Council to discuss courthouse options

Published 12:56 pm Saturday, June 9, 2018

Franklin’s City Council plans to discuss design options for the renovation of the Southampton County Courthouse during its scheduled meeting on Monday.

According to a memorandum from City Manager R. Randy Martin to the council members, the Southampton County Board of Supervisors recently received a report from Moseley Architects, the firm involved in preparing plans for the courthouse project. The report, which has been included as an addendum to Monday’s agenda, summarizes the three options that had been suggested for the courthouse prior to the referendum last November, and suggests four new options.

Of the three originally suggested options, only one remains on the table. This is to demolish the wing built in the 1960s and then construct a new addition, plus renovate the remaining 1830s structure. The other two original options, both of which have already been rejected, were to build a new courthouse on Camp Parkway or to do a “reduced scope” renovation that expands and renovates the existing courthouse while keeping the 1960s wing.

Option 4 calls for building a two-story addition on what is now the courthouse parking lot next to the 1960s wing, and to renovate the existing facility. All court functions, including circuit court, general district court and juvenile and domestic relations court, would be housed in the same building in this scenario.

Option 5 calls for the construction of a new courthouse to accommodate all court functions adjacent to the Southampton County Administrative Center, and would require the county to acquire additional land to make the Administrative Center contiguous with the existing courthouse property. State law allows this option, despite last year’s referendum, as long as the new plot of land is contiguous (bordering) the existing courthouse, to include being located across the street.

Option 6 calls for the construction of a new building adjacent to the County Administrative Center to house some court functions other than Circuit Court, and to renovate the existing courthouse, where Circuit Court functions will remain.

Option 7 calls for the construction of a new courthouse adjacent to the existing courthouse and the demolition of the 1960s wing to accommodate parking. In this scenario, court functions would be relocated to the new courthouse but the existing historic courthouse would be retained and re-purposed.

Martin confirmed that while he will pass along to the Southampton County Board if Supervisors any comments the council members make on the design options, the council does not get a formal vote on which option is chosen. The State Code mandates that the city reimburse the county for 30 percent of the cost of whatever renovation is chosen.

Also on the agenda for Monday is a resolution of appreciation to the city’s Fire Department and other agencies that responded to the fire at 210 N. Main St. on Thursday, May 17, which resulted in the loss of one of Franklin’s downtown storefronts. This will be given at the beginning of the meeting.

The council also plans to vote on appointments to the city’s school board for wards 4, 6, and the at-large seat. Marchelle Williams was re-nominated for Ward 4, Robert Holt was renominated for Ward 6 and Carrie Johnson was nominated to serve at-large. No other nominations were received.