Plans are on track for building district judge office in Cranberry

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Plans for a new district judge's office in Cranberry are advancing without any issues of concern to township officials.

“It’s a good plan and a very good use of a piece of property that has been unused for a very long time,” said planning director Ron Henshaw.

The single-story, 7,802 square foot-building will be at 9028 Marshall Road, near the Leonberg Road industrial park. The new offices will have a full basement.

Butler County Commissioners gave the go-ahead last year for a county-owned building to house the district judge office, now in Suite 140 at 213 Executive Drive, a rental property. It’s been based there since January 2004.

The project is expected to receive final approval from township officials within a month or so.

The one acre of land where the new building will be built is zoned for commercial uses, though township ordinances allow municipal offices to be located in just about any district. “This is an ideal site for such a use,” Mr. Henshaw said.

Butler County Commissioners chairman Bill McCarrier said the decision was made to build the office because it’s more economically prudent. The project is expected to cost about $700,000. The purchase price for the land was $92,000. He said the new building is expected to be ready for occupancy mid-year.

Mr. Henshaw said the property has been undeveloped for more than decade. “For at least 15 years. People have looked at it many times but it’s in a long and narrow configuration and it was challenging to develop,” he said. He said the proposed use fits the property nicely. The only thing on the site now is a vacant mobile home.

“It’s great to have something like this come in. It gets rid of an eyesore and produces a decent development that will serve the public,” Mr. Henshaw said.

A district judge's office is the hub of many local court operations, from hearings on traffic violations to proceedings that determine whether a criminal case will proceed to Common Pleas Court in Butler.

In 2011, county commissioners agreed to a five-year extension on a lease for office rental space for the district judge. The lease had expired in December 2010. Rent  is about $5,500 per month, including utilities.

The county had talked for many years about building or buying a district judge office in Cranberry but had problems finding something that was deemed economical.

The Cranberry judicial district covers Cranberry and Seven Fields and is one of seven districts in Butler County.

Karen Kane: or 724-772-9180.

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