Socialism alive and well in Maryland?

The whole planned community thing has always rubbed me the wrong way a bit.  We live in Columbia, MD on Columbia Association property.  Columbia is one of the first (the first?) planned communities in the country, and we don’t live here necessarily because we love that.  It is oddly pretty, but they’re so busy making it aestheticallypleasing that they hide all the “ugly” things like signs for gas stations and grocery stores.  Very difficult to navigate.  We live here because Stu works here, and I never ever want him to have to commute to work.  I know that commuting is a way of life here (I used to do it, at best an hour each way), but I personally believe that it’s no way to spend the few precious waking  hours we are given in a day.  So we chose to live 5 minutes from his job.  The downside, however, is that we pay a fortune to live in this community, in taxes (yay MD), and in CA “fees”.  The fees, BTW, are to cover the many CA services, events, whatever else.  I’m not sure what they pay for because I’ve yet to find anything that CA does for me that doesn’t cost me more FEES.  Some people at least get their streets and sidewalks cleaned/plowed/maintained by CA.  For those in Texas, that’s a big deal when snowy winters hit!  But not us!! Apparently, our street (cul de sac) is owned by the property owners.  We have to shovel snow, clean leaves, and repair it ourselves.  At the moment there is a huge mammoth hole in the road (we’re thinking of just naming it our pond and calling this waterfront property).  If we want to repair it we have to have the cul de sac repaved and it will cost each homeowner about $1000 dollars.  WTF.  Our sidewalks (that butt up to the back of our property- on the OUTSIDE of our backyard fence-are apparently not maintained by CA either.  We have to get permission to do anything to our house (that we paid ALOT of money for, supposedly so that we could own it-hence the socialism), and if anything is out of place we are notified.  If I ever want to put a swingset in my backyard for Blake, I will have to get permission first. 

So a couple of months ago, we got this notice in the mail on CA letterhead telling us that our back sidewalk needs to be cleared in order for people to be able to freely walk on it.  I asked Stu about it (he’s the yard guy), and he felt pretty sure it was cleared, but said he would check again.  Ok, done.  We get another notice about a week later telling us again to clear the sidewalk.  Well, that’s weird.  I mention it to Stu and he says, nope, he cleared it.  So I figured that maybe they mailed the notice before we had cleared it.  No big deal.  THEN, we get this very ominous letter saying that they are about to come out and threaten legal action if our property hasn’t been properly maintained by this date.  In between the many phone calls back and forth, I walk myself back there to find that our side walk is clear as glass!!  There are no overhanging branches, weeds, not even a leaf.  Now I’m mad.  At the same time a neighbor comes tromping over asking me if I got the letter too.  She is MAD.  We are mad.  It appears that since the sidewalk is impaired in some places along the street, they just sent a sweeping letter to everyone who has a house backing up to that street.  You are going to threaten legal action without even taking the time to differentiate between property lines???!!!  Isn’t that harassment??  I called the manager, who apparently then came out and “walked my property in order to closely examine it”.  She said she took some notes and only found a couple “problem areas” (she just found a weed growing on the sidewalk-I’m not kidding).  She said not to worry, everything is fine, no legal action.  Is that supposed to make me feel better?  Where am I?  Well I’m certainly not in Texas anymore, Toto.  If all CA does for me is harrass us about our landscaping, why am I paying them $1300 a year?  The walking trails might be nice, but they aren’t worth that.  They should pay me.  I’m sending YOU a bill, CA!! 

You know what’s even crazier?  I feel all naughty writing a public blog about them.  What if they see me complaining about them?  Will I get in trouble?  Oh, wait, this is America.  Outside of this bizarre little community I am free to voice my opinion, right?

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