Columbia Association postpones decision to pursue recognition as a “community benefit association”

UPDATE: This press release has been revised to reflect that CA’s Board of Directors has not voted on whether or not to pursue recognition as a “community benefit association” under state law.

MARCH 6, 2019 — Columbia Association’s (CA) Board of Directors will still hold its previously announced special meeting on Wednesday, March 6 at 8:30pm at CA Headquarters to continue the discussion about the merits of a proposal to recognize CA as a “community benefit association” under state law.

Since its founding in 1965, Columbia Association has been classified under Maryland Corporations Law as a private, non-stock corporation. When the state Homeowners Association Act (HOA Act) passed in 1987, CA was classified as a homeowners association as well.

CA’s Board of Directors had been considering requesting that the Maryland General Assembly recognize Columbia Association as a new kind of entity called a community benefit association, instead of a homeowners association. The original timeline would have brought the request to lawmakers in Annapolis for a vote in the 2020 legislative session.

However, a recent court decision created potentially detrimental financial effects for CA. The proposal to be recognized as a community benefit association could address this issue while maintaining the transparency protections of the HOA Act for anyone who lives or works on or owns property that is part of Columbia Association.

CA changed its timeline given the possibility that the bill could still be considered in the remaining weeks of the 2019 legislative session, pending approval by CA’s Board of Directors. CA released information to the community, and it hosted meetings with the public and with managers and board members from Columbia’s 10 village community associations.

With so little time left in the 2019 legislative session, and given the feedback heard from the community, CA’s Board of Directors will continue their conversation in 2019 regarding recognition as a community benefit association in order to request filing of the bill when lawmakers return to Annapolis in 2020.

Columbia Association is very different than traditional homeowners associations. CA serves an entire community of homeowners, renters, commercial property owners, businesses and the people who work in Columbia, and provides far more services — including facilities, programs and activities — to a greater population than a typical HOA.

When state lawmakers consider changes to the Maryland Homeowners Association Act, that legislation is usually in response to issues at much smaller homeowners associations — and frequently will have unintended negative consequences on Columbia Association. Recognizing Columbia Association as a community benefit association would acknowledge its unique structure and the many and diverse stakeholders it serves, while protecting CA from legislation intended for more traditional HOAs. Becoming a community benefit association would change nothing about the way CA operates.

For more information about this proposal, including a list of frequently asked questions, visit ColumbiaAssociation.org/CBA.