The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Fredericksburg council to discuss courtroom renovation
BY ROBYN SIDERSKY
In a work session tonight, the Fredericksburg City Council will discuss whether the city’s General District Court will undergo major or minor renovations.
At a work session in June, the council discussed alternative options for several aspects of the courts project.
One of the options presented by First Choice Public–Private Partners, the team the council selected to design and build the new courthouse, was to do minor renovations to the General District Court instead of major renovations.
In a July 9 memo to the Council, City Manager Beverly Cameron wrote that the cost would be $4.8 million for a major renovation, and $2.78 million for the alternative, a minor renovation.
He wrote that a minor renovation “may not provide all desired court security upgrades” but critical building systems would be upgraded. The money saved could generate funds for use at the Renwick building, the current Circuit Court building.
The design–build team has outlined the pros and cons for doing minor renovations instead of the current plan of major renovations for the court, which is being converted to house the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.
The pros listed: Cost savings.Major systems, such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and electrical, are replaced.
The cons listed: Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court security concerns might not be fully addressed. No sally port, a secure entryway in which prisoners arrive and depart. No changes to improve the efficient use of space.
Cameron said in an interview that he does not expect the council to make a decision at the work session.
Councilman Fred Howe won’t be present at the work session or the meeting.
In the council’s regular meeting, there will be five public hearings related to zoning permits for the new courthouse.
The permits are for:
-A special-use permit to construct the new building in the historic district.
-A special-use permit to put a new motor vehicle curb cut for access to the basement.
-A special-exception to use existing off-site parking resources instead of providing parking on-site.
-A special-exception to the floor-area-ratio of 3.5, instead of the maximum of 3.0 in the commercial-downtown district.
-A special exception for the amount of usable floor area permitted in the building and the area of the lot on which the building stands.
-A special exception to construct the new building at 57 feet, instead of the maximum of 50 feet in the commercial-downtown district.
The council will hear comments from the public, but also is not likely to vote on the public hearing items.