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ARB tables vote on courthouse
Fredericksburg’s Architectural Review Board has delayed a decision to approve the city’s plans for a new courthouse.
The historic district ordinance requires that property owners within the district obtain a certificate of appropriateness from the ARB for any new construction in the district.
On Feb. 13, the board granted a certificate of appropriateness to demolish the two buildings at 701 and 707 Princess Anne St., where the new courthouse will go.
At Monday night’s meeting, the board discussed its reluctant 4–3 vote on Feb. 27 to grant a certificate of appropriateness for the scale, size and site plan for the new courthouse.
Last fall, City Council awarded a $32 million contract for the courthouse to FirstChoice Public–Private Partners.
Andrew Moore, the director of urban architecture for Glave & Holmes Architecture, was at the meeting to answer the board’s questions about the courthouse project.
“The architects presented materials and discussed aspects of the design, but the ARB had some questions that these guys weren’t able to answer,” said Erik Nelson, the city’s senior planner and liaison between city staff and the ARB. “Because they weren’t able to answer, they tabled the application.”
Those questions included concerns about the materials to be used on the courthouse, whether there will be a flag in front of it and possible signs, among other things.
For example, the board questioned why the builder is planning to use fake limestone and not local stone for the water table in the lower portion of the building. They also asked about roofing materials to be used.
Councilman-elect Matt Kelly, former Mayor Bill Beck and others who have closely monitored the courts project were at the meeting and asked questions of the board. Kelly asked the board to delay the vote.
Nelson said the ARB has to have a good reason to change a previous vote.
He said the board can reconsider a decision if there is a “substantial change in the facts, evidence or conditions relating to the application,” and it would take a vote by the full board to do it. He said that, at the meeting, those conditions were not met.
In the past, members have criticized the courthouse design, calling it “boxy” and saying that it is too large for its location on Princess Anne Street.