Some county health organizations have criticized a proposed amendment to the Montgomery County zoning text that would require county planners to confer with health officials over whether proposed medical clinics are really needed.
The amendment would require the County Board of Appeals to solicit comments from the Health Services Planning Board whenever health-care organizations apply for special-use permits to construct medical clinics.
County officials say the amendment is needed to ensure that new clinics are really needed. But attorneys for some health organizations say the County Council is overstepping its bounds and giving the county the power to regulate health care.
"Their function is to determine land use, not health-care needs," said Stanley J. Nadonley, general counsel to the county's Holy Cross Hospital.
The amendment was proposed in the fall after a protracted dispute between Holy Cross Hospital and the Greater Laurel Beltsville Hospital over an ambulatory clinic Holy Cross plans to build in the Rte. 29 corridor, said Joseph R. Davis, a principal planner for the county.
"Beltsville believed the clinic was to be located in an area they already served," he said. "The council and Board of Appeals then became concerned, wondering if they should establish a need in the community before issuing special-use permits for these types of clinics."
Under present law, a doctor's office may be installed in a private residence. But to build a new clinic, which provides extended health care and employs more than two doctors, a health organization must first be granted a special-use permit by the Board of Appeals. Currently, the board requires developers to prove only that a new facility must be built because other office space in the area is unavailable or inadequate.
Nadonely said the Holy Cross clinic met this requirement, and will be built as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, the council is planning a session with the Health Services Planning Board to hammer out the language of the proposed amendment.
"From a staff point of view, it is a very interesting idea," said Debbie Brunges, a planner on the health board. The board used to have a regulatory function, Brunges said, but it now draws up plans for allocating health services in the county and advises the State Health Resources Planning Commission, which approves new hospitals but not clinics.
"I don't know if this amendment would mean the Board of Appeals is deciding the functions of health care in the county," Brunges said. "It may just be a means of providing them with more information."
A California couple whose solar-heated home was thrown into the shade by a neighbor's growing trees has found there is no right to sunlight under that state's law.
Rudolph and Bonnie Sher sued their neighbors, P. Herbert and Gloria Leiderman, charging that the Leidermans' trees were a "private nuisance." But Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Taketsugu Takei said there is no right to solar access in the Golden State.
The problem began about 10 years ago when the Shers claimed the Leidermans' trees were beginning to block light they needed for home heating. The suit was filed about four years ago and the judge made his ruling several days ago.
"Although the court finds that the complaints of the Shers are very real both in the aspect of emotional distress and the reduction of potential property value," he wrote, "the injuries . . . are not ones that afforded protection or are recognized as a legally enforceable right in a court of law.
"In California law, there is no known light easement based on the factual situation presented here," the judge added. "Here . . . there is no known valid creation of a light easement under any recognized principle of law."
"From our perspective, this case is virtually perfectly situated for a successful appeal," said attorney Victor Sher, who is representing his parents. "We've recognized all along that a major issue in this case would be the failure of California law to recognize that access to the sun is an interest the same as other property interests. We think California law is ripe for a change."
The Leidermans' attorney, Mark Solomon, said, "It's a very nice conclusion. We don't have to remove any trees or cut any trees. The judge just applied the law, and the law is clear."
A Dutch businessman and a California attorney have been sentenced in an international land-fraud case described by prosecutors as the largest in U.S. history.
Rienk Hendricus Kamer, 41, the Dutch citizen, was expelled from the United States Monday and placed in the hands of authorities in the Netherlands for further prosecution.
Technically, Kamer received a 16-month U.S. prison term, but he was given credit for time already served, which would have resulted in his release Feb. 11.
U.S. District Judge Richard Gadbois also sentenced Kamer's codefendant, Bernard Whitney, to six months in a community treatment center and five years probation.
Prosecutors called the case the biggest fraud in U.S. history, involving up to 6,000 investors and $2 billion in undeveloped land in Utah, Texas, New York and the Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles.
Gadbois, implying that both defendants may still have funds secreted somewhere, ordered them to pay restitution to investors who lost millions if it is found that the defendants have the money.
According to the indictment, Kamer and Whitney purchased commercial land, then sold it at inflated prices to investors, most of them Europeans.
They also required investors to pay fees to them to manage and develop the land, but the land was never developed, the indictment said. Central to the fraud, according to the indictment, was the false promise of development financing by a U.S. financial institution.
Investors were told that the loans offered them certain tax shelter advantages, but those tax breaks were disallowed.
IN THE BUSINESS . . . Home sales in Montgomery County rose 12 percent in 1984, according to the Montgomery County Board of Realtors, while sales in Northern Virginia rose 1 percent from 1983, the Northern Virginia Board of Realtors said. Dale Ross, president of the Montgomery board, attributed the county's strong showing to lower interest rates and steady home prices -- the average price in the county was up only 2.57 percent over 1983. December was a particularly good month, with sales up 18 percent from December 1983. The median house price in December was $104,250, and the median condo/co-op was $64,200. Northern Virginia registered a 14 percent sales increase in December; the average price for a house was $115,300 and for a condo, $78,470. . . . Coldwell Banker Residential Affiliates, Inc., the franchise arm of the big real estate firm, has signed up Howlin Realty of Dunkirk as its 600th office . . . The Northern Virginia Builders Association has established the Institute for Construction Trades, a non-profit education and training organization that will try to help alleviate the chronic shortage of skilled labor in the housing industry here. It will offer apprenticeship programs in various trades and short-term courses for people who want to learn specific skills. Persons interested in training may call 893-6800.