4th Street parking garage may be off plan commission agenda for 3 months

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The JuanSells.com building at 222 S. Walnut next to the empty lot where the 4th Street parking garage stood, as it appeared on Dec. 2, 2019. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

Every month starting in August, Bloomington’s plan commission followed a pattern. The commission continued to the following month’s meeting one of its agenda items—the city’s proposed site plan for a replacement garage at Fourth and Walnut streets.

Demolition of the old structure, with its 352 parking spaces, started in September and is now complete.

Sometimes the continuances were done administratively. But in November, commissioners took a unanimous vote on the continuance.

On Monday, at December’s regular meeting, the pattern was interrupted. The city withdrew the petition. Continue reading “4th Street parking garage may be off plan commission agenda for 3 months”

Convention center expansion deal between Bloomington and Monroe County looks possible by year’s end

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City councilmember Steve Volan (center), is flanked by deputy mayor Mick Renneisen and county commissioner Julie Thomas at Friday’s meeting about the convention center expansion. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

Last Friday, city and county officials met for two hours about the convention center expansion. It was the latest in of a flurry of recent efforts to bridge longstanding disagreements on governance of the project. What entity will have control, direction and eventual ownership of the project—a capital improvement board or a 501(c)(3) non-profit? Continue reading “Convention center expansion deal between Bloomington and Monroe County looks possible by year’s end”

Decision on Bloomington farmers market future to be made in January: “The First Amendment has not changed since July.”

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City council chambers were packed on Saturday afternoon for a panel discussion on the future of Bloomington’s farmers market. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

A decision about if and how Bloomington’s farmers market will operate next year won’t come until Jan. 9. That announcement was made by Mary Catherine Carmichael, director of public engagement for the city of Bloomington, to a crowd that packed city council chambers on Saturday afternoon. Continue reading “Decision on Bloomington farmers market future to be made in January: “The First Amendment has not changed since July.””

UDO Update: Last proposed amendments to updated zoning include increased height for R4, timeline for payment-in-lieu procedures

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Illustration of building forms for the new R4 (residential urban) zoning district in the update of Bloomington’s unified development ordinance.

This Tuesday’s special session of Bloomington’s city council could wrap up the last of 69 numbered amendments to be considered to the update of the city’s unified development ordinance (UDO).

The council started considering UDO amendments in mid-November, during special sessions dedicated just to such amendments. Continue reading “UDO Update: Last proposed amendments to updated zoning include increased height for R4, timeline for payment-in-lieu procedures”

Opinion: Convention center expansion should be designed from ground up as Net Zero facility

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“Climate Action Now” banner hung at city hall on Dec. 6, 2019. A meeting between county and city officials about the convention center expansion was taking place at the same time at the climate strike sit-in. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

On Wednesday, Bloomington’s city council is set to approve an appropriation ordinance for around $6 million of food and beverage tax money. It’s for an architect to design the expansion of the convention center at College Avenue and 3rd Street. Continue reading “Opinion: Convention center expansion should be designed from ground up as Net Zero facility”

Monroe county election board looks ahead to 2020 after imposing one fine, waiving two others, finding no violation of electioneering law

Members of Monroe County’s election board met Thursday afternoon to review some logistical issues related to elections in 2020 and to wrap up some loose ends from this year’s municipal elections in Bloomington. Continue reading “Monroe county election board looks ahead to 2020 after imposing one fine, waiving two others, finding no violation of electioneering law”

UDO Update: Height limit for residential single-family stays 40 feet, multi-family use still permitted in multi-family zones, parking maxes same

Bloomington’s city council dispatched with 20 more amendments to the updated unified development ordinance (UDO) on Tuesday night. That brought the total to almost 60 since the council started convening some sessions in mid-November dedicated only to UDO amendments. Continue reading “UDO Update: Height limit for residential single-family stays 40 feet, multi-family use still permitted in multi-family zones, parking maxes same”

Union head on police contract OK’d by city council: “I would be remiss if I told you the members were happy about it.”

Bloomington police officers now have a contract with the city for the next three years, through the end of 2020. The four-year deal, approved by the city council on Wednesday night, stretches back to the beginning of 2019, when the current contract expired.

Officers have been working this year under an “evergreen” clause of the old contract.

The 2-percent raise for this year was not applied retroactively, though it feeds into the schedule of raises each year for the next three years, which range from 2.65 to 2.9 percent.

Instead of applying the raise retroactively, which according to city staff would have been administratively too complex, officers received a $1,000 bonus. The bonus is about $60 less than 2 percent of the base salary for an officer, which was $52,916 in 2018.

Paul Post, who’s president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Don Owens Memorial Lodge 88, told the city council that the main point of contention—about which the union members were not happy—was a move away from seniority as the sole factor in determining shift assignments.

The council approved the contract and the salary ordinance as separate items. The votes were unanimous. Continue reading “Union head on police contract OK’d by city council: “I would be remiss if I told you the members were happy about it.””

Monroe County commissioners want convention center deal done sooner than end of year, Bloomington city council OKs revised food and beverage tax request

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Monroe County commissioners at their Dec. 4, 2019 meeting. From left: Lee Jones, Julie Thomas, Penny Githens. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

Some increased pressure on Monroe County’s board of commissioners and Bloomington’s mayor generated some activity on Wednesday, if not progress, on the question of the stalled convention center expansion project.

In a week, it likely will be easier to tell how much of the activity counts as progress.

Late last week, Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, and county elected officials started an extra push for a speedier resolution to the disagreements between the city and the county that have stalled the project since late May.

Part of Hamilton’s push included relenting on the question of equal representation for governance of the expansion project. Hamilton committed in writing to equal appointments by the city and county.

Hamilton’s effort can be analyzed as at least two-pronged.

Continue reading “Monroe County commissioners want convention center deal done sooner than end of year, Bloomington city council OKs revised food and beverage tax request”

New four-year Bloomington police contract could get one-step approval by city council next week

Negotiations between Bloomington and its police union, which have lasted the better part of two years, concluded in mid-November with ratification by the union of a new four-year contract.

The contract runs through 2022. The agreement and its corresponding salary ordinance appear on the city council’s meeting agenda next week for Wednesday, Dec. 4. The new agreement includes raises each year between 2 and 2.9 percent. Continue reading “New four-year Bloomington police contract could get one-step approval by city council next week”