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”

Objection filed to Bloomington’s request to try again in effort to take 222 Hats building for parking garage

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Last Friday, attorneys for Juan Carlos Carrasquel, owner of the JuanSells.com building, filed an objection to Bloomington’s effort to have another try at acquiring the building from Carrasquel against the landowner’s wishes. Continue reading “Objection filed to Bloomington’s request to try again in effort to take 222 Hats building for parking garage”

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”

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”

Final papers filed in 4th Street parking garage eminent domain case, wait on ruling begins

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On Saturday (Oct. 26) morning, heavy rain in Bloomington left a puddle in the north lane of 3rd Street at the corner of Walnut and 3rd. In the foreground is the JuanSells.com building that’s the target of Bloomington’s eminent domain action. In the background is the partially demolished 4th Street parking garage. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

On Friday, the deadline set by the judge in Bloomington’s pending eminent domain case was met by both sides in the case, as both Bloomington and 222 Hats LLC filed their proposed orders by the end of the day.

Bloomington wants to buy the property at the south end of the block between 4th and 3rd streets along Walnut, so that the replacement parking structure can have a footprint that extends the length of the block. Owner Juan Carlos Carrasquel does not want to sell. The offer made, before Bloomington started the eminent domain legal proceedings, was $587,500.

Bloomington wants the court to order that “The Plaintiff, City of Bloomington, shall be and is hereby entitled by law to condemn the real estate located at 222 S. Walnut Street.”

Juan Carlos Carrasquel, owner of the property where he operates JuanSells.com, wants the court to order that “The Objections to Plaintiff’s [Bloomington’s] Complaint for Appropriation of Real Estate, filed by Defendant, 222 Hats, LLC, are SUSTAINED, and Plaintiff’s [Bloomington’s] Complaint is hereby DISMISSED.” Continue reading “Final papers filed in 4th Street parking garage eminent domain case, wait on ruling begins”

4th Street parking lawsuit: Landowner files response, both sides now face Friday deadline for proposed ruling

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The 4th Street parking garage is on its way to complete demolition. This photo was taken Monday, Oct. 21. Whether the 222 S. Walnut building that houses JuanSells.com eventually joins the pile of rubble will be up to  the court after proposed orders are filed by the two sides by this Friday, Oct. 25. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

The Bloomington city council’s insistence on the inclusion of ground floor commercial space in the proposed replacement for the 4th Street parking garage is a factor in one of the arguments a landowner is making, in an attempt to ward off the city’s attempt to take some real estate through eminent domain action.

A response brief from attorneys for landowner Juan Carlos Carrasquel was filed by last Friday, the deadline set by the judge after oral arguments were heard on Oct. 7.

The central legal argument in the case is whether the inclusion of ground-floor commercial space disqualifies the parking garage project as a public use.

The Oct. 18 brief reprises arguments made at the Oct. 7 hearing, but brings into clearer focus how the city council’s insistence on the commercial space fits into those arguments.

The landowner was given until Friday to file a response to a memorandum the city had filed before the Oct. 7 hearing. The next milestone is the case will be this Friday, Oct. 25, when both sides are due to submit their proposed orders to the court. Continue reading “4th Street parking lawsuit: Landowner files response, both sides now face Friday deadline for proposed ruling”

Arguments heard in court on Bloomington’s attempt to take land to replace 4th Street parking garage

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Looking north on Walnut Street at the intersection of 3rd Street on Oct. 6, 2019. The gray building with the purple sign in the left of the frame is the JuanSells.com building that Bloomington is trying to acquire through eminent domain action. The partially demolished building to its north is the 4th Street parking garage. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

Around two hours worth of arguments and testimony were heard Monday morning at a show cause hearing about Bloomington’s eminent domain action on the JuanSells.com property. It’s just south of the now already partially demolished 4th Street parking garage.

Bloomington wants the owner, Juan Carlos Carrasquel, to sell his building so that the footprint of a planned replacement parking garage can extend the full block from 4th Street down to 3rd Street. Drawn out during Monday morning’s testimony was the city’s offer to  Carrasquel of $587,500 for the building. He purchased the building for $500,000 in spring of 2018.

