One June 24, the Hickory Ridge Village Board sent the following letter to the Columbia Association Board of Directors:
Dear President Matthews and Members of the Columbia Association Board of Directors:
The Hickory Ridge Village Board was recently made aware of the events that took place at the Columbia Association Board of Directors meeting on June 12, 2014. It is our understanding that a new item was added to the meeting agenda by a 5-4 vote at the beginning of this meeting, without any advance public notice. Later, a vote was taken on this item without any public notice that a motion would be on the table.We believe that this action clearly violates the Columbia Association Board of Directors’ Special Rules of Order. With regard to Agendas, this document states (emphasis is ours),
“3.1 Preparation of Agenda: The Board Operations Committee shall be responsible for preparing the Board agenda with background materials for each regular meeting. This agenda shall be submitted to all members of the Board, the Village Boards and the press seven (7) days in advance of any regular meeting, unless circumstances shall prevent such distribution. Generally, items will not be placed on the Board agenda until they have first been reviewed by a Board committee and then referred with a recommendation to the Board Operations Committee for placement on the Board agenda.
3.2 Agenda Items within 7 days of a meeting: If any matter arises within seven (7) days immediately prior to a regular meeting which, in the opinion of the Chairperson or President, requires action by the Board before the next scheduled regular meeting, that item shall be included on an Agenda Additions Sheet and distributed at the beginning of the meeting. Such addenda shall be announced at the beginning of the meeting.
3.3 Emergency Items: An emergency item may be added to the agenda during a regular meeting or executive session only if it has the two-thirds approval of all the members of the Board present at such meeting.”
The actions taken by the CA Board of Directors on June 12 did not follow these Rules. This was not an “emergency item,” and a two-thirds approval vote was not achieved. In fact, these actions could also be considered violations of the CA Code of Ethics. And while the actions taken on June 12 are not a direct violation of the Maryland HOA Act, they certainly do not follow the spirit of the law.
We believe that the actions taken at the June 12 meeting reflect poorly on the CA Board for several reasons. First, the members of the CA Board who took these actions were not acting in the spirit of transparency that CA strives to achieve. Because this particular agenda item is so important to Columbia’s lienpayers, the actions make it appear as though the CA Board was attempting to make a major change without gathering public input. Finally, the CA Board is setting a bad example for all the condominium and homeowners association boards in Columbia by either not being aware of its own meeting rules or intentionally disregarding them when it found it convenient to do so. We ask that Columbia Association take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that this does not happen again.
A PDF version is available here: CA Board Letter June 2014