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Commission on Common Ownership Communities

Minutes of the Monthly Meeting

October 1, 2014

(Approved)

The monthly meeting of the Commission on Common Ownership Communities was called to order at 7:08 pm by Chairman Elizabeth Molloy.

Present: Commissioners Molloy, Dubin, Mays, Zajic, Fishbein, Stone, Coyle, Winegar, Cromwell, Ethier (10).

Absent: Commissioners Fonoroff, Brandes, Alkon, Kabakoff, Weinstein

Also attending: Associate County Attorney Walter Wilson;  CCOC Staff Ralph Vines, John Lewis and Peter Drymalski; Larry Dorney.

            1. MINUTES.  The minutes of the September meeting were approved as drafted with the correction that Ms. Mays abstained from the vote on the August minutes and Ms. Ethier did not abstain from that vote. (Stone, Dubin abstained.)

            2. COUNCIL BILLS 44-14 AND 45-14:

            Mr. Wilson reported that the Office of the County Attorney reviewed both bills.  He commented that it was not clear to whom a board must provide the certification of training.  It also was not clear how the law would be enforced. 

            Ms. Molloy reported that the CCOC sent its comments to Mr. Leventhal’s staff and met with the staff to discuss them.  The CCOC asked that there be a grandfather clause built into 45-14, that the training certificate be good for 6 years, that there be a sunset provision, that associations be required to answer CCOC surveys that could include questions to measure the effect of the bill, and that there be a partial exception for small associations.  She said that Mr. Leventhal was firm in his conviction that the education should be mandatory.

            Mr. Fishbein added that Mr. Leventhal promised to provide adequate funding to create the mandatory education program.  Mr. Fishbein also contacted the Maryland Attorney General to discuss basing the CCOC program on the State’s training program for open meeting compliance.  The same people at the University of Maryland’s Institute for Governmental Service and Research, which created the State’s online class could create a similar class for the CCOC.

            Mr. Wilson said that if the County uses the Institute, it would be a “public entity contract” under the County’s procurement law and that no competitive bidding would be required.

            3. NEW CASES PRESENTED FOR REVIEW:

            The Commission voted to table consideration of #55-14, Greencastle Lakes Community Association v. Bozeman, to allow for the staff to inspect the property and to try to informally resolve the dispute.

            4. REQUESTS TO THE COMMISSION:

            Staff reported that it met with Councilmember Floreen, Delegates Kramer and Cullison, former CCOC commissioner Vicki  Vergagni,and representatives of the Maryland bankers association to discuss amending the existing “contract lien” act so as to make it more effective.  The specific amendments discussed were to remove the current limitation that only mortgages written after October, 2011, were affected and to remove the cap of $1200 on the amount of the association’s lien.  The banker’s representatives agree to send a proposal to Ms.Floreen.

            Mr. Wilson pointed out, in response to a question, that changing the existing laws on lien priority would probably be outside the County’s legal authority because this is an area that is reserved to the State.

            The Commission voted unanimously to support the amendments and to send a letter of support to Ms. Floreen.

            5. DECISIONS AND ORDERS ISSUED; OTHER LITIGATION:

            The staff reviewed two decisions: Parkside v. Cayzedo, in which the panel upheld a condo’s right to impose fines on a member who refused to allow the condo to perform annual inspections of her unit, but in which the panel held that the condo failed to show a reasonable basis for all the fines (almost $4,000) that it imposed.  The panel reduced the fines to $950, which is the amount the panel concluded that the condo could justify.  In the other case, Stalbaum v. Ashley Place, the panel invalidated a new parking policy that revoked parking passes of members who were delinquent in their assessments, on the grounds that the Bylaws only granted the board the right to deny access to the recreational facilities of the association if a member was delinquent.

            6. COUNTY ATTORNEY'S REPORT:

            Mr. Wilson reported that the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board ruled that the CCOC had violated the State’s open meetings act by not keeping minutes of a closed meeting, and also by not opening the meeting to act on the advice of its attorney.  The CCOC had closed the meeting to receive the County Attorney’s legal advice on a recent Ethics Commission ruling, which was proper, but once it had received that advice, its discussions on how to proceed should have been conducted in an open session. 

            Mr. Wilson noted that the sections of the Maryland Code cited by the Compliance Board were subsequently repealed because as of October 1, 2014, the Open Meetings Act moved from the State Government Article of the Maryland Code to the new General Provisions Article.

            7. STAFF REPORTS:

            The CCOC staff circulated its statistical report for September, 2014.  It stated that both CCOC cases and requests for advice were up by 10% over last year, while the number of cases and requests for advice to the Office of Consumer Protection overall were declining.  The CCOC “eSubscribe” email list was up by 50% or over 300 names compared to this time last year.

            8. COMMITTEE REPORTS:

            Ms. Molloy reported for the Education Committee.  It has received 6 scripts for video programs so far, and she asked that more drafts be turned in shortly.  The Committee is hoping to produce from 10 to 20 new programs this year.

            She also discussed a plan to supply all County libraries with printed materials such as books and CAI manuals.  She has a list of suggestions; and the program could be instituted gradually according to the CCOC budget.

            Ms. Molloy also stated that Dr. Fishbein is investigating the feasibility and cost of having the University of Maryland produce an online training class for board members which will be similar to the class it produced for the Attorney General on open meetings.

            Ms. Molloy also reported for the Legislative Committee.  She gathered all the comments submitted by the commissioners on Bill 45-14 and wrote a report for Councilmember Leventhal with the CCOC’s suggestions, which is part of the CCOC monthly meeting packet.

            Ms. Molloy announced that she appointed a CCOC Ad Hoc Committee on “Process Review.”  Its members will be Commissioners Ethier, Mays, Coyle and Weinstein.  She circulated a timetable and detailed list of tasks for the committee.

            9. OLD BUSINESS:

            None.

            10. NEW BUSINESS:

            None.

            11. NEXT MEETING:  The next meeting will be Wednesday, November 5, and the following meeting will be Wednesday, December 3.

The Commission adjourned at 8:50 p.m.

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