City wants courthouse to stay downtown


The Annapolis City Council has added its voice to those urging the county to construct a new circuit courthouse in the downtown district.

The county is considering moving the courthouse from the historic district to the corner of Rowe Boulevard and Taylor Avenue, where Lodge 622 of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks stands.

Council members pointed out Monday night that Annapolis has been the state capital since 1695 and the only seat of county government in Anne Arundel history. Annapolis "would suffer greatly if that courthouse is removed," said Alderman John Hammond, introducing the resolution.

The county, which two years ago abandoned plans to expand the current courthouse, favors a joint venture with the state to build a combined Circuit Court-District Court facility at the lodge site, across from the state Court of Appeals building.

The county had obtained approval from the Historic District Commission to expand the courthouse facilities on the site of the present courthouse on Church Circle.

However, County Executive Robert R. Neall and court officials are not happy with the $16.3 million plan to build downtown and house court clerks across the street in the Arundel Center.

Monday night, the council predicted "dire consequences" if the circuit courthouse is moved.

"It is of vital importance to the economic livelihood and existence of the downtown commercial and professional district that the courthouse remain located" in the historic downtown district, said Hammond, of Ward 1.

During Monday's meeting, the council also discussed changing the city code to allow bed-and-breakfast establishments in the Residential Conservation Overlay District of Eastport.

The council will vote on these issues at its July 13 meeting.

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