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”

Zoning for 750-bed student complex gets OK, after local lawmakers relent

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Proposed planned unit development (PUD) zoning for a 750-bed student housing project on North Walnut Street, at the site of the current Motel 6, is now approved after a special meeting of the Bloomington City council on Monday night.

Responding to a question from The Beacon after the meeting, St. Louis-based Collegiate Development Group’s Brandt Stiles said construction is planned to start in July 2020, and the first tenants are expected to be able to move in by August 2022.

The council had defeated the proposed PUD zoning 12 days earlier with a vote of 3-5-1. Those five votes against the project on the nine-member council were enough to reject it on Sept. 4, after the city’s plan commission had recommended it unanimously.

Of the five previous no votes on the city council, two changed to yes—Steve Volan and Isabel Piedmont-Smith’s. Changing his vote from abstention to a yes was Chris Sturbaum. So the PUD zoning was approved on a 5-3 tally. Possibly adding a sixth to the yes side would have been Allison Chopra, who voted for the PUD on Sept. 4. She was absent from Monday’s meeting.

Voting no were Dave Rollo, Dorothy Granger and Andy Ruff.

Achieving clarity in writing about various concessions offered by CDG, through “reasonable conditions,” proved to be persuasive enough to add the three yes votes.

Those conditions included: sliding the building to the west nearer Walnut Street; creating a plaza in place of parking in front of the building, with two pedestrian access points to the plaza; removal of one floor from the east building; 50 solar panels generating a total of 20kW; a 20,000 square-foot green roof; parking offered to tenants only on an a-la-carte basis; $300,000 worth of sidewalk improvements on Walnut, and from Walnut to Dunn on 19th Street; funding of a Bloomington Transit route five miles long (around $130,000 a year); and adding additional brick to the facade.

Also a part of the project is a donation to the city’s housing development fund of more than $2 million.

The three councilmembers in opposition to the project did not exploit a chance they had towards the beginning of the meeting to end the proceedings early, and let the council’s Sept. 4 vote stand. That’s because the motion to suspend the rules, in order to bring back the question, needed a two-thirds majority, which is six votes on the nine-member council.

Had all three voted against suspending the rules, the motion, in Chopra’s absence, would fallen short of the six votes it needed. If that vote had failed, the next motion would have been to adjourn.

During the meeting, Rollo said that as a councilmember he might have voted against suspending the rules, but as president of the council, he wanted to allow the council’s majority to prevail on the merits of the project, which he understood to be in favor. After the meeting, Ruff called the decision to treat as separate issues the motion to suspend the rules and the vote on the project itself the “right thing to do.”

Continue reading “Zoning for 750-bed student complex gets OK, after local lawmakers relent”

Collegiate Development Group’s modified student housing proposal rejected by Bloomington city council

Bloomington’s city council voted Wednesday night on proposed zoning for a student-oriented housing development at the site of the current Motel 6 on North Walnut Street. The outcome was 3–5–1.

That is, it got three votes in favor, five against, and one abstention from the nine-member council.

That tally defeated Collegiate Development Group’s proposal for planned unit development (PUD) zoning, to accommodate a 750-bed development at the site.

The bedroom count had been trimmed, from 820, in the week since the council’s land use committee met for a second time on the proposal. The committee’s vote on its recommendation to the full council was 0-1-3. The reduced number of bedrooms was a result of slicing the top floor off one of the buildings. Based on the formula used by CDG to calculate its contribution to the city’s housing development fund, the bedroom reduction dropped the amount from $2.46 million to $2.25 million.

Other changes in the last week included the addition of a 2,000 square foot green roof and 50 solar panels that could generate 20kW of power—for common areas and the 457-space parking structure that was a part of the development. Continue reading “Collegiate Development Group’s modified student housing proposal rejected by Bloomington city council”

Land use committee sends 820-bed student housing proposal to full council with zero votes of support

Last Wednesday (Aug. 28) the Bloomington city council’s four-member land use committee signaled its dissatisfaction with several aspects of a proposed 820-bed student-oriented housing development at the site of the current Motel 6 property on North Walnut.

Three members abstained from the vote (Allison Chopra, Steve Volan and Chris Sturbaum) and one voted outright no (Isabel Piedmont-Smith) on the committee’s recommendation.

The committee’s roll call left the proposal with no votes of support, as it heads to back to  the full council’s agenda. The full council will be considering the proposal as a second reading this Wednesday (Sept. 4).

Collegiate Development Group is requesting planned unit development zoning (PUD) for its site plan—that’s why it’s in front of the city council, even after receiving a recommendation of approval from the plan commission in mid-June. Zoning is enacted through ordinances, so PUDs have to go through the city council.

Part of the mix in the PUD proposal is a proposed donation to the city’s housing development fund of around $2.46 million, and the funding of an additional bus route in the Bloomington Transit fixed-route system.

Continue reading “Land use committee sends 820-bed student housing proposal to full council with zero votes of support”

Bloomington’s city council OKs electric bus appropriation, money for county fire protection

A special meeting of Bloomington’s city council on Wednesday wrapped up in about a half hour, as the council dispatched the two agenda items without controversy.

