Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Green Cove Gives Go-Ahead on Courthouse Expansion; County Is Being Asked to Pick Up $75,000 toward Construction of Stormwater Project

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Green Cove Gives Go-Ahead on Courthouse Expansion; County Is Being Asked to Pick Up $75,000 toward Construction of Stormwater Project

Article excerpt

Byline: DEBORAH CEARNAL

Provided the county meets 24 conditions that include stormwater retention, utilities, landscaping and sewer hookups, the Green Cove Springs City Council has approved the courthouse expansion plans.

Acting on the recommendation of the city's planning and zoning board, council members voted 4-0 in favor of the measure that grants variances for fewer parking spaces per square feet of building and for exceeding the height limit within city limits. Councilman Matthew Tinney was absent.

"It's been a long journey," County Commissioner Patrick McGovern, chairman of the county's courthouse building committee, told the council. "I appreciate the cooperation we have received."

One of the conditions the city asked of the county is $75,000 in assistance toward construction of a $2.3 million stormwater project on Center Street. McGovern promised he would take the request to commissioners.

"We took about $800,000 off the city [tax] rolls. I think it would be a nice gesture on our part [to help with expenses]," McGovern said. "It will be a building you will be proud of."

The new 86,756-square-foot building will be perpendicular to the present courthouse and face U.S. 17. Although the city has a 35-foot maximum height requirement, the variance will allow the new structure to be 56 feet tall. The old courthouse is 54 feet high. Making the transition between the two buildings will be an entrance with a 132-foot clock tower.

The planning and zoning board wrestled with the tower issue during a June meeting. In a 3-2 vote, the board OK'd the height adjustment for the building and the tower. Board members Sara Spurrier and Bill Williams voted against the proposal. Both indicated they approved of the building height, but had reservations about the looming clock tower.

"I have a problem with [a tower that's] 76 feet above the courthouse," Spurrier said during the zoning meeting. …

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