Columbia Association board

The Columbia Association Board has scheduled two public hearings on legislation that would exempt CA from the Maryland Homeowners Association Act. (Luke Lavoie / September 13, 2012)

The Columbia Association board Thursday night postponed setting specific dates for the three public sessions on legislation that would exempt CA from the Maryland Homeowners Association Act.

The two timelines presented to members of the board Thursday, one from CA Director of team and organizational development Marc Kolp, and one from Don Edwards, a consultant for consensus building and civic engagement, were sent back to be reworked by members of staff and the board's external relations subcommittee.

Last week, CA announced it would hold a public work session and two public hearings on the bill, which would reclassify CA as a non-profit community service organization.

While the two timelines differed on dates for the public hearing and work sessions, both pegged the CA board's Oct. 25 meeting as the earliest date of possible action on the legislation.

Edwards said presenting the draft bill to the legislature at the end of October would place it in the "standard pipeline" for the next legislative session.

"If you're in agreement you want it to go through the standard process, this design will give you a mechanism that will meet the smell test," Edwards said.

Oakland Mills representative Alex Hekimian said voting on the legislation in October would be rushed.

"I see this as a very profound policy and legislative issue, and to have to come to some kind of conclusion in one month's time doesn't seem right to me," Hekimian said.

Wilde Lake representative Regina Clay said some members of the community feel the legislation is being rushed.

The legislation, debated since last year, has proven controversial.

Members of CA staff argue that CA's unique size and structure calls for the reclassification, and that the recent increase in the number of proposed amendments to the HOA Act have unintended consequences to the association.

Critics, however, have argued that the change would make CA less transparent.

During the reconstruction of the new timeline, consideration will be given to moving the meeting so that possible action could be postponed until November.

In addition to the public sessions, CA has placed a commenting feature on the legislation's web page on the CA website.