With an overflow crowd in the council chambers balcony, the Bloomington Plan Commission held its first public hearing on the city's Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) adoption draft on Monday, Aug. 26.
During the public commentary part of the meeting, 37 people gave input on the UDO draft. Almost all speakers addressed issues related to housing, evenly split in support of higher density or opposed to denser housing options in single-family neighborhoods.
(The final speaker asked that goats be removed from the UDO's definition of "medium livestock," which now also includes burros, sheep and swine. She suggested several changes to better accommodate keeping goats within city limits.)
Mary Morgan, the Chamber's Director of Advocacy & Public Policy, spoke in support of changes that encourage building more housing for all income levels. "As local businesses attempt to recruit and retain staff, one common challenge is a lack of housing that's affordable for their workforce. We also need to provide more housing options for the younger generation, people in their 20s and 30s who are starting to put down roots here. This UDO helps achieve that goal."
She also advocated for a more transparent process related to the proposed payment-in-lieu option for affordable housing. Read Mary's full remarks here.
At their next hearing on Thursday, Aug. 29, Plan Commissioners will be asking staff to draft amendments based on feedback from the public. Those amendments will then be considered at their Sept. 5 meeting. The public can weigh in at both of those meetings, or can submit additional comments by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch the Aug. 26 meeting on CATS here. Get more info on the UDO process here.
The Bloomington Police Department is planning to open a crisis diversion center as a way to decrease crime in the city, according to police chief Mike Diekhoff.
Diekhoff described the effort during an Aug. 20 budget hearing before Bloomington City Council.
In his presentation, Diekhoff indicated that one of BPD's goals is to establish an "evidence-based, police-led diversion program to assist in rehabilitation or services as a preference over incarceration for non-violent offenders."
Diekhoff said discussions in the past several months have focused on where to house such a program. He estimated the center would cost about $700,000 to operate annually. He said the city has held discussions with Monroe County and private businesses on this project, and has applied for grants to help support it financially. After a location is established, he said, "then we can move forward with actually doing pre-arrest diversion work."
Councilmember Isabel Piedmont-Smith (District 5) expressed support for the center. "I think this is a very smart innovation that has worked well in other communities to keep people whose issues are really not with the law but with mental health, with addictions – to keep those out of our jail and to get them the help they need."
Click here to view their discussion on CATS. Click here to view slides from the chief's presentation.
Monroe County government is currently undertaking a study of its criminal justice system. A diversion center is being considered for that effort.
Brian Payne, assistant director of economic and sustainable development for the City of Bloomington, will be the founding executive director of CDFI Friendly Bloomington, a new nonprofit focused on local community development. He'll begin the job on Sept. 3.
CDFI Friendly Bloomington, a 501(c)(3), is a community development financial institution formed in 2018. Its purpose is to provide investments for projects that don't qualify for conventional financing, as a way to catalyze small business growth, expand affordable housing and support community facilities in Bloomington and Monroe County.
Four local and regional banks – First Financial Bank, Old National Bank, German American Bank, and Woodforest National Bank – committed a total of $2 million in senior debt financing to CDFI Friendly Bloomington. In addition, the Bloomington Urban Enterprise Association (BUEA) and the Bloomington Redevelopment Commission each made $1 million capital grant commitments.
In his role at the city, Brian has also served as BUEA's director.
Alex Crowley, the city's director of economic and sustainable development, announced Brian's departure at BUEA's Aug. 14 meeting. He noted that in addition to this job transition, Brian recently moved to a new home and celebrated the birth of his daughter, Morrow – named after the county in Ohio where Brian and his wife met while campaigning for Barack Obama. Alex joked that these three major life events are "the trifecta of stress inducement."
The city will be searching for a replacement, but that job has not yet been posted on the city's employment portal.
CDFI Friendly Bloomington's board of directors includes:
Click here for more information about CDFI Friendly Bloomington. Read a white paper on this project here.
Mayor John Hamilton and Cortland Carrington III, owner of American Mushroom & Spice Co., were interviewed by Chamber CEO Erin Predmore for the Chamber's 3 Things podcast, sharing their thoughts about the Bloomington Community Farmers Market.
The mayor talked with Erin about steps the city is taking to make the market more secure in the wake of increasing threats to public safety. Those threats came from escalating tensions between supporters of white nationalists and the owners of the Schooner Creek Farm, and counter-protesters who have been advocating for the removal of Schooner Creek Farm for their ties to white supremacist groups. This tension prompted the city to suspend the farmers market for the first two Saturdays in August.
