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 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.
It’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.
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.
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.
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.”
In the eminent domain case that the city of Bloomington is pursuing to acquire more land to build a replacement parking structure on 4th Street, the court issued two preliminary rulings on Tuesday.
One ruling extended the time for objections from landowner Juan Carlos Carrasquel, whose building at 222 S. Walnut is the focus of the city’s acquisition efforts. The original deadline for filing objections, 30 days after the city’s papers were submitted in mid-June, would have fallen on July 13, a Saturday. That made the effective deadline this Monday, July 15.
The court’s order, dated July 16, extended the deadline for objections to Aug. 12. That means a show cause hearing originally scheduled for next Monday (July 22) won’t be held that day.