New courthouse in Annapolis gets first nod

February 05, 1993|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

A county advisory panel gave preliminary approval yesterday to $33.5 million worth of capital projects, including plans for a new county courthouse in Annapolis that would preserve the historic part of the existing building.

The Planning Advisory Board, which makes budget recommendations to the county executive, also gave conditional approval for a new firehouse on General's Highway in Crownsville.

Final votes on those and other projects from various county departments are expected March 4 before the board presents its interim report to Robert R. Neall, the executive.

The plan for a $43 million courthouse that would take up most of the block bordered by Church Circle, South, Cathedral and Franklin streets, is one of the county's most ambitious building -- projects.

County officials, who included members of the Annapolis Historic District Commission on their planning team, first negotiated their way around height and bulk restrictions imposed by the commission.

Meanwhile, the county's architect has drafted a plan that would limit the height of the courthouse where it abuts the Banneker-Douglass museum on Franklin Street and allow it to rise to its highest level across Cathedral Street from Anne Arundel General Hospital.

Before construction begins, an archaeological dig will be done, particularly along Franklin Street, where it is believed a community of free blacks lived during Colonial times, said Rodell E. Phaire, a public works engineer.

The county plans to spend $12.5 million on the courthouse project in the coming fiscal year, $14.3 million in fiscal 1995 and another $14.3 million in 1996.

County officials said they expect to start advertising for construction bids in the summer of 1994.

The vote on the Crownsville fire station was one the board put off last week.

They asked fire officials to study the possibility of consolidating fire services for West Annapolis and Heritage Harbor at Crownsville so that only one station would be needed.

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