The Maryland Court of Special Appeals last week upheld a 2011 County Circuit Court decision to allow the expansion of Suburban Hospital despite opposition from surrounding homeowners.

The judgement, dated Sept. 10, is another important recent step in the hospital’s expansion plans. In August, Suburban was among a batch of hospitals to have letters of intent for expansion or relocation filed with the Maryland Health Care Commission. In April, the County Planning Board approved Suburban’s preliminary and site plans for the expansion.

The hospital (8600 Old Georgetown Rd.) says it badly needs the 235,000-square-foot addition that will mean some consolidation and a new four-story building and 1,125-space garage that will require the abandonment of Lincoln Street.

Neighbors, represented by the Huntington Terrace Citizens Association, are worried the expansion, abandonment of Lincoln Street and new garage will lead to more noise and traffic.

The Citizens Association appealed a 2010 decision by the Montgomery County Board of Appeals that gave the hospital a special exception to allow the project. The County Circuit upheld the Board of Appeals decision and, on appeal, the state’s Court of Special Appeals also upheld the decision.

“This is a very important decision for our patients and community,” said David C. Silver, chairman of the hospital’s Board of Trustees.  “Suburban’s Board is very proud of the quality of care the hospital provides, and the campus enhancement project is critical to the hospital’s ability to continue to provide state-of-the-art health care to our community.”

Before the Planning Board in April, Suburban brought business and community leaders to testify as to the importance of the hospital. The expansion would be the hospital’s first major one in 30 years.

Norman Knopf, attorney for the Huntongton Terrace Citizens Association, argued the expansion plans weren’t compatible with the area’s Master Plan.

Barbara Sears, attorney for Suburban Hospital, said the expansion of healthcare is a community service that’s included in the Master Plan. The Board of Appeals and County Council staff used that justification to allow the abandonment of Lincoln Street in 2011.

Suburban must have its plans approved by the Maryland Health Care Commission before it can proceed. The hospital estimates the expansion project will cost $230 million.