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Bloomington Transit’s general manager, Lew May, speaks to the council’s land use committee on Wednesday (Aug. 28) (Dave Askins/Beacon)

One item was to approve a $1.13 million appropriation in this year’s (2019) budget for the grants won by Bloomington Transit to pay for a battery electric bus and two smaller vehicles. The second item was to give the city council’s approval for the allocation of about $390,000 of countywide local income tax revenue to fire departments in the county.

The meeting was extended a couple minutes, because the Bloomington Transit appropriation ordinance had not been properly introduced for its second reading, before the council voted on it. The council wound up suspending its rules so that the item could be introduced, read aloud, and voted on a second time. That process required three additional votes—one voice voice and two roll calls. Continue reading “Bloomington’s city council OKs electric bus appropriation, money for county fire protection”

City council’s land use committee to discuss 820-bed student housing development

On Wednesday, Bloomington councilmembers will begin their deliberations on Collegiate Development Group’s proposed 820-bed planned unit development (PUD) on North Walnut at the site of the current Motel 6.

CDG location map iso Screen Shot 2019-07-29 at 11.01.38 AMAt 5:30 p.m. the project will be considered by the four-member land use committee: councilmembers Allison Chopra, Isabel Piedmont-Smith, Chris Sturbaum and Steve Volan.

The regular meeting on Wednesday is set to start at 7:30 p.m.—when the council could possibly make changes to parking regulations on Dunn Street and along 17th Street. So the plan is for the land use committee to wrap up by 7:15 p.m.

When the CDG project had its first reading on July 31, the council voted to refer it to the land use committee. The committee will make a recommendation to the council as a whole.

[Meeting agendas and information packets are available for download on Bloomington’s website. They’re live streamed on CATS.]
Continue reading “City council’s land use committee to discuss 820-bed student housing development”

City Council Preview July 31, 2019: Scooters, a PUD, not Dunn parking

When Bloomington’s common council meets on Wednesday in regular session for the first time since June 12, the city’s nine elected representatives will confront for the fifth time a package of legislation that regulates shared-use (and other) e-scooters.
R Map July 31 Agenda PreviewCityCounccilPreviewxxxx
Local scooter laws are likely to be the focus of detailed deliberations at the regular meeting, unlike the other two main topics on the agenda.

The council will get a first reading of a proposed zoning ordinance change to allow for construction of an 820-bedroom project at the site of the current Motel 6 on Walnut Street, across from Miller Showers Park. Based on a note in the packet of meeting materials, the first council deliberations on the project are not expected to take place until Aug. 7, at a committee meeting.

The council will also get a first reading of some changes to ordinances involving parking. Those ordinance changes are on the agenda for the committee of the whole, which will convene right after the regular session adjourns on Wednesday. One parking ordinance change would remove some, but not all, “no parking” restrictions on Dunn Street. The other ordinance involving parking involves loosening the membership requirements of the parking commission.

More on e-scooters, student housing and parking after the jump. [Meeting agendas and information packets are available for download on Bloomington’s website. Regular meetings start at 6:30 p.m. in city council chambers at city hall. They’re live streamed on CATS.]
Continue reading “City Council Preview July 31, 2019: Scooters, a PUD, not Dunn parking”

Math Journal: Converting percents to dollars for Housing Development Fund

On Wednesday (July 31, 2019) Bloomington’s city council will consider the first reading of a rezoning request from the Collegiate Development Group to build an 820-bedroom student housing project on North Walnut Street at the site of the current Motel 6.

CDG location map iso Screen Shot 2019-07-29 at 11.01.38 AMOne point likely to be raised is the amount of money CDG has committed to pay into the city’s Housing Development Fund, in connection with the proposed project. It’s a fund that was created by unanimous city council vote on Nov. 16, 2016.

The amount of CDG’s commitment to the Housing Development Fund is not expressed as a fixed dollar amount. The amount depends on a percentage of the number of bedrooms that are built.

Doesn’t CDG know already how bedrooms are in the project? It’s probably fair to say that CDG knows how many bedrooms it would like to build into the project, namely 820. But based on some early reaction from some councilmembers, at their July 19 work session, they might want to see the number of bedrooms reduced in order to approve the re-zoning. Continue reading “Math Journal: Converting percents to dollars for Housing Development Fund”

Plan commission OKs The Mill, 130 more apartment units to be added to Bloomington

Given site plan approval by Bloomington’s plan commission at its Monday meeting was The Mill, a five-building, 130-unit apartment complex in a development in the southwest part of town, near Summit Elementary. Construction is expected to start by August or September.

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Rendering of The Mill from  the July 8, 2019 meeting packet for Bloomington’s plan commission.

Completion of the project is targeted for August 2020, according to an email to The Beacon from Steve Brehob, who is president of Smith, Brehob & Associates, which is handling the site planning for The Ridge Group, a Muncie-based firm.

According to documents in the plan commission’s packet, each of the five buildings will include 26 units with a mix of studios, 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom apartments.
Continue reading “Plan commission OKs The Mill, 130 more apartment units to be added to Bloomington”