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Halifax supes to hear latest on Courthouse Project / August 07, 2017
The Halifax County Board of Supervisors will tackle a heavy agenda at tonight’s monthly board meeting, highlighted by a presentation on the Courthouse Project.

Roanoke lawyer Jeremy Carroll, the county’s legal advisor, and Mike Griffin, architect for CJMW, the design firm that has produced a plan to renovate and expand the historic courthouse complex, will review details of the undertaking with supervisors.

The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. in the second floor meeting room of the Mary Bethune Complex in Halifax. The Courthouse presentation is open to the public but supervisors do not plan to take questions from the audience.

In other agenda items, supervisors will consider a draft ordinance on utility-scale solar projects in Halifax County, and consider an application to build a Dollar General store in the northern part of the county, near Brookneal.

» In their presentation on the courthouse, Carroll and Griffin are expected to provide information on the current status of construction schematics, and set forth a schedule for bidding and benchmarks toward actual construction.

The cost of the Courthouse Project has been estimated at $17 million, although officials have noted that the actual costs won’t be known until the project goes to bid.

The $17 million estimate does not include plans for repairing or replacing the dilapidated office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, which stands next to the historic courthouse but is separated by a narrow pathway. Supervisors have made no decisions on the future of the prosecutors’ office building, although they have suggested moving the office into the Main Street building that now houses the sheriff’s department.

Carroll, who has continued to advise the county on the Courthouse Project even after resigning as county attorney two years ago, also is expected to speak on the current status of the consent order with the state judiciary to settle a lawsuit to compel improvements to the courthouse. He also will address the question of a zoning permit that the County is seeking from the Town of Halifax.

So far, Halifax Town Council has taken no action on issuing the permit, which town officials say is necessary before construction work can begin.

Town of Halifax officials have complained that the county developed its plans for the courthouse improvements without consulting them.

» Also, supervisors will consider a draft zoning ordinance amendment to regulate solar farms in the county.

The ordinance change would allow large-scale solar facilities in A-1 agricultural districts. Smaller-scale solar facilities of less than 200 kilowatts — appropriate for powering business facilities — would be allowed in M-1 and M-2 industrial districts.

Issues to be addressed include the size of buffers and setbacks, and whether fencing will be required around solar fields. The ordinance also sets requirements for financing the decommissioning of solar facilities when they reach the end of their productive use.

These and other concerns have cropped up in neighboring Mecklenburg County, where three solar energy companies are seeking to build large-scale arrays. Mecklenburg has shared its consultants’ reports on solar energy development with Halifax County.

Supervisors are not expected to take any action tonight on the proposed amendment, since a public hearing on solar energy facilities has been set for August 15 before the County Planning Commission.

Supervisors have also scheduled a public hearing for 6:30 p.m. on a rezoning application from A-1 to B-2 in ED-1 of a 2.42 acre lot from James F. Jennings Sr. for the proposed construction of a new Dollar General retail store, to be located on Route 501 about one-tenth mile north of its intersection with Cody Road.

Supervisors also are expected to approve abandoning the 0.24 mile unopened portion of Cousins Lane since it serves no public purpose. A request for vacation of the road was made by Brian and Ashley Hall.

Supervisors will also consider agreeing to a mutual aid effort for animal control services with Pittsylvania County. The agreement would provide for support during emergencies and other unusual operating conditions. The agreement calls for each county to reimburse the other for actual costs incurred in any support event.

Supervisors will also review a request from Connie Nyholm of VIR and Cathy Rice of South Boston Speedway asking that their businesses be exempted from the County’s Noise Ordinance which in the future could jeopardize their operations. Rice is also seeking permission to have a special fireworks display at South Boston Speedway on Aug. 26 as part of the celebration of its 60th birthday.

The Board needs to make appointments to fill several vacancies on boards and commissions.

They will also consider discussing the acquisition of certain real property on the Courthouse Square in closed session since public discussion could adversely affect their bargaining position.

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Hear this. "Of the 14,300 households in Halifax County in 2015, 51 percent had incomes that were too low to afford the basics including housing, food, transportation and health care, according to a report released last month by the United Way."

So why are you spending over $17 million on a courthouse renovation in a county with a declining population?

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