Board to proceed with plans

Published 5:47 pm Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Charlotte County Board of Supervisors has unanimously adopted a resolution to proceed with plans for a new courthouse that have angered historic preservationists.

The action was taken during the board’s Tuesday meeting.

The plans depict a three-story building connected to the existing circuit court clerk’s office.

“The board adopts this resolution to renew its commitment to proceed towards construction on new court facilities as depicted on the most recent drawings provided by the county’s architect, Glave and Holmes,” said County Supervisor Robert Shook.

County Supervisor Dr. Nancy Carwile made the motion to accept the resolution as presented with board member Garland Hamlett seconding the motion.

The plans supported by the board were recently called inappropriate by the state’s Department of Historic Resources.

“It has always been [the department’s] view that it is both unnecessary and inappropriate to sacrifice historic buildings or the integrity of the setting within which they are located,” department director Julie Langan said in a letter to County Administrator R.B. Clark.

“I want to spend the taxpayers’ money just like my money,” Hamlett said. “I’ve had to make decisions a lot of times on a lot of things I don’t like.” 

Hamlett said if he had a personal way of doing it, he would not support the courthouse project at all.

“I’ve got to vote the way the majority of people in this county expect me to vote,” he said.

During the board’s January meeting, several citizens voiced concerns about the proposed location of the courthouse before the resolution was adopted to move forward with the most recent plans.

“I am perplexed and concerned with the many inconsistencies that keep appearing with this courthouse project,” said county resident Kathy Liston.

She said historic experts and the preservation community were specific in where they wanted the separate courthouse building to be located.

Liston said their desired location was “on the edge of the slope, taking advantage of the natural topography to appear as a low profile building on the courthouse square.”

County supervisors maintain that a court order from the judges has insisted that the courthouse be built on the courthouse square.

Reed Charlton, of Charlotte Court House, said the court order did not specify location or the proposed connection to the clerk’s office. “Location makes a difference,” he said.

County resident Ed Early also said location matters and the only thing being asked is that the structure be moved over approximately 50-100 feet.

“Finances are not the issue,” said county resident Terry Ramsey. “Mistakes have been made, but let’s do the right thing now.

Ramsey said it disturbs him that the county chose to spend $294,000 from 2012-2015 on multiple plans and litigation costs, when they had the “wherewithal” to just build the new court facilities.

“Even up to this point, I’ve listened to what you folks have to say and I appreciate the work you have done,” Garland Hamlett said. “ I also understand the board has done a lot of work.”