On December 20 last year, a Monroe County circuit court judge ruled that Bloomington could not use eminent domain to take the JuanSells.com building (222 Hats) in order to build a replacement garage on a larger footprint. The building is just south of the site where the 352-space 4th Street parking garage once stood.
The ruling hinged on the fact that the proposed design of the replacement garage would include non-residential commercial space on its ground floor, disqualifying it from the public purpose that such a taking is supposed to serve.
Harvey found that “the retail use of the proposed Project, which cannot be separated from the public aspect, prohibits the taking of the 222 Hats Real Estate.”
On Thursday morning, oral arguments will be heard by Indiana’s Supreme Court in the case involving Bloomington’s constitutional challenge to a 2017 law that suspended its in-progress annexation process.
Bloomington won a favorable ruling on both of its constitutional arguments in the lower court. Briefly put, the court agreed with Bloomington that the law was impermissible special legislation and that it violated the single-subject rule.
It’s Gov. Eric Holcomb, the defendant in the case, who has appealed to the state’s highest court.
People who want to watch the city argue the case in front of the state’s highest court can watch the online video stream on Thursday, Jan. 9, starting at 8:58 a.m. That’s two minutes before the five justices are scheduled to hear arguments.
On Wednesday, Bloomington’s city council kicks off 2020 with its first meeting of the year, when it handles organizational matters like the election of new officers.
Some other non-organizational action items also appear on Wednesday’s agenda, among them a $350K interlocal agreement between Bloomington, Ellettsville and Monroe County on splitting costs for Bloomington’s animal shelter. It’s a routine agreement that’s been ratified for several years based on an agreed-upon formula that assigns costs on a per-animal basis.
Another routine interlocal agreement, under which Monroe County administers the building code for the city and the county, also appears on Wednesday’s agenda. It dates back to 1996 and has been extended at regular intervals for the last quarter century.
At a work session held on Friday, Bloomington city councilmember Steve Volan introduced a proposal he’s put on the agenda for the council’s first meeting of the year, on Wednesday, Jan. 8.
Volan’s resolution would use existing city code to establish several four-member standing committees, adding to the already-existing land use committee. The land use committee is the subset of councilmembers to which planned unit developments (PUDs) have been referred for the last couple years, after getting a first reading in front of the council.
The half percent increase would bring the total income tax levy to 1.845 percent from the current total of 1.345 percent. It’s estimated to generate about $8 million for allocation by Bloomington’s city government and another $8 million for Monroe County government officials.
Bloomington’s city council attendance at roll call votes 2018–2019.
Plot of Bloomington city council votes for 2018 and 2019.
Analyzing the raw statistics of roll call votes for Bloomington’s city council show that most of the time, the nine elected members of the local legislative branch are in agreement. It’s not a surprising result, given that they are all affiliated with the same party. They’re all Democrats.
A closer look at voting patterns might at first suggest that two departing councilmembers, Chris Sturbaum and Allison Chopra, could be outside the council’s mainstream of political thought, and separate from each other.
Christmas morning dawned bright over the now empty lot at 4th and Walnut streets where a parking garage once stood. It offered 352 spaces for people to park their cars, then go to work, shop, or take care of errands in the downtown area.
The demolition started in earnest in late September and was done by early November.
After last Friday’s court ruling, the now smoothed-over dirt lot will probably remain empty for at least a few more months.