Bloomington Transit has set dates for a series of public sessions to get feedback and provide information on proposed route changes. The effort is part of BT's Route Optimization Study, which began in 2018.
See the chart below for details on times and locations. More information about the proposed changes are available on BT's website.
BT is also looking for feedback via its Bloomington Community Rider Survey. Click here to take the survey.
As we look to 2020, the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce is seeking input on issues that take priority for our members, local businesses and others throughout our community. Results from this 2019 Public Policy and Legislative Survey will help guide our legislative priorities and shape our advocacy in the coming year.
Please click the button below to weigh in – and thanks for your feedback!
After more than a year of work, the draft Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) is moving into the final phase before becoming the City of Bloomington's official zoning code.
At a Sept. 23 special session, the Bloomington Plan Commission voted unanimously to recommend adoption of the UDO as amended. The staff has 10 days in which to certify that action. At that point, the City Council has 90 days to deliberate, amend and vote on adopting the final UDO.
On Sept. 23, Plan Commissioners also unanimously approved a non-binding resolution asking City Council to consider three additional issues that commissioners did not feel were adequately addressed in the draft UDO: 1) recommendations from the city's Environmental Commission, 2) a clear approval process for cooperative housing projects, and 3) a more transparent payment-in-lieu process.
Sept. 23 was also the final meeting for Joe Hoffmann on the Planning Commission. He has served in that role for 32 years as a liaison from the Bloomington Board of Park Commissioners, and is currently the Plan Commission's president. Other commissioners praised his leadership and gave him a round of applause – along with a bottle of bubbly. ("You can save that for later," Susan Sandberg said. "I think I will," he replied.)
Click here to watch the Plan Commission's Sept. 23 meeting on CATS.
The Monroe County Public Library board has taken several steps toward building a new branch in the southwest area of Monroe County, though a specific location hasn't yet been announced.
At its Sept. 18 meeting, the MCPL board unanimously approved issuing a 20-year bond for up to $5 million for the project, which is estimated to cost about $10 million. The total financing would include cash from reserves as well as operating receipts. The library plans to fund this project without a tax increase.
On Sept. 18, trustees also approved hiring Bose McKinney & Evans LLP of Indianapolis to serve as bond counsel and Baker Tilly Virchow Krause LLP, headquartered in Chicago, to serve as municipal a advisor for the library.
Gary Lettelleir, MCPL finance manager, told trustees this was the "first step for issuing a bond to pay for the new southwest branch construction."
Click here to view the supporting documents, including a project timeline, provided in the board packet. Marilyn Wood, MCPL director, told trustees that the timeline is "more aggressive than we anticipate."
The board has previously approved hiring Matheu Architects for this project. That firm also designed the Ellettsville branch.
Click here to watch the bond presentation at the MCPL board's Sept. 18, 2019 meeting.
On Wednesday, Sept. 25, the MCPL board will hold a public hearing on its 2020 budget. The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. at the downtown library, 303 W. Kirkwood Ave., Room 1B.
Following a directive from the Bloomington City Council earlier this year, new scooter license application forms and processes were approved by the Board of Public Works at its Sept. 17 meeting.
Licensing fees to operate in Bloomington will be $10,000 annually per company, plus 15 cents per ride, per month. That per-ride fee could be reduced to 10 cents if the scooter company agrees to deploy shared-use bikes in a ratio of one bike to every five scooters.
Click here to view the staff report and sample forms.
Adam Wason, director of public works, said the city is also working on other scooter-related issues, including an expanded dismount zone and enforcement.
Wason told the board that he expects they'll have two applications to consider at their next meeting on Sept. 30. That meeting begins at noon at city hall's McCloskey conference room, 401 N. Morton. Lime and Bird both currently operate in Bloomington under interim operating agreements.
Click here to watch the discussion on CATS.
On the third Thursday of each month, Downtown Bloomington Inc. hosts a breakfast meeting that's open to the public. This month, the event drew about two dozen people who gathered at the Bloomington Cooking School.
These meetings primarily consist of updates from everyone who attends. Here's a sampling from the Sept. 19 session (* = Chamber member):
Monroe County* is replacing its downtown canopy of lights on the square with roughly 4,000 LED bulbs. Cassady Electrical Contractors* will be hanging the new strands during the third week of October. The change is estimated to cut electricity costs from $70/day to $15/day.
Downtown employers will be receiving an online survey soon to distribute to their employees as part of the City of Bloomington* Transportation Demand Management (TDM) initiative. The survey will gather information on how employees get to work, parking needs, and incentives they might use for taking alternative transportation, such as public transit.
Malcolm Abrams, publisher of Bloom Magazine* reported that Nov. 1 is the deadline to submit nominations for the monthly magazine's Community Awards, recognizing local business, charity, the arts and diversity. The awards will be presented at a gala in December.
The city's new Switchyard Park will be opening on Nov. 1. The new clubhouse at the Cascades Golf Course will be opening soon as well. It will include rentable space that's available year-round, according to Mary Catherine Carmichael, the city's director of public engagement. She quipped that the previous structure had been "rode hard and put away wet."
Adam Wason, the city's director of public works, reported that "surgical" demolition of the 4th St. garage will begin soon. The next hearing of the eminent domain lawsuit against the city is scheduled for Oct. 7. The city hopes to reach a settlement with Juan Carlos Carrasquel, Wason said. Site plans for the new 4th St. garage won't be reviewed by the Plan Commission until the situation is resolved.
