Columbia Incorporation: 'Who Feels for Goliath?'
On July 26, the Howard County Republican Club unveiled its second Progress Initiative. This initiative dealt with the question xTC of Columbia incorporation and the future of Columbia. In this initiative, the Howard County Republican Club expressed our opposition to incorporation. However, in our initiative, we also called for alternatives.
We explored two scenarios. The first scenario was a Columbia where management of open space maintenance would be assumed by contractors assigned by the county government. The second scenario explored a Columbia where a limited partnership between the county government and a local incorporated city would interact. These scenarios, purely intellectual pursuits, opened a dialogue about the future of Columbia.
The intention of this initiative was to open a constructive discussion where interested parties could discuss the future of Columbia, not a destructive discussion for or against incorporation. Instead of being combative, we want to be constructive. Instead of demanding action from CA, the petitioners or the county government, we want to invite cooperation between interested parties. . . . On Tuesday, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Howard County Central Library, the Howard County Republican Club will sponsor a town hall meeting to discuss the future of Columbia. We have invited the Columbia Association, the Rouse Company, the Chamber of Commerce, the League of Women Voters, the Columbia Municipal League, Howard Countians for a Better Columbia and the Alliance for a Better Columbia. These groups will sit together before citizens and have a panel discussion on the issue. The Howard County Republican Club would like to invite interested citizens out to join us in an open dialogue concerning the future of our Columbia.
The writers are president and first vice president, respectively, of the Howard County Republican Club.
David Berson, of the Columbia Council, recently ridiculed the Howard County Republican Club for suggesting the people of Columbia do away with the Columbia Association and turn over control to the county.
Both Mr. Berson and the club are short on facts in discussing such a proposal. Let's start at the beginning: The Columbia Association was created by Howard Research and Development HRD purchased 13,600 acres of farmland for the purpose of developing the town of Columbia. All of the residential property to be developed would be sold as lots but HRD wanted to maintain control.
This was accomplished by writing and having placed on the land records of each lot certain covenants. These covenants created the Columbia Association with a Board of Directors/Council, rules for how the funds would be raised and what they could be used for. Also, the covenants detail the procedure to follow if there was a grievance and under what conditions the covenants can be changed.
Simply, the covenants creating CA were established by the courts and they will have to be annulled by the courts. One might come to the conclusion that this would be virtually impossible but if you have lived here for a number of years you must know that from the beginning HRD and CA have ignored the covenants.
On May 1, 1964, HRD leased 290 acres from Muriel Carroll with an agreement to purchase the property from the estate after the death of Ms. Carroll. Ms. Carroll died in 1988. HRD received a deed in 1989 and deeded the part that was to remain open space, to CA, in April 1990. HRD was not permitted to build on the property until it received a deed but it was permitted to start the golf course in the open space.
When CA was organized, the golf course was turned over to it to operate and complete construction. For 20 years, CA improved and operated this golf course, creating millions of debt for the property owner. HRD was the gainer at the expense of the property owner, for the golf course was a highlight of their sales promotion of real estate. All of this was in violation of the covenants. . . .
Even today, the golf course is still operated in violation of the covenants. Article V states over and over that these designated "community facilities" are for use by owners and residents. All of CA facilities are operated as public facilities in violation of the covenants.
Mr. Berson has stated that CA's financial reports are excellent and clear but the problem is they don't tell the truth. . . . The auditors that approve their accounting were some of the same ones that were auditors for the savings and loans back in the '80s. The scheme is the same: Inflate the value of assets to create false equity to balance out the debt. . . .
Charles W. Ahalt