Wheeler Mission shelter rezone request gets nod from Bloomington plan commission, now goes to city council

A request for a rezoning of Wheeler Mission’s property on Westplex Avenue off 3rd Street won an 8–1 recommendation of approval from Bloomington’s plan commission at the group’s regular monthly meeting on Monday.

Dissenting on the vote was Israel Herrera. The request now goes to the city council, which will have 90 days to either approve or reject the proposal. If the council takes no action, the outcome is automatic approval.

The rezone, from mixed-use employment (ME) to mixed-use medium scale (MM), is being requested so that Wheeler Mission can expand its programs by moving some of its shelter beds to a parcel that it acquired in May of this year.

Dana Jones, director of Wheeler Mission Ministries, told plan commissioners the expansion of program space does not mean an expansion of bed capacity. The idea is to return to the same capacity as in pre-pandemic times, which is 130 beds.

Programs for which there would be more space, if the rezone request is approved, include life skills training, financial management and job readiness.

Public commentary during the plan commission’s meeting came from surrounding business owners, who described the impact they’ve seen from the behavior of some Wheeler Mission shelter guests.

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Monroe county’s commissioners: GO, dog. GO bonds!

Cropped courthouse dog sign IMG_2565

The largest dollar-amount item on the regular meeting agenda for Monroe County commissioners on Wednesday morning was approval of a $5.17 million general obligation (GO) bond, to pay for a raft of projects. The two commissioners present on the three-member board—Julie Thomas and Penny Githens—approved the bond issuance.

Also at the meeting, a few ordinances regulating behavior on the courthouse grounds were revised, to add some additional punishments for violating the existing county laws on hours of operation, littering and camping. The new penalty allows for an escalating series of bans from the property, in 30-day increments.

The ordinance revisions were made, because of persisting “incidents of alcohol consumption during the day, fighting, and the deposit of trash, garbage, human waste, and used syringes on the Courthouse grounds,” according to the resolution approved by commissioners.

A separate ordinance revision, also related to the courthouse grounds now allows dogs on the grounds, if they’re on a leash and under control.

Downward dogs will also be allowed as a result of the approval commissioners gave to a contract to with a yoga teacher to give classes to county employees at no cost to them.
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