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Howard County Times
Howard County

Planning board approves zoning amendments for new courthouse development plans

Plans for a new county courthouse took a step forward Thursday when the county's planning board approved zoning amendments for the proposed location on Bendix Road in Columbia.

The zoning amendments identified the courthouse as a permitted use for the property's zoning type, "Employment Center-Industrial." The zoning amendments are necessary in order to move forward with the proposed development of a new courthouse on the property, according to the Department of Planning and Zoning's technical staff.

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Amendments to the zoning stipulations will allow potential developers more flexibility when submitting proposals for the site, Pete Stone, an architect with the consulting firm Pennoni Associates, said during the meeting.

The nearly 30-acre, county-owned property on Bendix Road currently includes a one-story building that houses government agencies and the land records office, as well as a 9.5-acre parking lot.

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Proposed plans for a courthouse to replace the outdated, 174-year-old courthouse building in old Ellicott City have been talked about on and off for decades, but finally began moving forward late last year with a push from County Executive Allan Kittleman. The new building would include 227,000 feet of space for eight courtrooms and a 600-space parking garage, with a projected completion date of 2021.

Officials put out an "expression of interest" in July to the business community for proposal submissions to be part of the private consortium of consultants who will handle design, construction and maintenance of the courthouse, according to Daryl Paunil, chief of facilities in the Department of Public Works. The consultants would work as part of the P3 public-private partnership the county aims to use to finance the project.

Submissions are due to the county by Sept. 20. The county will review and choose the top three submissions before moving into the request for development round, Paunil said. The county hopes to have chosen the private consultants, including an architect, construction contractor, financier and operation and maintenance group, in approximately a year.




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