Originally created 12/11/97

Permission needed to relocate courthouse



Columbia County will need permission from the Georgia Legislature to relocate the county courthouse from its 200-year-old site in Appling.

The proposed move to County Camp Road requires changing the terms of a land grant locating the courthouse on five acres in Appling deeded to the county by William Appling in the 1790s.

"The preliminary work has already been done," County Commission Chairman Pete Brodie said. The new site is adjacent to the existing county jail, about three miles away.

Rosser Justice Systems -- a firm studying the county's courts and law enforcement facilities -- recommended new court facilities with six courtrooms, totaling about 235,000 square feet and costing more than $25 million.

Voters will be asked to finance the new facility -- along with other improvements to the local law enforcement system -- in a March bond referendum.

The move would be the second time in two decades that the county has asked the legislature approve the move of a county building.

"We moved the jail in the early '80s and had no problem getting them to approve that," said County Administrator Steve Szablewski.

The courthouse is just one issue county officials plan to take to the state delegation before the legislature convenes in January. Facing at least $20 million in right of way costs to connect the four-lane road with Washington Road, the county will also ask the state for guidance and possibly finding assistance for the future of Riverwatch Parkway.

"It is beyond our capability to fund it," said Commission Chairman Pete Brodie. "If (the state) want us to build Riverwatch Parkway they should show us the money. ... As far as I am concerned, Riverwatch can end where it is."