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Halifax Town Planning Commission begins discussion of county's proposed courthouse plans

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HALIFAX COUNTY (WSLS 10) - Halifax County supervisors are now one step closer to getting the zoning approvals they need from the town of Halifax in order to renovate and upgrade the courthouse.

Last week, the Halifax Town Planning Commission held its first discussion on the county's proposed plans.

"[The] historical society, Department of Historical Resources, have made some initial comments in terms of the massing of the building for the annex and some ideas to use so perhaps it doesn't quite overwhelm the courthouse square," planning commission chairman and town manager Carl Espy explained.

The courthouse is the crown jewel of the town's long-range downtown streetscape plan and therefore the planning commission wants to make sure that any renovations and upgrades don't interfere with the plan.

Part of the plan includes preserving as much of the courthouse's history as possible, something Halifax County Historical Society's President Barbara Bass was beginning to worry about.

"From the beginning, we didn't really feel like we played the role we could have being people who are interested in preservation and restoration," said Bass. "But, I feel now that the tide is changing; that our views are being heard."

County Administrator Jim Halasz emphasized that the current architectural renderings for the courthouse are a blank slate.

"We're very happy to have them look, provide input, provide feedback for us that we may be able to use in the plans," Halasz explained.

The county is under a consent order to renovate the courthouse because of a lawsuit filed by retired circuit court judge Joel Cunnigham to get the county to make security and structural upgrades.

Per the order, the county has 42 months to complete the work and Halasz says its expected to cost $17 to 18 million.

The next planning commission meeting is scheduled for September 28.


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