On Tuesday, Aug. 13, Mayor Hamilton announced plans to reopen the market with additional security measures in place. Read his statement here.
Cortland Carrington described his experiences as a vendor and member of the city's Farmers Market Advisory Council. He talked about the impact of this situation on his business, what he's seen at the market in recent months, and reactions from other vendors to this controversy.
Click here to listen to 3 Things on Apple Podcasts – or subscribe to 3 Things on your favorite podcast service.
Have an idea for a future 3 Things topic or guest? Contact Erin at email@example.com.
On Oct. 9-10 we'll be converging in our nation's capital for some face time with our federal legislators – and you can come along!
Organized by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the D.C. Fly-In includes a legislative briefing, a keynote breakfast with Craig Moringiello of the FBI, and office visits with legislators.
The headquarter hotel is the Hyatt Regency Washington Capitol Hill. Click here to book your room. Attendees are responsible for their own travel plans.
Interested? Contact Mary Morgan, the Chamber's Director of Advocacy and Public Policy, for more info.
Learn about the operations of the Bloomington Police Department and our community's criminal justice system by participating in the Bloomington Citizens Police Academy.
Sessions will be held on Tuesday evenings from 6-8:30 p.m. starting on Sept. 10 through Nov. 19. Topics include patrol techniques, domestic violence, driving while intoxicated, criminal investigations, drug enforcement, firearms training and more. The academy also includes the opportunity to do a ride-along with a patrol officer.
You must be at least 18 years old to participate, and background checks will be conducted on all applicants.
Applications are due by Friday, Aug. 30. Click here to apply.
The City of Bloomington has scheduled next steps in its efforts to overhaul the citywide zoning code.
The latest draft of the Unified Development Ordinance will be posted on the city's UDO website on Monday, Aug. 5. On that same date and site, an online comment form will be available for public input. [UPDATE: Here's a link to the new UDO draft.]
The city's Plan Commission will hold three hearings on the latest draft in the city hall council chambers, 401 N. Morton. Those hearing dates are:
The Plan Commission can amend the UDO and will vote to approve a final draft after this latest round of public input. Then, the Bloomington Common Council will have 90 days in which to vote on the UDO. The council will also provide opportunities for input.
After the UDO is adopted, the new zoning will apply to new developments or additions to existing structures.
Click here for the latest updates on the UDO.
The process of overhauling the UDO began in February 2018. The Chamber has provided input throughout the process. Our most recent comments focused on ensuring that the procedures specified in the UDO are consistent and standardized.
The Dimension Mill has released its 2019 Annual Report, with highlights of membership, programs and events. This is The Mill's first report since opening in November 2018.
Click here to read The Mill's annual report.
The Mill is a co-working space and business incubator located at 642 N. Madison in the city's Trades District. It operates as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, funded initially by the City of Bloomington and the Bloomington Redevelopment Commission. Erin Predmore, the Chamber's CEO, serves on The Mill's board and 5-member executive committee.
One of the newest members of The Mill is Cy Megnin, the entrepreneur-in-residence for Velocities, a partnership between Elevate Ventures, The Mill and the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce.
Cy, who grew up in Bloomington, will be working to support other entrepreneurs in the Bloomington/Columbus region. Most recently he has funded and led several companies in Austin, Texas, including CloudCoreo (acquired by VMware), PrepFlash, and OCPS, a real estate investment firm that focused on environmentally conscious building practices.
You can meet Cy in person on Monday, Aug. 12, at a meet-and-greet from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at The Mill. Appetizers and drinks will be served, and Cy will lead an interactive "fireside chat" from 6-6:45 p.m. Click here to register. You can also find Cy on Twitter at @CyMegnin.
Interested in learning more about The Mill? On the third Thursday of each month, you can try out the co-working space for free. The day includes a networking lunch called COLLIDE. Click here for more info.
But wait – there's more! Keep in the loop by signing up for The Mill's newsletter here. And check out the Chamber's recent 3 Things podcast for an interview with Pat East, The Mill's executive director, and graphic designer Jennie Moser, owner and founder of Jennie Moser Design, about entrepreneurship in Bloomington and the role that The Mill plays in providing an attractive space for freelancers and small business owners to work and network.