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Commission on Common Ownership Communities

Minutes of the Monthly Meeting

January 7, 2015


The monthly meeting of the Commission on Common Ownership Communities was called to order at 7:03 pm by Chairwoman Elizabeth Molloy.

Present: Commissioners Molly, Dubin, Brandes, Coyle, Ethier, Fishbein, Mays, Rahmani, Stone, Weinstein, Winegar, Zajic (12).

Absent: Commissioners Cromwell, Fonoroff, Kabakoff (3).

Also attending: Associate County Attorney Walter Wilson; CCOC Staff Peter Drymalski; Mr. Larry Dorney.

            1. MINUTES.  The minutes of the December, 2014, meeting were approved as drafted (Brandes abstained).

            2. COMMUNITY FORUM:

            Mr. Larry Dorney introduced himself and presented everyone present with a copy of the United States Constitution.


            No new cases were presented.  However, the staff reported that the panel in # 24-14, Pamela Prue v. Old Georgetown Village Condominium Association, issued a decision invalidating the hearing it had conducted and ruling that the new hearing should be conducted by a different hearing panel.  Ms. Rachel Browder has volunteered to chair that panel.  Commissioners Coyle and Winegar volunteered to serve on the panel.


            Staff reported that Bill 45-14 will go to a work session with the PHED Committee on January 26, and Bill 44-15 will go to a work session February 2.  Ms May will represent the CCOC on Bill 44-14 and Mr. Fishbein will represent it on 45-14.  Staff reported that the Council staff was considering proposing amendments to #45-14 that would declare that the failure to take the training would not result in the removal of the director from the board nor invalidate the director’s votes; the penalty would be Class C instead of Class A ($50 versus $500), and there might be a “grandfather” clause.  The Council staff’s report will be available a few days before the work session and will be online.


            Mr. Zajic reported on the recent decision in Baroni v. Avenel Community Association, #55-11.  This was a dispute over whether the homeowner had to comply with the HOA’s roofing guidelines.  Mr. Zajic stated that in his opinion the case came down to the “business judgment” rule versus the association’s governing documents.  The panel found that the board’s decisions, and the board’s roofing guidelines, violated both the association’s governing documents and the County Fire Code.  The decision has been appealed.

            Mr. Wilson reported that it was now under consideration whether the County should intervene in the appeal.  Normally, the County does not intervene unless some important County interest is at stake.  He discussed the appeal with the attorney for Avenel and it did not appear at this time that any County interest was at stake.  However, that position can change if Avenel’s brief, once filed, contains an attack on the panel’s interpretation of the Fire Code, and if it does, he will consult with the Fire Marshal on the issue, and the County might then wish to ask the Court for permission to intervene in the appeal.


            Mr. Wilson did not have any report to make in addition to his comments on the Baroni v. Avenel appeal.

            7. STAFF REPORTS:

            The staff circulated the monthly report for December, 2014, which also contains the annual statistical totals for all of 2014.

            8. COMMITTEE REPORTS:

            Mr. Stone reported for the Legislative Committee.  On the proposal by WSSC for permission to set up a customer assistance fund, the Committee recommended that the CCOC oppose the proposal, because it discriminated against water users who were on master meters, and it did not assist master meter customers such as condominium associations.

            The Committee also recommended that the CCOC “support the concept” of a proposal to amend the Condominium Act to allow condominium members to amend their bylaws by a simple majority vote of all the unit owners rather than the current 66 2/3% requirement.

            The Committee recommended that the CCOC reply to a letter from Ms. Vicki Vergagni expressing its support for her suggested amendments to the priority lien law so as to apply the law to all mortgages and to expand it to give priority to 6 months of liens, with no limitation on the total amount of the liens.

            Finally, the Committee recommended that the CCOC express its qualified support for the concept of allowing unit owners to install, at their own expense, in the common areas, electric vehicle charging stations.  The Committee believed that the existing California law on the topic was a useful basis for crafting a County law.

            The CCOC voted unanimously to adopt the Committee’s recommendations.

            There was no report from the Budget and the Education Committees.

            Ms. Ethier reported for the Dispute Resolution Process Committee.  The Committee had a long discussion earlier this evening and agreed that the process in effect is taking too long before cases are resolved; however, in its preliminary view, the CCOC needs more staff if real improvements are to be made.  It will continue to meet to discuss improvements.

            9. OLD BUSINESS:


            10. NEW BUSINESS:

            By acclamation, Commissioner Rand Fishbein was elected chairman and Commissioner Eugenia Mays was elected vice-chairwoman. 

            Mr. Fishbein presented tokens of appreciation to Ms. Molloy and Mr Dubin with heartfelt gratitude for the many accomplishments they have achieved for the Commission.

            11. NEXT MEETING:  The next meeting will be Wednesday,  February 4, and the following meeting will be Wednesday, March 4, 2015.

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