Wisler leads short-handed plan commission in review of Moores Pike PUD, other projects

At Monday’s meeting of the Bloomington plan commission, a planned unit development (PUD) for 2.2 acres of land on Moores Pike, with 80 apartments in one 50-foot, four-story building, was forwarded to the city council with a negative recommendation.

In other business, which did not get final action from the commission, a proposed “mini-warehouse” facility on West 3rd Street across the road from Culver’s Restaurant, was continued to the plan commission’s November meeting.

A mixed use PUD proposed for the northwest corner of E. Longview Avenue and S. Pete Ellis Drive, with 19,000 square feet of commercial space, 264 apartments and a 306-space parking deck, was approved for its second of two required hearings, to be held in front of the plan commission next month.

After the departure of Joe Hoffmann last month, the plan commission’s first order of business at its Monday meeting was to elect a new president. Brad Wisler, as vice president, was an unsurprising choice. But due to the commission’s diminished numbers  it required a unanimous vote—which it got—of the other five commissioners present. Nick Kappas was nominated and approved as vice president by the same 5-0 tally. (Nominees did not participate in those votes.) Continue reading “Wisler leads short-handed plan commission in review of Moores Pike PUD, other projects”

Children to Bloomington’s city forester for the last 37 years: “Thank you for speaking for the trees!”

A couple of weeks ago at their regular meeting, members of the city’s board of park commissioners recognized Lee Huss for his 37 years of service to the city of Bloomington as urban forester. Two days before his final day of work at the city, the city council reprised the same sentiments.

On Wednesday night, council president Dave Rollo read aloud an encomium for Huss that quoted the former mayor of Bloomington who hired him, Tomilea Allison: “Few civil servants have left such a visible imprint on our city, and for that, Lee has our heartfelt gratitude.” Huss’s imprint includes increasing the number of street streets from under 8,000 to over 19,000 in the latest tree inventory.

Huss’s work in the last 11 years has included managing the city’s ash trees, which were at risk of total loss due to the emerald ash borer. He helped Bloomington achieve Tree City USA status—making it the first community in Indiana to reach that goal.

Huss took the podium to deliver a couple of comments, leading off with, “Thirty-seven years is not long in the life of a tree.” Huss thanked his co-workers over the years and Mayor Allison, who gave him a job at the city. He was grateful for the chance to help give Bloomington “the urban forest that this community deserves,” Hess said. He also recognized the community’s enthusiasm for trees, saying, “It’s been a tree loving community long before Lee Huss showed up. … It’s going to always be a tree loving community.”

Susan Coleman spoke on behalf of her father, tree commissioner Tom Coleman, thanking Huss for his service. Susan Coleman also presented Huss with a poster-sized card that read “Thank you for speaking for the trees!” It was made by the first- and second-graders at the Project School, who had participated in an after-school activity led by teacher Cindy Simpson.

They’d used species identification guides to identify trees in the Waldron Hill Buskirk Park, Coleman said. She presented Huss with a copy of “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss, signed by the children. (The book is the source of the message on the children’s card: “I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.”

The Beacon’s hard-hitting question for Hess was: If you could be a tree, what kind of tree would you be? He responded with good humor. An oak, he said, because they are long-lived, and provide the most ecological services to other organisms. Asked to be more specific, he named the white oak, “Just because, I like bourbon, too—it’s used for whisky barrels.”

Press release: Bloomington proposes 3-percent sewer rate increase inside city, 15-percent outside

In a press release issued Monday afternoon (Aug. 26), City of Bloomington Utilities announced it is requesting a rate increase for sewer customers. According to the press release, the 3-percent proposed rate increase for a customer inside the city works out to 72 cents more per month. For an average customer outside the city the 15-percent increase works out to $3.60 more per month. Continue reading “Press release: Bloomington proposes 3-percent sewer rate increase inside city, 15-percent outside”

4th Street parking garage site plan review delayed a month

The Bloomington plan commission’s already-started review of the city’s 4th Street parking garage site plan proposal won’t resume until Sept. 9.

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The Monday, Aug. 12, meeting packet, which was posted on the city’s website Friday afternoon, includes the parking garage site plan under the heading: “Petitions Continued To: September 19, 2019”

Based on the outcome of deliberations at the July 8 meeting of the plan commission, discussion of the 4th Street parking garage was expected to be continued at the Monday, Aug. 12 meeting, with a possible vote on the question.

Why is the site plan review being continued an additional month? And how can a continuance to September happen without the plan commission voting to continue the issue to September?

The answers to both those questions were provided by city planner Jackie Scanlan in response to an emailed question from The Beacon.

She wrote: “Per our Rules and Procedures, Article VIII (B), petition continuances can be approved by [planning and transportation] if the requests are made more than a week before the hearing. That is what occurred in this case. The petitioner (City) requested continuance in response to the desire of some Plan Commissioners to wait until the eminent domain process is further settled.” Continue reading “4th Street parking garage site plan review delayed a month”