Judge rejects neighbors’ appeal of Suburban Hospital expansion

A Montgomery County judge has rejected a Bethesda homeowner group’s appeal challenging zoning approval for Suburban Hospital’s expansion plans.

Montgomery Circuit Judge Thomas L. Craven denied the appeal filed by the Huntington Terrace Citizens’ Association. The group had alleged that Montgomery’s zoning appeals board applied incorrect legal standards when it approved the hospital’s $230 million plans in October. The hospital plans to tear down hospital-owned houses to build a 300,000-square-foot addition and four-story parking garage.

Amy Shiman, president of the citizens association, said the group was disappointed with the ruling Wednesday and is considering whether to appeal the case further. She said residents hope to meet with hospital leaders to discuss ways they can collaborate on the plans.

The homeowners group, which represents residents in the neighborhood behind Suburban, had argued that the hospital expansion would have too much of a negative impact on the surrounding community off Old Georgetown Road. Hospital officials said they need their first major expansion in 30 years so the hospital can function as a trauma center, meet state requirements and offer private patient rooms and physician office space.

Suburban spokeswoman Ronna Borenstein-Levy said the hospital is now focused on the county council’s consideration of permanently closing part of Lincoln Street as part of the hospital’s plans to unify its campus. She said the council is scheduled to discuss the closure in July. Nearby residents have opposed closing the street, saying it would limit their access to Old Georgetown Road and lead to more traffic on other neighborhood streets.

Katherine Shaver is a transportation and development reporter. She joined The Washington Post in 1997 and has covered crime, courts, education and local government but most prefers writing about how people get — or don’t get — around the Washington region.
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