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New courthouse sketch recalls local landmarks

Building headed for Planning Board review April 26
By Ethan Andrews | Apr 21, 2017
Photo by: Ethan Andrews Belfast City Planner Wayne Marshall on April 18 shows the City Council an updated sketch of the new courthouse planned for construction a block from City Hall.

Belfast — New drawings of the $17 million courthouse slated for construction here drew comparisons to Waldo County General Hospital and Crosby High School when they were unveiled to the City Council April 18.

The building will combine district and superior courts in a single two-story, 37,000-square-foot structure, situated on 1.1 acres on Church Street between Market and Anderson streets.

Preliminary sketches of the courthouse caused a minor public fiasco when they were released late last year. The building, then shown as a nondescript modern block surrounded a parking lot and sloping lawn, was panned as ugly and out of character with the neighborhood, in stark contrast to the original 1873 Superior Court across the street.

Maine Judicial Branch spokeswoman Mary Ann Lynch acknowledged the confusion. The early drawings, she said, were made for the benefit of the Legislature during the initial request for funding.

"It's difficult because you have a drawing that people say, 'Oh, that's your plan,'" she said.

Lynch said the look of the building is not likely to change substantially from here, but she noted that it still must go before the Planning Board. The board is scheduled to review a preliminary site plan and use permit application for the courthouse Wednesday, April 26, at 6:30 p.m., City Hall.

"Until you get that Planning Board approval, it's a work in progress," Lynch said.

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