www.baltimoresun.com/explore/howard/opinion-talk/ph-ho-cf-editorial-1115-20121114,0,3161597.story

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Editorial: Bill to reclassify Columbia Association unneeded, should be shelved

12:39 PM EST, November 15, 2012

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The proposed legislation that would reclassify the Columbia Association from homeowner association to nonprofit community services corporation is a bill with no sensible purpose and virtually no support. The CA Board would be wise to abandon it once and for all.

The legislation has been talked about for more than a year. It was shelved about this time last year, after it became apparent that it needed a lot more work and a lot more public vetting before it could be presented to state lawmakers in time for the 2012 General Assembly session.

One year later, the proposal still needs more work and perhaps more public vetting, and the deadline the county's state lawmakers have set for legislation it to be presented to them in time for the 2013 General Assembly session is just about past.

"It seems a bit of a stretch at this point that we would actually be able to consider it this year," state Del. Guy Guzzone, a Columbia Democrat, told the CA board at a meeting two weeks ago.

The board is scheduled to meet next week on the issue, and if they are smart, board members will shelve the proposal again.

If they are really smart, they will shelve it forever.

Besides a couple of board members and CA's attorney, few people seem to like this bill or find it necessary.

The stated rationale for the change is that CA does not fit the homeowners association classification because it is so different from other homeowners association in Maryland, which are much, much smaller. Having CA fall under the state Homeowners Association Act, this rationale goes, could lead to "unintended consequences," such as extra expenses and closed businesses.

But many in Columbia are not buying that rationale. Instead, lawmakers and Columbia residents alike dismiss that justification and warn that reclassifying CA could hurt members and make the organization, criticized in the past as not open enough, even less open.

"I don't see the purpose of this," Del. Frank Turner, also a Columbia Democrat, said. "When legislation comes up (detrimental to CA), we deal with it then."

"There's no justification at all for this," echoed Del. Liz Bobo, another Columbia Democrat.

"I believe the change is unnecessary and could prove detrimental to the good and orderly governance of CA," said Maryland Homeowners Association President Jean Ketley, who lives in Town Center.

"As far as I can see, CA has worked reasonably well over the years and I don't know if anything has been presented that would require this change," said Henry Eigles, a Columbia resident and attorney.

"I didn't hear anyone speak in favor of it," said CA Board member Alex Hekimian after a public hearing. "There is a groundswell in the community against this, and it's growing."

We couldn't have said it better ourselves. This proposal should just go away.