What shared scooters in 2019 brought to Bloomington: $107K and fewer complaints

 

Bloomington’s uReport system for resident complaints features this item from mid-July last year: “When will the city start removing this debris?”

It was a mordant reference to the “pile of scooters” blocking the 6th Street sidewalk in front of the public library.

Complaints and comments about scooters have diminished since the Bird and Lime companies deployed them in Bloomington, starting in September 2018. But complaints have not completely disappeared. On Friday morning, @indiana_rachel Tweeted a photo of an 8-strong phalanx of Lime scooters parked in a way that blocks sidewalk passage, saying, “Hard to get past this in a wheelchair.” [Added 9:05 a.m. on Jan. 24, 2020, shortly after initial  publication]

The number of complaints and comments in the UReport system is one one way to track the activity of the shared-use electric scooters in the city.

Other ways include rides taken and fees paid by scooter companies to Bloomington. Continue reading “What shared scooters in 2019 brought to Bloomington: $107K and fewer complaints”

Bloomington’s new non-consensual towing ordinance to get more scrutiny, possible revisions before adoption by city council

On Wednesday night, the Bloomington city council’s committee of the whole voted 0–8 on a recommendation to adopt a new non-consensual towing ordinance . That doesn’t kill the legislation.

But the implication of the 0–8 tally is that the council is almost certain to postpone consideration of the new local law, when it appears for a second reading on its Feb. 5 regular meeting agenda. Continue reading “Bloomington’s new non-consensual towing ordinance to get more scrutiny, possible revisions before adoption by city council”

Legal wrangling on eminent domain for 4th Street parking garage continues as Bloomington disputes landowner’s objections on grounds of funding, design

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A view from the northwest corner of the  4th Street parking structure site on Jan. 22, 2020. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

On Tuesday, Bloomington filed its latest brief with the Monroe County circuit court in its attempt to use eminent domain to acquire the 222 S. Walnut building that houses Juan Carlos Carrasquel’s real estate business. Continue reading “Legal wrangling on eminent domain for 4th Street parking garage continues as Bloomington disputes landowner’s objections on grounds of funding, design”

Bus ridership up 1.75% over last year as transit board mulls tweaks to proposed new routes, how to court Bloomington city council on key policy changes

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At their Tuesday night meeting, the Bloomington Transit board gets a walk-through from general manager Lew May (blue shirt) of staff-recommended adjustments to a system of route re-configurations that came out of a consultant’s study. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting of the Bloomington Transit (BT) board delivered a bright spot of news. The 3.16 million rides taken on fixed route buses in 2019 reflect a 1.75-percent increase over the total from 2018.

As BT general manager Lew May noted, it’s the first year-to-year increase since 2014, after four straight years of decreases. Continue reading “Bus ridership up 1.75% over last year as transit board mulls tweaks to proposed new routes, how to court Bloomington city council on key policy changes”

Owners of demolished house fight Bloomington’s $83.5K fine two ways: Court action, appeal to BZA

 

After the owners of a house on West 7th Street demolished it last year, the city of Bloomington imposed an $83,500 fine—for not first getting a certificate of zoning compliance.

Before the house was demolished, it was reviewed for possible historic designation. According to city officials, it was still under the review process, when it was demolished.

The city imposed the fine in late October, after the house was demolished on Sept. 27.

What has happened since then?

Baker and Holdman immediately appealed to the city’s board of zoning appeals (BZA). A bit later, in mid-December, they filed a mandamus action in Monroe’s circuit court. Continue reading “Owners of demolished house fight Bloomington’s $83.5K fine two ways: Court action, appeal to BZA”

City council land use committee: Mixed-use development with 344 bedrooms, 19K square feet of commercial space needs second meeting

Last Wednesday, the Bloomington city council’s four-member land use committee met to review a planned unit development (PUD) proposed for the empty lot on the north side of the Longview Avenue, between Pete Ellis Drive and 7th Street.

The zoning proposal from Curry Urban Properties would allow for construction of a single four-story building with 344 bedrooms and 19,000 square feet of commercial space, enclosing two interior courtyards on the east and west sides of a structured parking garage with a total of 306 parking spaces.

