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Local Courthouse May Undergo Face-lift

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

October 11, 2005

There are security problems in many courthouses, and Madison county is no exception. They are planning to improve both security and structure to their courthouse.

This courthouse has upheld the law in Madison since 1830--but today, 170 years later--it lacks many 21st century conveniences--the first being space.

"We'll have more space, we'll have some more secure space in holding cells. Downstairs there will be a small courtroom, that can be used for hearings or magistrates or whatever, but basically we are trying to build something that we won't have to go back into for 25 or 50 years," said Chairman of the Madison Board of Supervisors David C. Jones.

The Board of Supervisors brought a proposal to the Town Planning Commission for renovation which includes creating the house behind the courthouse into the Commonwealth Attorney's Office--but the plan will keep the Jeffersonian style intact.

"It's being reviewed with the historic people in Richmond and they pretty much signed off on most of it," said Jones.

But some opponents oppose the renovation in favor of building a new courthouse just outside of the town, behind the High School.

"Justice has been rendered in that courthouse since 1830 and to move it just because of somebody's whim would be unfortunate. The cost to the county, we're estimating we can do it for about 40 to 50 cents on the dollar compared to new construction," said Jones.

But there are also supporters of the renovation that disagree with the proposed plan.

A member of the Town Planning Commission said her biggest concern was the re-zoning--mainly the traffic, noise, and parking problems it could cause in residential areas, as well as what re-zoning could allow on the property if it was ever sold.

The Madison Town Planning Commission received the proposal about two weeks ago.


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