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Suburban Hospital revisions debated; renters alliance in Montgomery County

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Friday, June 25, 2010

MARYLAND

Montgomery to begin hospital plan review

Montgomery County's Board of Appeals begins its review Wednesday of recommendations for revisions of Suburban Hospital's $200 million expansion plan, taking up a proposal last week from a hearing examiner to redo substantial sections of the plan.

The board is also expected to examine a request for its chairman, Catherine Titus, to recuse herself from handling the matter because of potential conflicts of interest.

Norman Knopf, the attorney for a neighborhood group that has opposed the scope of the expansion plan, has asked Titus to withdraw from the case. Her husband, Roger Titus, now a federal judge, served on the hospital's board for 14 years, three as chairman. The couple also donated to the hospital a sum between $1,000 and $4,999 in 2007, according to a motion Knopf filed with the board.

-- Miranda S. Spivack

Montgomery has new renters alliance

A group of renters and community activists have established a Montgomery County Renters Alliance, saying it will be the first countywide organization to advocate for renters.

Matt Losak, the alliance's executive director, said it grew out of a "tenants work group" that Montgomery Executive Isiah Leggett (D) appointed in 2008. The work group issued its recommendations in March. They included establishing a rent-control law; requiring landlords to have "just cause" before terminating a lease; and forming a permanent group to represent renters' interests. Montgomery does not limit the amount of rent increases, and tenants can be evicted without explanation.

Losak, who also chaired the work group, said that more than 25 percent of Montgomery residents live in rental housing. The alliance will serve as a "voice for renters" and work to carry out the work group's recommendations, he said.

The alliance plans to file for nonprofit status in the next few weeks and will soon have a Web site, Losak said. In the meantime, the group can be reached via e-mail at tokamaphepa@aol.com.


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