River Hill Board of Directors
March 14, 2023
Opening (Agenda Item 2):
Mr. Kirk called the meeting to order at 7:03 p.m. The meeting was held via Zoom. The following members attended: Kevin Bruening, Jim Kirk, Jian Ni, Muyiwa Odeniyide, Janet Munro, and Eric Greenberg. Renee DuBois (Village Manager) was present. The following guests attended the meeting: Jennifer Lynott (Communications & Events Coordinator), Eva Lambright, Jennifer Gao (Student Member Representative), Ron Briggs, Laura Brooks, David Donovan, and Carlos Acker.
Approval of the (Agenda Item 3):
Ms. Munro requested that the agenda item “Open/Closed Meeting Policy” be tabled until the next meeting on April 11 and be renamed to “Open Meeting Policy”. Additionally, Ms. Munro requested to add an item to the agenda (7C Ballot Questions) under Old Business.
Mr. Kirk made a motion to approve the amended agenda. Ms. Munro seconded the motion. The motion passed. 4-1-0
Announcement of Executive Sessions (Agenda Item 4A)
An Executive Session was planned for March 15 at 7 p.m. for the purpose of discussing rentals and contract negotiations.
Board Meeting Minutes – January 10, 2023, and January 25, 2023 (Agenda Item 4B):
Mr. Bruening requested that the January 25, 2023, Board Minutes be amended to reflect that he disclosed information that a portion of his income is derived from REITS (approximately .25% – .50%) and another portion from multi-family housing (approximately 2% – 2.5%). Mr. Ni disclosed that he also has a similar situation but that it is outside of Maryland.
Mr. Kirk made a motion to accept and approve the January 10, 2023, and January 25, 2023, Board Meeting Minutes with the modifications discussed. Mr. Bruening seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. 5-0
Board Meeting Minutes – February 7, 2023, and February 28, 2023 (Agenda Item 4C)
Ms. Munro requested that the February 7, 2023, Board Minutes be amended by removing the portion that refers to her bringing up RHCA needing/having a process for the recall of the Columbia Council Representative. Ms. Munro also requested that the February 28, 2023, Board Minutes be revised to say that the RHCA Ethics Policy is modeled after the CAI Policy (not CIA Policy).
Mr. Kirk made a motion to accept and approve the February 7, 2023, and February 28, 2023, Board Meeting Minutes with the modifications discussed. Mr. Odeniyide seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. 5-0.
Resident Speak Out (Agenda Item 5)
Mr. Donovan expressed his concern about requesting to join the Facebook group called “Village of River Hill Happenings,” and being permitted to join but then suddenly being excluded from the group. Mr. Donovan was under the impression that the “Village of River Hill Happenings” group page is managed by the River Hill Community Association. Mr. Donovan objected to Village staff posting notices on social media accounts implied approval of the content of those accounts. It was explained to him that the particular page he is referring to does not have any oversight by RHCA and that it is a private page started by a River Hill resident. Mr. Donovan stated that the confusion came from social media posts from Rive Hill Community Association on the Village of River Hill Happenings Facebook page. The Board agreed and directed that Village staff should limit public postings to the official Village of River Hill web site(s) and social media accounts.
Mr. Donovan also stated that he believes the current RHCA Board of Directors is in violation of laws pertaining to non-profit organizations since they are not a legislative body, yet they draft and send letters related to local legislation. Mr. Donovan was clear he felt the board members should not be engaging in political activities on personal web sites and was advised that the Board had no authority to limit such behavior.
Mr. Odeniyide suggested that the Board of Directors set a social media policy of what information should/could be posted and where.
Teen Advisory Report (Agenda Item 6):
Ms. Gao reported that the Teen Advisory Committee (TAC) was looking forward to the Half-Day BINGO event to be held at Claret Hall the following day. The TAC members have duties to run the event including set up, check in the attendees, call out the numbers, check cards, and keep the audience engaged and entertained. Ms. Gao mentioned that donations would be accepted at the door to benefit the Best Buddies Program and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Ms. Gao went on to discuss the Technology Troubles help session planned for the late afternoon of April 20. The Teen Advisory Committee will help anyone that needs some assistance with their device(s) such as using certain apps and features on smartphones, tablets and laptops. A survey has been created to circulate in the community to gauge interest of people that might like to attend and will ask what types of support they’re in need of with their devices. The plan is to have a one- to two-hour long session where people can just drop in to get assistance. More details will appear in the April issue of The Villager and also through the Association’s communication channels/social media platforms.
Ms. Gao also stated that the TAC would be getting the word out about the upcoming Village Elections and letting their fellow students know that if they are age 18 and residents of the Village of River Hill, that they are able to and should vote in Village Elections.
Calvin Ball Listening Sessions (Agenda Item 7A)
A letter was drafted regarding the request for noise barrier funding along with a request for additional local policing in this area related to speeding and the prevalence of modified cars which cause safety issues as well as a disturbance to residents. Ms. DuBois requested permission to send the letter to County Executive Calvin Ball, his Community Liaison Joanna Chen, and Mr. Bruce Gartner, Administrator of Howard County Office of Transportation.
Mr. Kirk made a motion to approve and send the letter signed by the Chair and Vice Chair. Ms. Munro seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. 5-0
HoCo By Design Response (Agenda Item 7B)
Ms. Dubois asked whether the Board would like to send the prepared letter on HoCo By Design to the Planning Board since it is now at that stage for consideration.
