Bloomington police investigate late Tuesday evening shooting of 21-year-old woman

A 21-year-old woman was shot late Tuesday evening on the 1200 block of North Maple Street, according to a Wednesday afternoon news release from Bloomington police department (BPD).

BPD is asking anyone with information about the shooting to contact detective Kevin Frank at (812) 349-3322.

Just before 11 p.m. officers responded to a report of a person who had been shot, according to the news release. They found a 21-year-old woman in an apartment with several gunshot wounds.

At the scene, officers gave the woman emergency medical care. She was then taken to IU Health’s Bloomington hospital and later flown by LifeLine helicopter to an Indianapolis hospital. The news release says her condition is not known.

According to the news release, the woman and a 17-year-old man had been standing outside the apartment when someone fired at them several times from the area of the parking lot. Police do not know how many shots were fired or how many shooters there were.

A passenger car was seen speeding away from the area, but it is unknown if the car was involved in the shooting, according to the release. Continue reading “Bloomington police investigate late Tuesday evening shooting of 21-year-old woman”

One down, two to go: Fiber-to-home deal passes muster with Bloomington plan commission

Bloomington plan commission (June 13, 2022)

A deal between a Paris-based infrastructure company and the city of Bloomington, to construct a fiber-to-the-home open-access network offering symmetric 1-Gigabit service, took a step forward Monday evening.

On a unanimous vote, the city’s plan commission found that an already-approved redevelopment commission (RDC) resolution and its associated economic development plan—on which the Bloomington-Meridiam fiber deal depends—is consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan.

That’s the first of three approvals the city’s administration is hoping to get this week for a tax increment finance (TIF) arrangement, that would see about $10.9 million in personal property taxes reimbursed to Meridiam over a 20-year period. That’s down from the estimated $14.4 million that had been previously negotiated for a 25-year period.

Next up will be an approval from the (economic development commission (EDC)), which the city administration is hoping to get at the EDC’s 4 p.m. Tuesday meeting.

That could be followed by an approval at this Wednesday’s city council meeting.

Last week, the city’s RDC took the first step towards all the approvals necessary when it passed the required declaratory resolution.

On Monday, the administration’s case for conformity with the city’s comprehensive plan was presented to the plan commission by development services manager Jackie Scanlan. Continue reading “One down, two to go: Fiber-to-home deal passes muster with Bloomington plan commission”

Bloomington-Meridiam fiber-to-home internet deal: 3 public bodies, 3 meetings, 3 days

Now pending is a deal between the city of Bloomington and Meridiam, a Paris-based infrastructure company, that would build a fiber-to-the-home network offering symmetric 1-Gigabit service, reaching at least 85-percent of the city.

The image links to a dynamic map. (UG = underground; AE = aerial)

The city describes the deal in terms of a $50 million investment that Meridiam will make. Meridiam has made the arrangement contingent on a kind of “tax rebate” for the company, amounting to $14.4 million over 20 years.

Meridiam says the creation of the wholesale open-access network—after an initial 5-7 year period of exclusive operation by an as-yet-unnamed internet service provider (ISP)—would create about 10 new jobs, with a payroll of about $1.1 million.

Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) got the legal process started last week, when it voted 4-0 to approve a declaratory resolution.

For the deal to go through, three different public bodies will need to give approvals, at three separate meetings, which are set for Monday (plan commission), Tuesday (economic development commission), and Wednesday (city council) of this week.

The final vote, by the RDC, is set for July 5. Continue reading “Bloomington-Meridiam fiber-to-home internet deal: 3 public bodies, 3 meetings, 3 days”

Latest filing in Bloomington annexation case: Remonstrators ask for more time due to ”pestilence”

In a June 6 court filing, remonstrators in Bloomington annexation Area 1A and Area 1B have argued for additional time to collect remonstrance signatures against the city council’s annexation ordinances, which were approved in September 2021.

The remonstrators’ basic argument stems from the fact that the COIVD-19 pandemic had caused Indiana governor Eric Holcomb to issue an emergency health order, which covered the time for signature collection.

The original 90-day window for remonstrance closed on Jan. 6 of this year (2022).

Area 1A is just west of Bloomington. Area 1B lies to the southwest.

The June 6 court papers include a response to the city of Bloomington’s previous motion  on the same topic. Bloomington asked the court to disallow any extension of time to collect more signatures.

The lawsuit involving Area 1A and Area 1B is separate from the lawsuits initiated by Bloomington, one for each annexation area, filed against various parties, based in part on the idea that many of the remonstrance signatures come from property owners who had previously waived their right to remonstrate.

In Area 1A and Area 1B, property owners in each area separately achieved remonstrance signatures from more than 50 percent of property owners, but less than 65 percent, according to the county auditor’s certified results. If signatures from 65 percent of property owners had been collected, that would have meant an automatic stop to Bloomington’s annexations of the two areas, without review by a court. But achieving 50 percent meant that Bloomington’s annexation ordinances for those areas were able to get a review by a court.

The idea of an extension for more time to collect signatures is not new—it was a part of the original complaint filed by remonstrators in mid-March.

But now, the arguments on either side for and against an extension are starting to get fleshed out. A hearing is currently set for July 29 in front of judge Nathan Nikirk. Continue reading “Latest filing in Bloomington annexation case: Remonstrators ask for more time due to ”pestilence””

Bloomington mayoral campaign committee formed by Kerry Thomson

Just before noon on Wednesday, Bloomington resident Kerry Thomson filed paperwork with Monroe County’s election division to establish a principal committee for a 2023 mayoral campaign.

Kerry Thomson. Photo from a May 15, 2022 event hosted at the Switchyard Park pavilion by Indiana University’s Center for Rural Engagement called “Community Conversations on Housing.”

