Friday, June 29, 2012

Advisory Overload

While taping our podcast today I quipped with the exec that the proposed advisory board for the new Downtown Columbia Partnership includes everybody but Santa Claus. In order to mollify criticism that the partnership board vests too much control in the hands of the Howard Hughes Corporation, the county council is considering eleven amendments to the enabling legislation that includes the addition of an eleven member advisory board. According to this story by Lindsey McPherson in Explore Howard, the advisory board “would be allowed to attend the Board of Directors meetings.”

“The amendment specifies that a representative of the advisory committee must be provided with an opportunity to comment on all matters pending before the board. It also authorizes the advisory committee to examine the partnership's books and records "at any reasonable time."

Though the advisory board members will be able to comment and examine to their hearts delight, their influence is limited to an advisory role with no voting power. In other words it’s basically window dressing meant to appease those who fear giving HHC too much say in how the partnership is run.

That fear is misplaced. Over the course of the next thirty years or so, HHC will be expending tens of millions to remake Columbia Town Center and the partnerships role is "to be the entity conducting marketing, maintenance, security, transportation and other services in downtown Columbia." It is in the companies’ best interests as the master developer to see that the project is done right.

As the largest developer of master planned communities in the United States I don’t think they really need an overloaded advisory board to accomplish the task but it looks like they're going to get one anyway.
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