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Commission on Common Ownership Communities

Minutes of the Monthly Meeting

February 5, 2014

(Approved)

The monthly meeting of the Commission on Common Ownership Communities was called to order at 7:05 pm by Chairperson Elizabeth Molloy.

Present: Commissioners Molloy, Dubin, Zajic, Fishbein, Stone, Winegar, Ethier, Coyle, Kabakoff (9)

Absent: Commissioners Alkon, Whelan, Fonoroff, Cromwell, Weinstein, Brandes (6).

Also attending: Walter Wilson, Associate County Attorney; Ralph Vines and Peter Drymalski, CCOC Staff; Christophe Fletcher.

            1. MINUTES.  The minutes of the January, 2014, meeting were approved as drafted.

            2. COMMUNITY FORUM:

            None.

            3. NEW CASES PRESENTED FOR REVIEW:

            The Commission voted unanimously to accept jurisdiction of #34-13, Churchill Village East CA v. Kapche, and to issue an order of default, provided that the Complainant first documents that the Complaint is signed by the president or vice-president of the board and that the name of the person signing is printed as well as signed.

            The Commission voted unanimously to accept jurisdiction of #43-13, 53-13 and 73-13, Zewdu v. Broadmore Hills CSA, Koppel v. College Square Condominium, and Abdelkarim v. College Square Condominium.  The last two cases will be assigned to a single hearing panel because they involve identical legal issues.  

            The Commission unanimously voted to accept jurisdiction of #46-13, Greencastle Lakes CA v. Fletcher, and to issue an order of default and refer the dispute to a hearing panel for further proceedings.

            The Commission unanimously voted to accept jurisdiction of #67-13 Potomac View HOA v. Yeh and Hua, and #80-13Sweepstakes HOA v. Ray, and refer them to hearing panels for further proceedings.

            4. REQUESTS TO THE COMMISSION:

            None.

            5. DECISIONS AND ORDERS ISSUED; OTHER LITIGATION:

             None.

            6. COUNTY ATTORNEY'S REPORT:

            None.

            7. STAFF REPORTS:

            Staff reported it had received a record number of complaints (19) for a single month in January.  Staff also updated an old CCOC brochure, “What You Should Know About Your Association.”  Commissioner Winegar was very helpful with the revisions and graphics.

            8. COMMITTEE REPORTS:

            Chairperson Molloy reported for the Education Committee.  It has developed a list of 13 topics for the next series of videos: Governing Documents, Open Meetings, Meeting Notices, Meeting Minutes, How to Maintain Control of Meetings, Reserves, Effective Meetings, Elections, Amendments, CCOC Hearings, Board Control and Supervision of Contracts, How to Conduct a Meeting, the Business Judgment Rule and Management Contracts.  She asked all members to contribute to drafting scripts for the videos.

            Ms. Molloy stated that the next CCOC/CAI training seminar will be either May 10 or June 7 at the Silver Spring Civic Center, if it is available.  There will be a $10 fee, and CCOC will provide box lunches, coffee, and donuts.

            Staff reported for the Legislative Committee.  The Committee met earlier in the evening and made the following legislative recommendations:

            SB229, setting caps on fees for resale packages: OPPOSE.

            HB73 and HB80, absolving associations of liability for dog bites: SUPPORT.

            HB548, preventing married couples from serving on boards of directors at the same time: OPPOSE.

            SB230, granting priority to refinanced mortgages over certain other liens but not over association contract liens: SUPPORT.

            SB207, protecting associations from abusive contract terms by developers: NO POSITION.

            HB664, allowing condo boards to adopt rules banning smoking in common elements and in private units: SUPPORT WITH AMENDMENT ALLOWING SMOKING TO BE BANNED IN PRIVATE UNITS ONLY IF THERE IS A BYLAW AMENDMENT TO THAT EFFECT.

            HB601, regulating fees for foreclosures on contract liens: OPPOSE.

            SB573, expanding the grounds on which an association can be placed into receivership: SUPPORT WITH AMENDMENTS REMOVING CERTAIN OVERBROAD CLAUSES.

            HB10 and SB274, regulating managers: SUPPORT.

The CCOC agreed with all recommendations except the last, and the consensus was to OPPOSE HB10 and SB274 for lack of proof showing regulation was needed.

            Ms. Ethier reported for the Annual Forum Committee that planning was on track and that the committee would solicit outside vendors to supply materials and to appear in person to discuss their offering with attendees after the Forum presentations concluded.

            9. OLD BUSINESS:

            None.

            10. NEW BUSINESS

            Chairperson Molloy and Walter Wilson reviewed a letter from the County’s Ethics Commission advising that the Ethics Commission was concerned that the CCOC’s use of volunteer panel chairs who represented private parties before the CCOC could possibly impair the impartiality of the hearing panels before whom those attorneys appeared.  There was lengthy discussion, with many members strongly disagreeing with the Ethics Commission letter.  While Mr. Wilson agreed with the Ethics Commission’s conclusion that panel chairs, although volunteers, are subject to the ethics law’s provisions governing the conduct of “public employee[s]”, he identified certain exceptions within the law that might be applicable to the provisions cited by the Ethics Commission as the basis for its opinion.  He noted that the law also provides for waivers for which panel chairs that represent parties before the Commission might be eligible.

 Ms. Molloy reminded the CCOC that the County is preparing its annual budget proposals and that it is a good time to meet with Eric Friedman, Director of the Office of Consumer Protection, to discuss the CCOC’s budget and how the money is allocated.  She will invite him to the next meeting.

            11. NEXT MEETING:  The next meeting will be Wednesday, March 5, and the following meeting will be Wednesday, April 2.

            The Commission adjourned at 9:30pm.

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