2 candidates from Long Reach debate the issues

Odum, Hlass vie for seat on Columbia Council

April 09, 2003|By Laura Cadiz | Laura Cadiz,SUN STAFF

The two Long Reach residents vying for the only contested seat on the Columbia Council last night debated concerns raised by residents, ranging from covenant enforcement to the homeowners association governing process.

Linda Odum and David Hlass, who are seeking to represent Long Reach village for two years on the council, fielded questions before an audience of 15 last night at Stonehouse, where the election will be held April 26.

Odum, 61, is the council's vice chairwoman and is seeking her second term on the 10-member panel, which governs the 95,000-resident Columbia Association and also serves as its board of directors.

If elected, she said, her goals for the next two years would include striving to revitalize Long Reach's older pools, being an advocate for better transportation resources that would not be at Columbia Association expense and creating favorable senior rates at association facilities.

Hlass, 48, said he wants to address the concerns of all residents and also look into the needs of the residents who pay the association's annual property lien - 73 cents per $100 of valuation on 50 percent of the fair market value - but do not use the association's many facilities.

When questioned about covenant enforcement, both candidates said they supported creating an appeal process for neighbors who live near properties that are violating the villages covenants, which govern the exterior appearance of homes.

"This is important," said Hlass, a retired military officer and pilot. "Surrounding neighbors in the community put a lot of money into their property."

Odum, who has lived in Long Reach for 13 years and in Columbia for 32 years, said she feels the complaint-driven covenant enforcement program "pits neighbor against neighbor." Instead, she would like to see a program implemented under which homes would be surveyed regularly to ensure they meet village standards. Such a program would be a "uniform, proactive system," she said.

Both candidates said they were interested in working with the Columbia Association and village residents about the future of the 5-acre tract near Long Reach High School that in 2001 was placed on a short list of sites being considered for a county crisis center.

"I would be a strong advocate to discuss options with the CA," said Hlass, who has lived in Columbia for 15 years, 13 of those in Long Reach.

In November, the Columbia Association board voted down a key proposal - to merge the board and Columbia Council into one body - from the Governance Structure Committee, which provided a long list of suggestions to improve the association's often convoluted process.

Odum said last night that she did not think it was a "dead issue" - after the board voted down the proposal, the members agreed to send the recommendation to the board's policy committee for further analysis - and said she supported the merger.

She called the need for the council "anachronistic."

Hlass said it is time for the board to make a decision on the issue. "We've had enough pigeon-holing and stalled responses, I'm ready to go forward on it," he said.

The other six council seats are uncontested.

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