That makes two Democrats in as many weeks to file some kind of paperwork for a Bloomington mayoral run. On June 1, city council president Susan Sandberg filed paperwork to create an exploratory committee.

The basic impact of the different committee types is that when Sandberg formally declares her candidacy—which is not possible until the first week of January 2023—she will need to file an amendment to convert her exploratory committee to a principle committee.

Incumbent mayor Democrat John Hamilton has not formally announced that he is running for re-election to a third four-year term.

Since late 2018, Thomson has served as executive director of Indiana University’s Center for Rural Engagement (IUCRE). The center’s website describes the IU initiative as tapping the research, expertise, teaching, and service of IU Bloomington faculty, staff, and students to create connections between non-land-grant, research institutions and rural communities. Continue reading “Bloomington mayoral campaign committee formed by Kerry Thomson”

First step for Bloomington-Meridiam internet deal OK’d, as current broadband companies ask: Why?

On Monday, the first step towards a $50 million high-speed internet fiber deal, between Bloomington and the Paris-based infrastructure firm Meridiam, got a 4–0 vote of approval from the city’s redevelopment commission (RDC).

The question in front of the RDC was a resolution that declares an economic development area, designating it as a TIF (tax increment finance) area, and approving an economic development plan.

The idea is to rebate about $14.4 million in personal property tax to Meridiam over the course of 25 20 years. Under the agreement, which is not yet finalized, Meridiam will build and operate a fiber-to-the-home network as an open access platform, which eventually any internet service provider (ISP) can use. That’s after an exclusive five-year period for the initial ISP. Continue reading “First step for Bloomington-Meridiam internet deal OK’d, as current broadband companies ask: Why?”

Mapping tools released: Anyone can draw new Bloomington city council districts

Screenshot of the mapping tool created by the MGGG Lab at Tufts University loaded with Bloomington data. The image links to the mapping tool: Pick “Cities” then “Bloomington”

Late last week, the MGGG Lab at Tufts University released a mapping tool that makes it easy for anyone to draw new boundaries for Bloomington’s city council districts.

The release is part of a web-based redistricting resource the lab has developed, called Districtr. The Bloomington module of Districtr was created at The B Square’s request.

The acronym MGGG stands for Metric Geometry and Gerrymandering Group. Continue reading “Mapping tools released: Anyone can draw new Bloomington city council districts”

Vacation of alleys for hospital site redevelopment gets yes from Bloomington council on second try

At its meeting on Wednesday, Bloomington’s city council voted unanimously to vacate parts of two alleys in one of the blocks near the former site of the IU Health hospital.

The request came from the Hamilton administration through the Bloomington redevelopment commission (RDC).

The block in question is bounded by Morton and Rogers streets on the east and west, and by 2nd and 1st streets on the north and south.

The vacation of alleys approved by the council on Wednesday was the same proposal that had failed on a 4–5 vote in the first week of April.

But the council used an uncommon procedure from Robert’s Rules—called “renewal” of a motion—to consider the question again on Wednesday.

Convincing the council to revisit the question were several concessions made by the administration in connection with the planning for the former hospital site, which has been named the Hopewell neighborhood. Continue reading “Vacation of alleys for hospital site redevelopment gets yes from Bloomington council on second try”

Bloomington city council decision on Johnson’s Creamery alley vacation to wait until June 15

At its regular meeting on Wednesday (June 1), Bloomington’s city council postponed a vote on a request from Peerless Development to vacate an east-west alley that cuts across the parcel where the Johnson’s Creamery building sits.

Vacating the alley means ceding to private ownership some land that is now public right-of-way. The vote to postpone a vote until June 15 was unanimous. That’s the last regular meeting before the council’s summer recess.

The alley vacation would be needed in order for Peerless to move ahead with a development on the northern part of the parcel. The housing development is supposed to include 51 apartments right next to the B-Line Trail, off 7th Street. Bloomington’s plan commission approved the site plan for the new development in October 2021.

But that approval was contingent on getting a greenlight from the city council for the vacation of the east-west alley—because part of the proposed new building would sit in the right-of-way. Continue reading “Bloomington city council decision on Johnson’s Creamery alley vacation to wait until June 15”

Column: Judge rules Bloomington plan commission violated Open Door Law, second lawsuit now filed

In a ruling issued on June 1, Monroe County circuit court judge Catherine Stafford found that Bloomington’s plan commission violated Indiana’s Open Door Law (ODL) with its March 14, 2022 meeting.

Photo of plan commission in-person meeting with numbers 1 to 4 labeling the members who are physically present
This photo shows the plan commissioners who were physically present at the March 14, 2022 gathering. The graphics for the numbers have been added.

The allegation that the meeting violated the electronic meetings section of the ODL was made in a lawsuit that I filed a week after it took place.

The electronic meetings section of the ODL requires that at least 50 percent of the plan commissioners have to be physically present at the meeting. That works out to at least five of nine plan commissioners.

At the March 14 meeting, six of nine attended, but just four plan commissioners were physically present. The other two participated remotely.

Bloomington’s city attorney Mike Rouker tried to argue that the 50-percent is supposed to be calculated based on the number of plan commissioners present at the meeting, not the number of seated plan commissioners. Rouker’s attempted argument was counter to the widely disseminated guidance on the relatively new section of the ODL, which was provided last year by Indiana’s public access counselor.

However, the judge stopped short of granting all of the requested relief—which was to void the decisions made at the March 14 meeting. That would have forced the plan commission to reconsider all of the business that it transacted at the meeting.

Still, the plan commission has now reconsidered one of the votes that was taken at the March 14 meeting. Continue reading “Column: Judge rules Bloomington plan commission violated Open Door Law, second lawsuit now filed”