Circuit court trial on demolition permit could come before mid-March BZA hearing on $83.5K fine

Now expected to appear on the March 19 agenda of Bloomington’s board of zoning appeals (BZA) meeting is an objection to the city’s decision last fall to impose an $83,500 fine on the owners of a West 7th Street house.

The owners demolished the house without a required certificate of zoning compliance (CZC).

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View of 523 West 7th St. facing south on Jan. 21, 2020. A house stood there until late September 2019.

The house had previously been reviewed by the city’s historic preservation commission for historic designation.

The BZA hearing was originally set for last November, but it has been put off a couple of times due to scheduling conflicts.

In the last week of February, a related lawsuit filed by the owners against city and county officials saw a light flurry of filings in the Monroe County circuit court. The lawsuit seeks a mandate from the court ordering the city’s planning and transportation director, Terri Porter, to issue the required CZC.

The question now is whether a ruling on the court case will come before or after the BZA hearing.

Just how connected are the court case and the BZA hearing? Continue reading “Circuit court trial on demolition permit could come before mid-March BZA hearing on $83.5K fine”

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”

Bloomington plan commission punts parking garage site plan to December

Bloomington’s plan commission voted at its regular meeting on Monday night to put off until December its consideration of the city’s proposed replacement parking garage at 4th and Walnut Streets

The site plan appeared on the agenda but was not indicated as continued, as it had been from August to September,  from September to October, and from October to November.

The short-handed plan commission voted Monday 5–0 for the continuance. That’s the minimum the nine-member commission needs for a quorum or for an affirmative vote. The site plan might be heard at the plan commission’s Dec. 9 meeting.

The reason for the repeated continuance on the site plan stems from the fact that the city does not own part of the land—the south end of the block between 4th and 3rd streets—on which the replacement garage is supposed to be built.

The site plan submitted by the city is for a six-story garage with 510 parking spaces and roughly 11,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor. The footprint would extend for 4th Street to the south end of the block at 3rd Street. Continue reading “Bloomington plan commission punts parking garage site plan to December”

Historic house teardown technicalities could add fuel to upcoming UDO debate

The demolition late last week of the house at 523 W. 7th Street was initially analyzed as a flagrant flouting of Bloomington’s due process  for assigning historic designation to a property. That’s because the city’s historic preservation commission passed a resolution on Aug 8, recommending to the city council that it vote to designate the house as a separate historic district.

Conor Herterich, the city’s historic preservation program manager, told The Beacon on Monday that the demolition violated the property’s interim protection against demolition—a protection provided by the commission’s resolution.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, however, it appears that the commission’s resolution, initially believed by city officials to have given the house interim protection, was not worded so that the intended protection was given. The meeting minutes from the Aug. 8 meeting say: “…the HPC recommends its historic designation under Title 8 of the BMC to the Common Council with the attached map.” There doesn’t appear to have been any explicit mention of “interim protection.”

Based on information from a source with the city, there’s been an preliminary conclusion by city staff that the property owners did not flout any interim protection, because the wording of the resolution didn’t explicitly mention “interim protection.” According to the source, there’s a second technicality that’s apparently in favor of the property owner, David Holdman. The second technical glitch is the city’s possible failure to give Holdman proper notice of the HPC’s finding and recommendation. Continue reading “Historic house teardown technicalities could add fuel to upcoming UDO debate”

Photo: Demolition of 4th Street parking garage starts in earnest

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Demolition of the 4th Street parking garage in downtown Bloomington started in earnest on Thursday morning. Streets have been blocked off since early September of the work. The city issued a press release earlier this week with some details of the work that has gone on mostly out of view, alerting members of the public that the garage would soon start crumblin, tumbling down. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

4th Street parking structure site plan review pushed to October

The Bloomington plan commission’s already-started review of the city’s 4th Street parking garage site plan proposal has been given another continuance, according to the planning department’s development services manager, Jackie Scanlan.

Calendar Screen Shot 2019-08-29 at 2.21.30 AMIt’s the second continuance approved by the department under Article VIII (B) of the plan commission’s rules and procedures. The first one bumped the review from the August to the September meeting.

This time, the delay is from Sept. 9 to Oct. 7.

The plan commission considered the site plan at its July meeting. Commissioners took a 3–4 vote to continue the matter, but no commissioner made a motion to recommend approval. So the commission was left without having passed a motion. That meant it was continued by default to August. Continue reading “4th Street parking structure site plan review pushed to October”

Sept. 3 start for $1.48M demolition of Bloomington’s 4th Street parking garage

At Monday evening’s meeting of Bloomington’s Redevelopment Commission, a guaranteed maximum for the demolition of the city’s 4th Street garage was approved: $1,482,393.

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Dan Fetz, with F.A. Wilhelm Construction, the construction manager for Bloomington’s 4th Street replacement garage, opens bids for the demolition  of the existing garage July 9, 2019 (Dave Askins/Beacon)

The timeline for demolition was also laid out, which includes a start date of Sept. 3, the day after the Labor Day holiday. The week before, starting Aug. 29, downtown visitors will see lane closures on Walnut and Fourth streets, to prepare for the demolition.

The roughly $1.48 million guaranteed maximum for the demolition is the figure that the city staff negotiated with the construction manager for the project, which is F.A. Wilhelm Construction. The amount is based on a low bid from Denney Excavating out of Plainfield.

Wilhelm received bids from three companies, which were opened on July 9. Base bids at the opening were read as follows: Renascent, Inc. ($1,267,000); Denney Excavating ($810,000); and O’Rourke Wrecking Company ($1,037,000).

Those amounts were all adjusted upward after the scope of the demolition project was adjusted. Denney’s base bid, with the scope adjustment, was accepted at $1,025,400. Continue reading “Sept. 3 start for $1.48M demolition of Bloomington’s 4th Street parking garage”