New plans draw criticism

Published 12:07 pm Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Despite newly released plans for a new courthouse in Charlotte County — scaled-down from the original design — several residents scolded the new proposal, questioning the placement of the new facility.

Supervisors in Charlotte County were presented with the new plans during their Tuesday meeting before citizens — including the mayor of Charlotte Court House — criticized the plans.

According to County Purchaser and Planner Monica Elder, current plans for call the new 27,355-square-foot courthouse to be behind and connecting to the existing circuit court clerk’s office. She said a breezeway would attach the clerk’s office to the new courthouse.

No project costs were offered during Elder’s presentation.

Shutters and other ornamentations have been added to compliment the clerk’s office’s facade.

“If you have viewed the other previous documents, you’ll notice that the ornamentation is a lot more toned down on this facility and it’s a lot more in line with the existing buildings we have on the historical square,” Elder said. 

“The configuration for both the ground floor and the second floor are fairly similar,” she said. According to Elder, the courtroom would be in the center, and a ground-floor courtroom would be larger and provide more seating than the upstairs courtroom.

A sally port — or secured vehicle entrance — would be located in the basement level for the judge to  use and and for prisoner holdings.

“It appears that the town has been left out in some of the discussion,” said Charlotte Court House Mayor Stephen Walker. “The biggest object of concern is the current location. If that building attaches itself to the clerk’s office, then the historic history will enter into play,” he said.

County resident Kathy Liston said she wanted to commend Glavé & Holmes Architecture on toning down the building, noting the problem was the location.

“The building just overwhelms the square and the other buildings on it,” Liston said. “If we were to do what we have asked for all along and the experts have asked for, put it farther over the hill into the field.”

Liston said the by doing that, the building would look like a single-story structure from street.

Keysville resident Pamela K. Pettus said after viewing the updated plans submitted by the architects, she sent a letter to the firm voicing her opinion.

Her letter states “your latest plans show the new court facility as a massive addition to the historic tavern that is now the clerk’s office. A connector will serve as a bridge between the two structures. The only entrance to the clerk’s office will be through the new court facility.”

She said by doing this, the new structure would overwhelm the courthouse square and alter its historic character.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Pettus urged supervisors to submit the new plans to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources for feedback. 

In March, the Town of Charlotte Court House adopted a resolution requesting that supervisors direct the architectural firm toward a location for the new courthouse which would be adjacent to the existing parking lot on county land.

The resolution requested “that the new courthouse be redesigned to conform to Jeffersonian style architecture.”

“We have not always seen eye-to eye-with the county on various items here and there, but that’s just the nature of how things are,” Walker said.

Ed Early urged supervisors to listen to the residents of Charlotte Court House.

“The citizens of Charlotte Court House have no input into what this building looks like or what’s inside the building. The one thing they do care about is where it’s located … Now why in the world can’t you go along with what the citizens of Charlotte Court House want?” Early said.

The timeline for the new courthouse project outlined construction beginning Oct. 21, 2016.

The new courthouse is scheduled to be completed by Dec. 31, 2017. Currently, the county is in the final design document phase, which has a deadline of Feb. 28, 2016.