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Commission on Common Ownership Communities

Minutes of the Monthly Meeting

March 5, 2014


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

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

Absent: Commissioners Alkon, Fonoroff, Whelan, Weinstein, Kabakoff (5).

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

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

            2. COMMUNITY FORUM:



            The Commission voted unanimously to accept jurisdiction of #08-13, Smith v, Stedwick Homes (Winegar abstained), and to refer it to a hearing panel for further proceedings.  The Commission voted unanimously to accept jurisdiction of #72-13, Potowmack Preserve v. Ball, and to deny the motion to dismiss.  The Commission further voted to refer #72-13 to the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings due to a lack of panel chairs.  Commissioners Coyle and Cromwell will serve on the hearing panel for #08-13, and Commissioners Stone, Ethier and Winegar will serve on the panel for #72-13, with Commissioner Stone as the panel chair.

            Commissioner Brandes agreed to serve on the hearing panel for Zewdu v. Broadmore Hills CSA.







            7. STAFF REPORTS:

            Staff reported that the Winter newsletter was published, the new (2014) Manual & Resource Guide is online, and that staff sent an announcement of the Annual Forum out to the CCOC’s “eSubscribe” list.

            8. COMMITTEE REPORTS:

            Chairperson Molloy announced that the Education Committee had begun to draft the scripts for the next set of educational videos.  It is also looking for venues for the next CAI/CCOC seminar, in particular the Bethesda Regional Center.  It will try to reserve space in the Silver Spring Civic Center for another seminar in 2015.

            The Legislative Committee had no report.

            Commissioner Ethier reported for the Annual Forum Committee.  They inspected the meeting hall and found the building staff to be very helpful.  They will prepare a task list and all Commissioners are expected to sign up to help before or after the forum.  The staff will request a budget of $2500.  She asked the County Attorney if the CCOC can request vendors to supply note-taking materials and Mr. Wilson replied that it could not do.

            The interviewing committee replied that it had one applicant for two professional positions; it made its recommendation on the one applicant and the county has agreed to re-advertise for applicants to fill the other vacant professional position.

            9. OLD BUSINESS:

            Mr. Wilson reviewed the Ethics Commission’s letter to the CCOC in which it stated that the CCOC’s current procedures for panel chairs might violate the Ethics statute. In his opinion, either the Ethics law or Chapter 10B will have to be amended.  One possibility for amending Section 10B-12 would be to add language stating that notwithstanding Section 19A-12, the list of volunteer arbitrators that chair panels under 10B-12 (b) may include attorneys that represent parties before other hearing panels convened under 10B-12 (a).  At the same time, Section 19A-8 of the County Code allows the Ethics Commission to grant a waiver to “employees” barred from certain outside employment under Section 19A-12 if:  (1) the waiver is needed to ensure that competent services to the County are timely and available;  (2) failing to grant the waiver may reduce the ability of the County to hire or retain highly qualified public employees; or  (3) the proposed employment is not likely to create an actual conflict of interest.  He recommended that no panel chairs who practice before the CCOC be assigned to any panels until this issue is resolved.  He will assist Chairperson Molloy in preparing a formal response to the Ethics Commission.  The deadline for this response is April 4.

            Mr. Wilson mentioned that a “concerned citizen” was somehow given a copy of the Ethics Commission letter and has been trying to circulate it to news media.  The letter was obviously a pre-decisional opinion not intended for circulation to the public, and it possibly falls under the “interagency/intra-agency exception to disclosure under the Maryland Public Information Act.

            10. NEW BUSINESS:

            Chairperson Molloy reported that Eric Friedman was unable to attend tonight’s meeting to discuss the CCOC budget and he will come to the April 2, 2014, meeting instead.

            11. NEXT MEETING:  The next meeting will be Wednesday,  April 2, and the following meeting will be Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The meeting adjourned at 8:40pm.

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