Don't let CA out from under HOAA provisions [Letter]

CA has presented its general plan for transforming CA-owned Symphony Woods into an urban park containing several buildings, including a new headquarters for CA. CA President Phillip Nelson advises that park construction and operation is to be directed by a CA-created nonprofit corporation called Friends of Columbia, with the same board of directors as CA.

In a letter Mr. Nelson wrote to Thomas Scott Feb. 1, he said "Friends of Columbia is not subject to the disclosure provisions of the Maryland Homeowners Association Act (HOAA) regarding books and records." In other words, by setting up a CA subsidiary corporation, Mr. Nelson figures that he can escape the consumer protection provisions of the HOAA (part of the Consumer Protection Act). If his ploy succeeds, he could set up a series of corporations, one to operate the pools, another to operate the athletic centers, etc., until he will have accomplished his goal of getting CA out from under most of the consumer protection provisions that our state government established for the benefit of its citizens.

Mr. Nelson's earlier attempt to defeat the provisions of the HOAA by persuading the Maryland legislature to exempt CA from most provisions of that act has apparently failed. We are now witness to his next ploy. Tell your CA representatives and your legislators that you want Columbia residents to continue to enjoy all the protections afforded by the HOAA, including the statutorily-guaranteed transparency of CA operations. If Mr. Nelson can get away with this, any Maryland homeowners association could do likewise — set up a subsidiary corporation to do its work on the theory that the subsidiary corporation is not bound by the HOAA consumer protection provisions.

Mr. Nelson talks about paying for the $50-150 million (!) park with donations. I don't know who would donate money to construct a park owned by CA, a park that neither the county nor the state would have control of, and which CA could sell at any time.

Barry Blyveis


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