The central legal issue in the case is whether the planned ground-floor retail space in the garage disqualifies it from the public purpose that a taking through eminent domain requires.

No bench ruling was made by judge Holly Harvey when the hearing concluded in Monroe’s circuit court at the Charlotte Zietlow Justice Center in downtown Bloomington.

Harvey did set a couple of deadlines. The first one is Oct. 18, for Carrasquel’s attorneys to file a reply to the memo filed last Friday by the city’s legal team. The deadline for the two sides to file a proposed set of findings and an order is Oct. 25.

Those deadlines mean a ruling might not come before Nov. 4, when the city’s plan commission is next scheduled to consider the proposed site plan for the replacement garage. The plan commission’s agenda for Monday, Oct. 7 shows the site plan as continued until Nov. 4. If there’s not a ruling by then, in the city’s favor, consideration of the site plan can be expected to be continued another month.

The site plan, which was initially heard by the city planning commission at its July 8 meeting, includes a six-story structure, with 511 parking spaces and roughly 11,800 square feet of non-garage space on the ground floor. Continue reading “Arguments heard in court on Bloomington’s attempt to take land to replace 4th Street parking garage”

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”

Show cause hearing date set in Bloomington eminent domain case: Sept. 12 (Updated: Change of date likely)

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Shown is an aerial view of the 4th Street parking structure looking east.  From the Monroe County GIS system’s Pictometry tool, vintage 2017.

Sept. 12 is the date now set for the show cause hearing in Bloomington’s current eminent domain litigation. The case involves the City of Bloomington’s attempt to take the 222 Hats building at the south end of the block between 3rd and 4th streets along Walnut Street, so it can add the land to the footprint of a replacement parking structure.

The re-scheduled hearing is scheduled to take place in front of Judge Holly Harvey at 10 a.m. on Sept. 12 in the Charlotte Zietlow Justice Center at 301 N. College Avenue. [Update: City of Bloomington’s legal department told the Beacon Thursday that conflicts on both sides have led to an effort to reschedule that hearing. It will most likely be scheduled for a later, not earlier date.]

The order issued by Harvey sets a half hour as the timeframe. The parties are ordered to appear in court “…allowing 30 minutes, to show cause, if any, they have why the property sought to be acquired in the Complaint should not be acquired.”

Legal skirmishing led to cancellation of a show cause hearing initially scheduled for July 22.

The replacement parking structure site plan that has been developed by the City of Bloomington is for a six-story garage with 510 parking spaces and roughly 11,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor.
Continue reading “Show cause hearing date set in Bloomington eminent domain case: Sept. 12 (Updated: Change of date likely)”

Amended objections now filed in Bloomington’s effort to take 222 Hats property to build replacement parking garage

On Friday, Aug. 16, the landowner filed an amended version of objections with the Monroe Circuit Court, in an attempt to prevent the City of Bloomington from acquiring the 222 Hats property at the south end of the block of Walnut Street between 4th and 3rd streets.

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Image from the Monroe County GIS system, Pictometry tool. Vintage is 2017.

The City of Bloomington wants to take the  property through an eminent domain process so that it can extend the footprint of its planned replacement parking structure to cover the full length of the block from 4th to 3rd streets.

A month earlier, an initial version of the objections was filed, because it was not clear at the time if the court was going to grant a motion for an extension of the deadline. The court did grant the extension.

A review by The Beacon of both documents revealed a few differences between the first and second versions. A new paragraph was added on the topic of the definition of “public use.” The concept of “public use” is key, because property taken through eminent domain is supposed to be for a public use. The first objection filed by the landowner argues that the taking would not be for a public use, because of the ground floor retail space that is planned for the replacement parking garage.

Another  amendment to the document was stylistic—one sentence was edited to conform with Mark Twain’s legendary advice, “If you see an adverb, kill it.”

None of the changes altered of the number or kind of objections that were already filed. Continue reading “Amended objections now filed in Bloomington’s effort to take 222 Hats property to build replacement parking garage”