Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Courthouse Work OK'd, with Conditions; Stormwater Retention, Utilities, Sewer Hookups, among City Requirements

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Courthouse Work OK'd, with Conditions; Stormwater Retention, Utilities, Sewer Hookups, among City Requirements

Article excerpt

Byline: BETH REESE CRAVEY

The $19 million expansion of the Clay County courthouse in Green Cove Springs may be under way as soon as January, having cleared the major hurdle of winning City Council approval.

But County Commissioners may not get a final cost estimate until September. And they ultimately face another courthouse-related decision -- whether to put future parking additions on the ground or build a controversial parking garage.

Still, commissioners were thankful and relieved that Green Cove Springs' planning and zoning board and council approved the expansion plans earlier this month, even though the city imposed 24 conditions that include stormwater retention, utilities, landscaping and sewer hookups.

"We appreciate the city's willingness to cooperate," said commission Chairman George Bush.

Last week, the commission readily agreed to a city request for $75,000 toward construction of a $2.3 million stormwater improvement project on Center Street.

"In the spirit of cooperation . . . that would be a gesture of good faith on our part," said Commissioner Patrick McGovern, chairman of the commission's buildings committee, who has acted as the board's liaison with the city.

Runoff from the courthouse and adjacent county administration properties currently drains into three city stormwater systems and a larger courthouse will increase that impact, he said. Also, the courthouse expansion is removing from the city tax rolls about $800,000 in potential property taxes, he said.

In addition, the city has offered to help relocate its utility lines when the county improves Houston Street, on the south side of the courthouse, he said.

"The city is going to be working with us. That will save us a lot of money," McGovern said.

The 96,000-square-foot project will double the existing amount of space at the courthouse. …

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