Of the 264 dwelling units, 15 percent of them would have rents keyed to either the same as the area median income (AMI) or no more than 120 percent of AMI.

After hearing from planning staff, the petitioner Tyler Curry, and neighbors, the land use committee decided to hold a second meeting on the proposal, scheduled for Jan. 29 at 5:45 p.m. Continue reading “City council land use committee: Mixed-use development with 344 bedrooms, 19K square feet of commercial space needs second meeting”

2020 Local Primaries: Few contested primary races so far with 3 weeks to go for candidate filings

Since Jan. 8, the first day that declarations of candidacy could be filed this year for primary nominations, a dozen or so people have filed their paperwork for offices in the Monroe County area. Candidates have until noon Feb. 7 to file a declaration.

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At least one primary race will be contested—for the three at-large county councilor positions. After issuing a joint press release announcing their intention to seek re-election, incumbent Democrats Trent Deckard, Geoff McKim, and Cheryl Munson all filed their declarations Friday a week ago (Jan. 10).

Joining the three county council incumbents on the May 5 Democratic Party primary ballot will be Dominic Thompson, who filed his declaration the day before the three incumbents did. Continue reading “2020 Local Primaries: Few contested primary races so far with 3 weeks to go for candidate filings”

Monroe County councilor on possible local income tax increase: “This was not anything proposed by the county.”

Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, made a New Year’s Day announcement  that he wanted to see an additional 0.5 percent in local income tax collected countywide. Hamilton wants to spend the extra portion of tax money allocated to Bloomington  on climate action.

Under the current state statute, Bloomington’s city council has a 58-percent voting share on the county’s local income tax council. So a five-vote majority on Bloomington’s nine-member city council could enact the extra 0.5 percent of local income tax on all county residents. The voting shares are allocated based on population.

The mayor’s proposal hasn’t received air time at two regular meetings and two work sessions held by the Bloomington city council so far this year.

In contrast, county officials had a lot to say about the local income tax proposal at Tuesday’s first county council meeting of the year. They didn’t take any formal action. Continue reading “Monroe County councilor on possible local income tax increase: “This was not anything proposed by the county.””

Bonds for first step of Bloomington’s public housing conversion get final OK from city council

At its regular Wednesday meeting, Bloomington’s city council voted unanimously to approve the issuance of up to $11 million in economic development notes to support the renovation of Bloomington’s public housing stock.

The bond issuance approved this week was for rehabbing two of the three Bloomington Housing Authority (BHA) properties—the Walnut Woods and Reverend Butler sites. BHA’s executive director, Amber Skoby, told the council that planning will start this summer for similar work on the third BHA site—the Crestmont Community.

“After that’s done, we won’t have any more public housing in Bloomington,” Skoby said.

Councilmember Steve Volan’s reaction conveyed amazement: “Does that mean you won’t have a job? I don’t understand.” Continue reading “Bonds for first step of Bloomington’s public housing conversion get final OK from city council”

No charges for protestors at Bloomington farmers market, says Monroe County prosecutor

Five protesters who were arrested at Bloomington’s farmers market on Nov. 9 last year,  will not be prosecuted for their actions, according to a statement issued Wednesday morning by Monroe County’s prosecutor. They had been given summonses for criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.

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Flanked by two Bloomington police officers on Nov. 9, 2019, after his arrest at the farmers market for a protest against white supremacy, is Forrest Gilmore wearing a purple unicorn costume. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

The protest got national attention in part because of the inflatable purple unicorn costume worn by one of the protestors.

In the statement from the prosecutor’s office, Monroe County’s prosecutor, Erika Oliphant, is quoted saying, “My office has evaluated the specific facts and circumstances surrounding these citations, and we have decided that it is appropriate to decline prosecution in this instance.”

The specific facts of the situation included protest activity—holding signs and loud singing inside the market vendor area—directed at the Schooner Creek Farm stand. The owners of Schooner Creek were identified by local activists earlier in the year as having ties to a white supremacist group.

In late July last year, one protestor was arrested for similar activity—holding a sign near the Schooner Creek Farm stand. That protestor was also not prosecuted. Continue reading “No charges for protestors at Bloomington farmers market, says Monroe County prosecutor”