Courthouse site list grows

Published 11:31 am Tuesday, November 8, 2011

WINTON – The number of potential construction sites for the new Hertford County Courthouse grew by one here Monday.

Meanwhile, hopes were dashed of constructing the $7.86 million facility inside the town ofWinton.

Following a 97-minute closed session, the Hertford County Commissioners re-opened the meeting to the public at which time several motions were voted on pertaining to the new courthouse.

The first of those proposals was to add the Riversedge property back to the list of possible construction sites. That property, 70 acres valued at $906,461 located west of Winton, was initially removed from consideration following the board’s Oct. 25 workshop. That motion was approved 4-1, with Commission Vice Chairman Curtis Freeman casting the lone dissenting vote.

“When we narrow this down and then put property back on, we’re not moving forward, we’re stepping back. Part of the process is to eliminate, not put back on,” Freeman said.

Commissioner Howard Hunter III then motioned to remove the Larry and Nancy Freeman tract (56+ acres located on US 13 north of Ahoskie; land value is $155,283) from consideration. That property was among the three leading contenders, but needs $606,320 worth of infrastructure improvements (extend a sewer line from Ahoskie).

Hunter and Commissioner Bill Mitchell voted in favor of removing the Freeman property from the list. Commissioner Ronald Gatling, Board Chairman Johnnie Ray Farmer and Freeman opposed, defeating the motion by a 3-2 vote.

“There’s been some dialogue over the Freeman property, it’s been mentioned that all funding sources haven’t been looked at,” Freeman said, referencing the possibility of obtaining grant money to extend Ahoskie’s sewer line to that site.

“As far as the Riversedge property, there’s some issues with the water and sewer,” Freeman added. ‘If you’re going to eliminate one over the lack of something, it’s only fair to eliminate the other.”

Currently, the county is looking at four possible sites, to include the Freeman property and Riversedge. The other two are:

Percy Bunch tract (25+ acres located near the intersection of US 158 Business and the Murfreesboro Bypass; land is valued at $262,683); and

Pierce Beasley & Company, Inc. tract (25 acres located on Community College Road in Union near the old Roanoke-Chowan Mental Health facility; land value is $124,070).

Six other tracts were eliminated from consideration at the Oct. 25 workshop.

“A reasonable goal would be that we get all the information we can on these four sites and narrow it down to two at our next meeting (Monday, Nov. 21),” Farmer suggested.

“Then narrow it to one by our Dec. 5 meeting,” asked Hunter.

“Maybe, maybe not,” Farmer replied. “We may have to have a little more time to complete the engineering studies on the two final sites.”

“As far as the Riversedge property, I would like to see us use county water there, not town (Winton) water,” Hunter said.

Farmer did confirm that the original construction site, across from the existing courthouse in Winton, is no longer under consideration.

“It’s off the table, out of sight, out of mind,” Farmer said. “We don’t have permission from the Town ofWintonto build it there.”

The original intent of the commissioners was to construct the new courthouse on county-owned property onTryon Street. They have hired an architect to draw up plans for that location.

However, since late spring, county officials and Winton Town Commissioners have been at odds over the new courthouse. At their Sept. 13 meeting, Winton Commissioners approved a street setback variance for the courthouse, but denied the county’s plan to provide for ample parking during the construction process.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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