In a filing made last Friday, Jan. 31, Bloomington gave notice of an appeal of rulings made against the city in the 222 Hats eminent domain case involving the replacement of the 4th Street parking garage.
The notice of appeal indicates the city is appealing both rulings by Monroe County circuit court judge Holly Harvey—made late last year on Dec. 20, 2019 and last week on Jan. 28, 2020.
The first ruling was on the merits of the eminent domain case, which Harvey concluded in favor of landowner Juan Carlos Carrasquel. It is Carrasquel’s building that the city wanted to acquire through eminent domain, so that it can build a replacement for the 352-space 4th Street parking garage on a larger footprint than the now-demolished garage.
The first ruling was based on the idea that the the ground-floor retail component of the city’s proposed replacement disqualified it from the public use to which eminent domain acquisitions are supposed to be put. Said Harvey: “[T]he retail use of the proposed project, which cannot be separated from the public aspect, prohibits the taking of the 222 Hats Real Estate.”
The second ruling was on Bloomington’s request to amend the design of the proposed replacement parking structure design, so that it did not include the offending commercial component.
Harvey denied the request to amend, on the grounds that such a design did not conform with facts presented earlier in the case. Those facts could have related to the funding of the project or the city’s ability to win approval from the plan commission for a design that did not include the ground-floor commercial use that is required by city code.
Responding to some questions from The Square Beacon, the Bloomington’s communications director, Yael Ksander, issued the following statement:
We cannot comment on our strategy with regard to ongoing litigation. The City is evaluating all available legal avenues and is weighing a multitude of factors in considering its options. We are acutely aware of the critical need for the garage, and this urgent need for parking is our primary consideration in determining the best path forward.
The 4th Street garage was closed a little more than a year ago, because it was failing structurally. Demolition was completed in late 2019. The construction phase of a replacement garage is estimated to take about a year, maybe a little less.
Forecasting how long an appeal would take is not an exact science. For a different case involving the definition of a fraternity in its zoning code, the Bloomington filed notice of appeal at the end of February last year. The court of appeals ruled last week in the case. [City of Bloomington BZA v. UJ-Eight Corporation]
Factoring in a year or more for an appeal to conclude, and a year’s time for construction, would put the time frame for the completion of a replacement garage sometime in early 2022 at the soonest.
Fees claimed by Carrasquel’s attorneys total more than $64,000. A hearing on the fees is currently scheduled for March 9, 2020 at 10:30 a.m. in Monroe’s circuit court.
For all Beacon coverage of the eminent domain lawsuit see: City of Bloomington v. 222 Hats.