Local governments are making changes in response to threats from the coronavirus pandemic.
The City of Bloomington is reducing large in-person meeting effective March 16, including advisory board and commission meetings and several upcoming special events. Monroe County has canceled all board and commission meetings through March 25, other than meetings of the Board of Commissioners and County Council.
Gov. Eric Holcomb issued a Declaration of Public Health Emergency on March 6.
In a press release issued March 12, the Monroe County Health Department stated that employers should encourage telecommuting where possible and consider temporary changes to sick leave and/or hardship policies to address employee needs. Penny Caudill, the county's health administrator, also recommended implementing contingency staffing plans that will include flexible scheduling as well as temporary changes and exceptions to leave policies, in order to allow employees to take care of themselves or family members.
The Centers for Disease Control has created a guide for businesses to plan, prepare, and respond to the coronavirus. The Indiana State Department of Health and the Monroe County Health Department will also continue to update their sites as more information becomes available.
A vacancy has opened on the Bloomington Board of Park Commissioners, following the recent resignation of Lisa Simmons Thatcher. Her resignation was announced at the board's Jan. 28 meeting.
The Chamber encourages our members to join advisory groups that guide the City of Bloomington and Monroe County government. Click here to apply for the Bloomington Board of Park Commissioners. Appointments are made by the mayor.
This is the second change in membership over the past few months on the 4-member Board of Park Commissioners. Last year, long-time member Joe Hoffmann stepped down. Israel Herrera was recently appointed to that seat.
The Board of Park Commissioners meets on the 4th Tuesday of each month at 4 p.m. at Bloomington City Hall, 401 N. Morton. The group oversees the city's Parks & Recreation Department, which includes the Community Farmers' Market.
Interested in serving on other boards or commissions? Click here for information about the City of Bloomington's advisory groups. For a list of Monroe County boards and commissions, click here.
Two board members for the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce – Lisa Abbott and Cindy Kinnarney – have been appointed to the Monroe County Redevelopment Commission and the Bloomington Redevelopment Commission, respectively.
Lisa Abbott is executive vice president of the Bloomington Board of Realtors. Cindy Kinnarney is market president for First Financial Bank and serves as first vice chair on the Chamber board.
The Monroe County Redevelopment Commission, on which Lisa Abbott serves, is a five-member board that oversees projects in the county's tax-increment finance (TIF) districts. Three members of this commission are appointed by the County Commissioners and two members are appointed by the County Council. Jim Shelton, the Chamber's government relations manager, is also a member of the county RDC.
Cindy Kinnarney is the newest member of the Bloomington Redevelopment Commission, which oversees the city's Department of Housing & Neighborhood Development (HAND), including the city's TIF districts. Three members of this 5-member board are appointed by the mayor. The other two are appointed by the Bloomington Council.
The Chamber encourages our members to serve on advisory boards and commissions for local government. Click here for more information on how to find vacancies and apply.
The fate of the Monroe County Convention Center expansion will likely be decided within the next 48 hours. We need your help in ensuring our elected officials work together to agree on a governance structure so that this important project can move forward.
The Monroe County Council is poised to consider possibly repealing the Food & Beverage Tax, which funds the expansion, if no concrete progress is made by Friday afternoon.
The Chamber supports the creation of a Capital Improvement Board (CIB) as the governance structure for an expanded convention center. We support equal representation between the City of Bloomington and Monroe County, which has been agreed upon by both sides. The county commissioners have begun the process of creating a CIB and could make that final decision at their Dec. 11 meeting.
We are concerned that the palpable bitterness and distrust between the county commissioners and city administration could ultimately derail this project.
Please contact our Bloomington/Monroe County elected representatives to urge all parties to move forward with this project. Click here for contact information. See below for additional background, as well as information about upcoming public meetings where you can speak in person. Questions? Contact Mary Morgan, the Chamber's Director of Advocacy & Public Policy, at email@example.com or 812-336-6381.
