Columbia Council decides not to disband

Group to function as CA most of the time, convene annually for `symbolic meeting'


The Columbia Council has granted itself one last gasp.

Instead of disbanding - as the 10-member group had voted to do, contingent on the Columbia Association board's approving changes in the association charter - the group has decided that it will meet only once a year.

The council's 9-1 decision Monday means the council will act as the Columbia Association board most of the time and gather as the council every May.

"It will be some sort of symbolic meeting," council Chairman Joshua Feldmark said.

For more than three decades, 10 people have acted as the council and as the board for the CA, a nonprofit homeowners association that many view as a quasi-government.

In Columbia's early days, the board was made up of employees of the Rouse Co., which developed the 38-year-old suburb. Since 1982, residents have controlled both panels.

Those who supported dissolving the council have said that would reduce the confusion that has been caused by having two bodies with the same members.

The council had virtually no power, but Feldmark said some people "still buy into the symbol that is the Columbia Council."

"We didn't have the political will to get rid of it outright," he said.

Councilwoman Barbara Russell, who repeatedly has expressed concern that eliminating the council would limit the members' ability to represent their constituents, said she was pleased with the council's vote.

Russell said she expects the council to revisit the issue in May and that the body has "a chance to consider the whole issue, which is what we promised to do in the first place."

Feldmark said that people might grow comfortable with the group's acting only as the CA board, leading to support for dissolving the council.

"Maybe that happens in a few years," Feldmark said. "This is sort of an evolving process."

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