While the in-court battle over the proposed Broadlands Regional Medical Center continues, at least one aspect of the lawsuit between the hospital's representatives and the county has been resolved. The Northern Virginia Community Hospital (NVCH) filed suit last year challenging the Board of Supervisors' ruling that denied the Comprehensive Plan amendments and rezonings need to begin construction of the hospital.
Judge Thomas D. Horne gave a summary judgment Oct. 18, that upheld the Board of Supervisors' decision not to readvertise changes made to the amendments before voting.
"The Court finds that the notice adequately informed the public that the amendments would address, among other things, the location and type of health-care facilities in the county," Horne said in his judgment. "Just as a comprehensive plan is general in nature, refinements during the course of public debate, become but a subset of the notice, so long as the action take lies within the scope of the original proposal."
THE PROPOSED hospital is a 164-bed facility located along the west side of Belmont Ridge Road and south of the Dulles Greenway in Broadlands. The location is less than five miles from the existing Inova Loudoun Hospital in Lansdowne. The short distance between the two locations has been the subject of a separate ongoing court battle between Inova and the Hospital Corporation of American (HCA), owner of the proposed Broadlands Regional Medical Center.
In August 2005, the board voted against HCA's request for a special exception to build the hospital citing concerns about traffic and cohabitation with surrounding neighborhoods. The board's denial caused Northern Virginia Community Hospital, which is the leasee of the proposed Broadlands hospital site, to file suit.
In September, parties for both sides argued before Horne whether the Supervisors should have sent changes they made to the Comprehensive Plan amendment back through a public hearing before proceeding to a vote, leading to Horne's decision.
The judge's ruling and the issue of readvertisement could also come into play in the board's recent decision to approve the Rural Policy Area Comprehensive Plan amendment. Sept. 6, the board voted to approve an amendment that allowed for more intensive residential density in the rural west than was originally advertised. Supervisors were split over whether a readvertisement and subsequent public hearing were necessary to keep the vote free from legal challenge.
REPRESENTATIVES FROM both sides of the lawsuit were in court Thursday, Nov. 3, to discuss issues of discovery. Following subpoenas issued by attorneys for Northern Virginia Community Hospital, representatives for Inova Loudoun and its affiliates, including law firms and public relations firms, were also in court.
While all public records regarding the denial made by the Board of Supervisors have already been obtained by the NVCH through the Freedom of Information Act, the hospital's attorneys are asking for copies of all communications related to the Broadlands Regional Medical Center.
"We are asking for any communication between and among Loudoun Hospital and its entities," Mark Looney, one of NVCH's attorneys said.
The request includes any documents that refer to the Comprehensive Plan amendment and the Board of Supervisors.
"We are looking at, were there any other communication about the [Comprehensive Plan amendment] between those entities?" Looney said.
IN COURT Thursday, Horne asked that all of the previously obtained public documents be consolidated and that the subpoenaed parties be given an electronic database for their use.
"I think you all ought to have copies of these documents," Horne said. "You are arguing in a vacuum without it."
He added that the only way for everyone to be "working from the same playbook" would be to create a single database.
Attorneys will be back in court, Dec. 6, at 1 p.m., when they will argue whether the subpoenaed parties should be required to produce all their communications about the Broadlands Regional Medical Center.