Murfreesboro bids for courthouse

Published 9:48 am Thursday, August 25, 2011

MURFREESBORO — “We’ll take them.”

Those were the words from Murfreesboro Town Councilman Bill Theodorakis on Tuesday as he and his colleagues discussed a proposal from the town to the county to construct the new Hertford County Courthouse in Murfreesboro; therefore moving the county seat to the town.

Town Administrator Brandon Holland spoke to council members about a letter drafted by Mayor John Hinton to county officials that outlined the proposal.

“It lets them know that us here in Murfreesboro are willing to work with them to move the county seat, the county courthouse to Murfreesboro or the ETJ (extraterritorial jurisdiction),” Holland said.

Holland passed out copies of the letter to council members. Councilwoman Gloria Odum asked for background on the topic.

“I believe there have been some roadblocks with the county and the current location and I think there have been some construction issues with parking,” Holland responded.

Recently, the Hertford County Board of Commissioners decided to explore moving the county seat to Ahoskie and/or relocating the site of the new courthouse after having several issues with the town of Winton, including a variance on the town’s street setback ordinance for the new courthouse and how to address vehicle parking once construction begins.

“The Murfreesboro Town Council understands your dilemma in attempting to obtain permission for the construction of a new court facility in Winton,” the letter states. “Therefore, we would like for you to examine the possibility of relocating the courthouse as well as the county seat to Murfreesboro.”

Hinton’s letter said Murfreesboro would be an effective location for the courthouse due to the population density and geographic location. Hinton noted the town understood the costs and risks associated with such a decision, but assured the county that Murfreesboro “provides the hospitable environment” officials seek and is willing to offer any assistance associated with infrastructure in achieving the movement of the county seat.

“There are several prime locations within Murfreesboro and the immediate extraterritorial jurisdiction suitable to your needs,” Hinton wrote. “However, one particular location, just outside the town limits, would afford convenient access on US 158/258 and NC Route 11 as well as offering slightly more than forty acres to allow for future expansion.”

Hinton added that he had discussed the possibility with the owners and they are willing to explore options with the county to meet their needs.

Council members’ feelings on the matter reflected those expressed by Hinton in the letter.

Theodorakis said the move would be good for Murfreesboro and the town’s future.

“I think we should do everything possible (to help them) within reason,” said Theodorakis. “We’ll take them.”

Mayor Pro-Tempore Sarah Wallace agreed.

“I think we all would (be willing to work with the county),” she said.

Around the same time as the council meeting on Tuesday, Hinton met with Hertford County Commission Chair Johnnie Farmer and County Attorney Charles Revelle to discuss the proposal. Hinton arrived toward the end of the council meeting after conferring with the county officials.

“We have officially submitted a document requesting they move the courthouse to Murfreesboro,” he said.

He reiterated that a property totaling more than 40 acres had been identified.

“They have 19 acres in Winton, we have 46 acres over here,” Hinton said. “We can move the whole county complex to Murfreesboro.”

He concluded the proposal was going to be presented to the commissioners.