permit ample opportunity for the Columbia Association to accommodate the expanded membership structure.

Second Document:

§ 11B-113.6    Additional protections for lot owners
a) Legislative intent. -- It is the intent of the General Assembly to provide additional protections to lot owners subject to this Act in homeowners associations organized as nonstock corporations in which not all lot owners are corporate members.  The section would grant corporate membership to any lot owner excluded from such membership.  As corporate members, these lot owners would have the ability to further expand upon the rights provided by this Act.
b) Definition of corporate member. -- In this section,  a “corporate member” is defined by the provisions of Title 5, subtitle 2, of the Maryland Corporations and Associations Code.
c)  Additional lot owner protections. -- Any Maryland homeowners association organized as a nonstock corporation that does not automatically include all lot owners as corporate members shall add immediately all excluded lot owners as such corporate members with all rights provided by the corporation’s governing documents and Maryland law.
§ 11B-101(i)(3) A “member” of a homeowners association is any lot owner and any other person that the homeowners  association may wish to designate.
AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That this Act shall take effect October 1, 2014.

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