Mr. Kirk made a motion to approve sending the letter with modifications as appropriate to the Howard County Planning Board, County Executive Calvin Ball, his Community Liaison Joanna Chen, County Council Representative Deb Jung, and Mr. Bruce Gartner, Administrator of Howard County Office of Transportation. Mr. Odeniyide seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. 5-0
Ballot Questions (Agenda Item 7C)
Mr. Bruening questioned whether the topic of ballot questions is in the Board’s purview and thought a legal recommendation is typically sought. Ms. Munro expressed interest in having two ballot questions for the 2023 RHCA Elections: 1) The RHCA Board establish a process for performing background checks and/or other screening requirements for candidates and appointees for RHCA BOD; 2) The RHCA Board establish a process/mechanism for the Village Manager to monitor/manage food trucks in the Village including their location and schedule. Ms. Munro added that since the Village has not provided a food truck policy, the ballot question would enable the RHCA members to vote regarding the management of the food trucks in the Village. Mr. Kirk offered to draft a policy related to food trucks in River Hill and will present it at the April 11 Board Meeting in lieu of ballot questions.
Mr.Odeniyide suggested that background checks for Board of Director candidates/appointees could be reasonable for anything produced which violates the RHCA Code of Ethics and proposed utilizing a disclosure questionnaire. Mr. Greenberg inquired whether the results of background checks would be made public and who would retain the records. Mr. Bruening stated that the control of finances is key but that there are checks and balances in place for protection of the Board. He also stated that the Board cannot deny a candidate. Mr. Ni asked what criteria would disqualify a person from being able to run. Mr. Odeniyide suggested establishing a baseline requirement. Mr. Bruening stated that the Board should let the Village Manager and Chair of the Board determine the criteria, for example, some jobs in the finance sector ask about liens, bankruptcies and felonies. Mr. Kirk suggested credit checks and background checks. Mr. Odeniyide suggested obtaining a legal opinion and to find out what other Villages do. Ms. DuBois mentioned that we have audits every 3 years. Mr. Kirk will draft a letter with a background check process in lieu of a ballot question.
Mr. Kirk made a motion to recommend a background check that limits itself to the matters of public record for all Board candidates/appointees. Mr. Odeniyide seconded the motion. The motion passed 5-0.
IRS Forms 990/990T (Agenda Item 8A)
The Board of Directors reviewed the forms offline.
Mr. Kirk made a motion to approve the 990/990T forms and file them with the IRS. Mr. Bruening seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously 5-0.
FY24 Budget (Agenda Item 8B)
Ms. DuBois explained the return of money to CA if there are still outstanding items from FY23 that are not delivered. She is hoping to avoid that by creating more room to keep/hold money by outlining items for a 10-year plan for the upkeep of the building. Ms. DuBois requested Budget Amendments relating to the purchase of 5 office chairs, 6 stainless steel trash cans with lids, painting of the back hallway, restrooms, board room, kitchen, and service entrance, and a bonus pool for all staff to be calculated by the Board Chair and Vice Chair.
Mr. Kirk made a motion to approve the Budget Amendments as shown by Ms. DuBois. Mr. Bruening seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. 5-0
Ms. DuBois provided an overview of the FY24 Budget, which currently shows a loss. The estimate of the Annual CA Charge share for RHCA is $386,968. Ms. DuBois suggested maintaining the same lease structure for rentals, classes, etc., running a Black Friday special as was done last year, keeping the newsletter advertising rates the same, increasing staff salaries by 5%, redoing the website and putting discussion of donations on the April Board Meeting Agenda. She requested permission to publish the FY24 Budget in the newsletter and request public comment.
Mr. Kirk made a motion to publish the FY24 Budget for public comment in The Villager. Mr. Odeniyide seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. 5-0
Open Meeting Policy (Agenda Item 8C)
Development Advisory Liaison (Agenda Item 9i)
Mr. Bruening attended the Planning Board Meeting on 3/9. He discussed HoCo By Design’s planned increase of housing units, up from 25,000 to 27,000 on approximately 10,000 acres, by 2040. He presented a map showing a side-by-side comparison of Plan Howard 2030 with HoCo By Design. HoCo By Design changes everything from Plan Howard 2030 with the amount of development proposed. Village Centers will instead be called “Activity Centers” and will be redeveloped to increase the number of apartment units to create a variety of high, medium, and low density housing. APFO sets limits on the number of units for construction that will include 1,400 new units by 2026 and 1,400 news units by 2027. Additionally, to create diversification within the community, hearings will occur throughout 2023 for multiple family use of single family homes.
Mr. Kirk made a motion to have a letter drafted by Mr. Bruening regarding a response to HoCo By Design for Board review and approval to be signed by the Chair & Vice Chair.
Traffic & Safety Committee (Agenda Item 9ii)
Sound Barrier Liaison (Agenda Item 9iii)
Village Manager (Agenda Item 9B)
Ms. DuBois stated that she is currently reviewing material to draft a letter in reference to the Legislative Action Committee for CAI regarding Jessica Feldmark and HOA issues.
Columbia Council Representative (Agenda Item 9C)
Mr. Greenberg stated that House Bill 1024, proposed by Jessica Feldmark, did not go through. He shared that the CA Board of Directors is working on a 3-part plan for tot lots and looking out further into the future through the use of a pilot program to consider other uses and designs for equipment. This will yield the formation of a Playground Committee to apply the lessons learned from the pilot study to other villages.
Board Chairperson (Agenda Item 9D)
Board Speak Out (Agenda Item 10)
Adjournment (Agenda Item 11)
At 9:03 p.m., Mr. Kirk made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Greenberg seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. 5-0