Timeline of Upcoming Meetings
Here's a timeline of upcoming meetings and possible actions. For additional background on recent actions, read this article from the B Square Beacon.
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.
At its Aug. 29 special meeting, the Bloomington Plan Commission 1) passed one “clean-up” amendment to the draft Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), 2) asked staff to develop six amendments for consideration on Sept. 5, and 3) directed staff to prepare another 11 UDO amendments to consider on Sept. 10 or at subsequent meetings.
Here’s a roundup of amendments that planning staff will be drafting for the Sept. 5 meeting. They were proposed by Planning Commission chair Joe Hoffmann and unanimously supported by the rest of the commission. The substance of the amendments will be debated and likely voted on at the Sept. 5 session, which starts at 5:30 p.m. at city hall council chambers.
UPDATE: It's likely that on Sept. 5 commissioners will only be deliberating on amendments related to duplexes, triplexes and quadplexes. The first set of draft amendments are now posted on the city's UDO update site.
For Sept. 10 or later meetings, here are amendments that planning staff will be drafting, based on Plan Commission requests (the name of the commissioner who proposed each amendment is indicated in parentheses):
Draft amendments are expected to be posted on the city's UDO update site before the Sept. 5 meeting.
The following were considered "clean-up" amendments and were passed unanimously by Plan Commissioners at their Aug. 29 meeting. The amendment allows duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes as permitted uses for new subdivisions and undeveloped locations of the city, while keeping these "plexes" as conditional uses for other areas. The most recent draft had inadvertently designated all duplexes, triplexes and quadplexes as conditional uses.
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.
You know summer has officially arrived with the opening of the Monroe County Fair! Though the fair lasts for about a week – from June 28 through July 7 – the work to make it happen takes place year-round.
A big part of that effort is handled by the fair Board of Directors. This year, officers are James Stanger (president), Jay Walters (1st vice president), John Daniel (2nd vice president), Tonya Clark (secretary), Tami Amick and Karen Britton (treasurers). They've already started plans for 2020, including recruitment of new board members.
Interested in serving? Elections to the board take place in October. To be added to the ballot, contact Tonya Clark at email@example.com or 812-327-3634.
Tonya was recently interviewed by Chamber CEO Erin Predmore for the Chamber's 3 Things podcast about what's happening at the fair. You'll find out how to register a team for mud volleyball, how to tell the difference between a fair queen and princess, and how pigs are judged. (Hint: It's not about how cute they are.)
Listen to the episode here – and be sure to subscribe to future 3 Things on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you download your podcasts. Meanwhile, see you at the fair!
If you've ever wondered "How can I influence what happens in this community?" - or even if you haven't - here's one answer: Volunteer for a city advisory group. The Chamber encourages our members to get involved, as a way to give input on local policies that affect our city.
Each month we highlight a few current board/commission vacancies. The June 2019 vacancies include:
Parking Commission: Three seats are posted as vacant on the Bloomington Parking Commission. Among other things, this 9-member group works on developing parking policy that supports the city's comprehensive plan. (What's the comprehensive plan? Find out here.) The Parking Commission's next meeting is a work session on Thursday, June 13. Click here to apply.
Traffic Commission. Keeping with the transit theme, the city's 9-member Traffic Commission also has three vacancies. The group hears traffic-related complaints, makes recommendations on improving traffic conditions, and gives input on enforcing traffic regulations. Its next meeting is Wednesday, June 26. Click here to apply.
Board of Public Safety. This 5-member board, which oversees the police and fire departments, has one vacancy. All positions are appointed by the mayor. Its next meeting is Tuesday, June 18. Click here to apply.
Check out this site for information on other city vacancies and how to apply. After applying, members must be appointed to each board or commission by the Mayor, the Common Council, or another board or commission. And FYI: City residency is required for membership on most of the boards and commissions.
Director of Advocacy & Public Policy