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Commission on Common Ownership Communities

Minutes of the Monthly Meeting

august 5, 2015


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

Present: Commissioners Fishbein, Winegar, Ethier, Fonoroff, Mays, Zajic, Fine, D. Weinstein (8)

A bsent: Commissioners Brandes, Coyle, Cromwell, Rahmani, Stone, DM Weinstein (6).  (One position vacant.)

A lso attending: Associate County Attorney Walter Wilson, CCOC Staff Peter Drymalski; Dallas Valley; Larry Dorney.

       1. MINUTES.  The minutes of the July meeting were approved as drafted (Weinstein abstaining).

2. COMMUNITY FORUM:  Mr. Valley spoke of his appreciation to the CCOC Mediator, Michael Lang, and to the CCOC staff, for their efforts to resolve his complaint with his association.

       Mr. Dorney stated that he wrote to the Ethics Commission to support its ruling that the CCOC cannot use as panel chairs those lawyers who also practice before the CCOC in other cases and suggested the CCOC use retired judges.  He spoke of his various problems with his own condominium association and expressed his pessimism that the CCOC was a suitable agency to hear his complaints.

       3. CHAIRMAN’S REPORT  Dr. Fishbein reported the good news that the City of Rockville has opted to apply Chapter 10B of the County Code on a permanent basis, without any “sunset” provision. 

       Dr. Fishbein also reported that he and several other Commissioners and staff met with the Ethics Commission to discuss the CCOC’s proposal that Ethics grant waivers to the CCOC to use attorneys as panel chairs even though those attorneys also practice before the CCOC in other cases.  To accomplish this, both parties would be given the option of waiving the possible conflict of interest and allowing the attorney in question to act as the chair of their hearing panel  No decision has yet been made by the Ethics Commission and it is considering other alternatives as well

       Dr. Fishbein and Ms. Winegar reported that the CCOC’s draft text for the mandatory training class has been approved by the County Attorney and the preliminary indications are that the County Council committee likes the draft product.

       4 . NEW CASES PRESENTED FOR REVIEW:  The Commission voted unanimously to accept jurisdiction of, and to grant the motions for default in #34-14, Greencastle Lake CA v. Okonkwo and in #02-15, Montgomery Century Condominium v. Goni, et al.  The cases will be assigned to the hearing panel of Ethier (chair), Mays and Zajic.

       The Commission voted unanimously to accept jurisdiction of claims 1-4, 6, and 7 as listed in the Staff’s Case Summary in #12-15, Corbin v. The Orion Condominium, and to refer it to a hearing panel for further proceedings.  The panel will be Winegar (chair), Fine and Fishbein.  The hearing panel then consulted and ORDERED both parties to participate in a mediation session in an attempt to resolve their dispute informally.

       The Commission voted unanimously to table the motion for default in #25-15, Bhaskar v. Greenfield Commons Condominium,  until the next monthly meeting and to strongly encourage the parties to attempt to resolve their dispute in a mediation session prior to asking for the Commission’s intervention.


       The Commission considered a proposal by Vicki Vergagni that the CCOC host a seminar taught by Bankruptcy Court judges and practitioners on how to protect community association interests when association owners file for bankruptcy.  It was decided that the CCOC needed more details on the nature of the problem, and Ms. Ethier would gather that information.  It was also agreed that Ms. Vergagni should be invited to speak to the Commission personally on the issue.


       The Staff reported that two appeals are pending from CCOC decisions:
Baroni v. Avenel CA, #51-11, is now before the Court of Special Appeals, as is
McBeth v. Fountain Hills CA, #52-12.

       7. COUNTY ATTORNEY'S REPORT:  Mr. Wilson reported that he had reviewed and approved the draft training class.

       8. STAFF REPORTS:  The Staff presented a proposal by former CCOC chairperson Liz Molloy for an expanded annual announcement.  Ms. Ethier’s Policy and Procedures Committee will consider it and report to the Commission.  Then followed a discussion of how to enforce the requirement of Section 10B-7A that all communities notify their members at least annually about the CCOC and what it does.  The Staff pointed out that the law did not clearly establish an enforcement mechanism and suggested that all communities provide the CCOC with a copy of the notice with it registered.  Some Commissioners opposed this on the grounds that tracking compliance would be beyond the staff’s capacity.  Mr. Wilson pointed out that under County law, if no penalty is stated for a violation, then the penalty is automatically a Class A fine ($500).  However, there is a one-year statute of limitations, and the staff will have to be able to state in any civil citation when the violation occurred, and that could be difficult to do.  Ms. Mays suggested that Chapter 10B be amended to require that associations include the required information in their annual meetings announcements.  If the annual meeting notice went out without the mandatory CCOC notice, it would be easier to fix the date of the violation.  No consensus was reached and the matter will be considered by the Process & Procedures Committee as part of its overall report to the Council and the Executive.

       9. COMMITTEE REPORTS:   Ms. Ethier reported that the Policy and Procedures Committee had just completed a 2-hour discussion of various proposals for the improvement of the CCOC hearing process but was not yet ready with a final report.  Dr. Fishbein reported that the CCOC will meet with OCP Director Eric Friedman to discuss OCP’s position on changes to the CCOC but no date has yet been set.

       10. OLD BUSINESS:  None.

       11. NEW BUSINESS:  Mr. Zajic reported on the recent meeting of the Maryland Housing Partnership that he and Mr. Fine attended.  It intend to survey all condominium presidents for their suggestions on how to improve their associations and it is meeting with Delegate Cullison to discuss how the General Assembly can help.  He recommended that the CCOC work with the MHP and that the minutes of that meeting be attached to these minutes.

       12. NEXT MEETING:  The next meeting will be Wednesday,  September 2, 2015, and the following meeting will be Wednesday, October 7, 2015.

       The meeting adjourned at 9:07 pm.
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