CFC Properties* has launched a new website for Fountain Square. Two additional event spaces are now available for the public. CFC also is looking for a new tenant in the Wicks Building on the square at 116 W. 6th St.
The Bloomington Cooking School* is offering corporate teambuilding sessions for 8-20 people. Groups can come in a prepare a meal together – then eat it! – while getting to know each other and strengthening their business relationships.
The city's tree inventory has been released and "the general impression is not good," according to Julie Roberts, gallery director for the Ivy Tech Waldron Arts Center*, who also serves as president of the city's Utilities Service Board. She urged everyone to be observant of the condition of Bloomington's trees. (Read a report about the tree inventory here.)
The DBI's next breakfast meeting is on Thursday, Oct. 17. Sign up for the group's e-newsletter here.
Seven candidates for Bloomington City Council answered questions about support for the arts at a candidate forum on Tuesday, Sept. 17 organized by Arts Forward Bloomington. The municipal election is on Nov. 5.
The group included candidates in the only two competitive races for council: District 2 candidates Andrew Guenther (R) and Sue Sgambelluri (D), and District 3 candidates Nicholas Kappas (I) and Ron Smith (D). Another District 3 candidate, Marty Spechler (I), did not attend.
Others participating were Democrats Matt Flaherty (at-large), Isabel Piedmont-Smith (District 5), and Steve Volan (District 6). Democrat Susan Sandberg (at-large) sent a statement that was read by Sally Gaskill. None of these candidates are opposed on Nov. 5 so they will automatically be seated in January 2020.
All candidates expressed strong support for the arts. Many mentioned their own involvement – as patrons or practitioners – and described specific actions they'd support on council to ensure a healthy arts community.
For example, both Isabel Piedmont-Smith and Steve Volan, who currently serve on council, expressed interest in including a new performing arts venue as part of the Monroe County Convention Center expansion.
The event, held at the Waldron Arts Center, was moderated by Danielle McClelland, executive director of the Buskirk Chumley Theater.
During her opening remarks, Danielle reported that the city's expenditures on the arts totaled $773,928. That figure included funding to maintain the Buskirk-Chumley building and support its programming, as well as grants through the Bloomington Arts Commission and a range of other sources.
Click here to see the report on city funding sources for the arts. Click here to watch the forum on CATS.
The Bloomington Plan Commission has scheduled three additional meetings to consider amendments to the draft Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). All meetings start at 5:30 p.m.:
1) Duplexes, Triplexes and Quadplexes (Amendments 4A and 4B). In a six-hour meeting on Sept. 5, commissioners heard from 37 residents during a public hearing on the "plexes." In the draft UDO, plexes are a "conditional use" in core neighborhood zones, meaning that the project must go through the city's approval process in order to be built.
About half of the speakers were concerned about the additional density that such units would bring to the city's core neighborhoods, and argued that they shouldn't be allowed at all in those parts of the city. An equal number of speakers believed the city needs more housing stock of all kinds, and that this is one way to achieve that goal.
OUTCOME: Plexes will remain as a conditional use in core neighborhoods (in the UDO draft), after a Plan Commission amendment to make them permitted use (by right) failed on a 4-5 vote. Voting for by right were Brad Wisler, Nick Kappas, Flavia Burrell and Neil Kopper. Voting against were Beth Cate, Joe Hoffmann, Jillian Kinzie, Susan Sandberg and Karin St. John. Watch the deliberations on CATS here.
2) Accessory Dwelling Units (Amendments 5A and 5B). Plan Commissioners considered these amendments on Sept. 10. In the draft UDO, ADUs were allowed by right. Amendment 5A – making ADUs a conditional use – passed on a 5-4 vote. Voting in favor: Joe Hoffmann, Susan Sandberg, Beth Cate, Jillian Kinzie, and Karin St. John. On an 8-1 vote (with Susan Sandberg opposing), Plan Commissioners also approved Amendment 5B, which increased the number of bedrooms and the permitted size of an ADU. As amended, ADUs will be allowed with up to 2 bedrooms and a maximum 840-square-foot size.
OUTCOME: In the UDO draft, ADUs will be a conditional use with up to 2 bedrooms allowed and an 840-square-foot maximum size. Watch the deliberations on CATS here.
3) Payment-in-Lieu (Amendment 7). This amendment was brought forward by Commissioner Flavia Burrell, responding to a recommendation by the Chamber. The intent was to make the process of determining a payment-in-lieu more transparent by requiring approval from the Common Council. Staff objected to that process, however, so on Sept. 10 the Plan Commission amended out the approval requirement. The resulting language is vague and does not specify how the city determines the payment-in-lieu amount.
OUTCOME: Amendment 7 passed without the requirement that the Common Council adopt administrative procedures for calculating, collecting, accounting for and spending payment-in-lieu funds. Watch the deliberations on CATS here.
Click here to see the city's UDO update site, with details about other amendments, links to the full UDO draft and ways to submit written comments.
Thomas Curry has joined the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce as a Public Policy Specialist.
Thomas is currently studying for a Master of Public Affairs degree at Indiana University’s O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, formerly known as SPEA. He will be working with the Chamber for two years through the O’Neill Service Corps Fellow program.
Thomas earned his undergraduate degree in international relations and political science from the University of Indianapolis. After graduation, he worked as a journalist covering the Indiana legislature. Most recently, Thomas returned from Mongolia where he spent two years as an English Teacher Trainer for the Peace Corps.
Thomas is part of the Chamber's Advocacy Team, which includes Mary Morgan, Director of Advocacy & Public Policy, and Jim Shelton, Government Relations Manager. Please join us in welcoming Thomas!