Courthouse Committee responds to inquiries

Published 3:08 pm Thursday, January 21, 2016

In response to recent inquiries about the proposed location of the new courthouse, the Charlotte County Courthouse Committee said a court order has commanded the location of the new courthouse due to security being a major concern.

A connection between the new courthouse and the existing clerk’s office would eliminate the cost of utilizing a full-time security officer in the clerk’s office and purchasing extra security equipment, according to the courthouse committee. Security screening would strictly be stationed in the courthouse for both facilities.

according to the release, “the Board has been charged by the court to carry out the court order as issued, which includes the location on the courthouse square and the connection to the existing clerk’s office.”  In addition, the release said the board has been locked in to a timetable from the court order in which they must comply with. “ Any changes to the architectural plans or location can only be instituted by another court order.  Any more litigation or changes to approved and appropriate Courthouse plans, other than minor ones, will only result in additional cost to the taxpayers of Charlotte County,” said the release.

At a December Board of Supervisors meeting, a resolution was adopted to proceed with the most recent plans presented by Glavé  and Holmes Architecture.

“The proposed courthouse uses a small aboveground connecting bridge that attaches to the 1996 addition on the back of the clerk’s office, creating a visual distance between the two buildings while maintaining a secure connection,” said the Courthouse Committee. “DHR’s recommended location would make forming a connection to the Clerk’s Office difficult and significantly more costly.”

According to the Courthouse Committee, DHR recommended building a freestanding building on county owned property adjacent to the parking lot. 

However, the Courthouse Committee said in doing this, it would reduce use of the square.

“The proposed location of the courthouse places the entrance to the new courthouse on the courthouse square, promoting continued activity on the square and ensuring that the square remains a vital part of the community,” they said. In addition, use of the slope would place several work spaces below ground level, resulting in no natural light.

The Committee said their purpose has always been to enhance the 1823 courthouse, and the county along with the architects believe that the proposed courthouse design is appropriately scaled to match the other structures currently located on the courthouse square. In addition, the size of the structure provides the dignity a courthouse deserves.

“DHR is tasked with the important duty of protecting the Commonwealth’s historic resources and the County values their diligence, having DHR involved in the original selection process.  The Supervisors, also, are tasked with this same duty,” said the courthouse committee.  “As with any major activity, there will be differences of opinion as to how this task is best addressed.  Moreover, the Board of Supervisors must also address the issues of conservation, equitable access, Virginia’s Justice system, security of its people, project funding, operational and maintenance costs, and future County needs.  Change is always difficult.  The County believes the proposed design can serve the long-term needs of the County and will, over time, take its place among our treasured structures on the courthouse square.”