Judge reverses Bloomington BZA on variance for downtown condos, orders re-hearing at next meeting

Monroe County circuit court judge Emily Salzmann has reversed last year’s decision by Bloomington’s board of zoning (BZA) to deny a variance for a proposed development on what is now a surface parking lot west of the CVS building on Kirkwood Avenue.

Developer Randy Lloyd’s Cutters Kirkwood 123 had proposed a four-story building with 15 owner-occupied condos on the site, which would have included just 19 percent of the ground floor as commercial space.

That’s why the BZA was asked to grant a variance from a requirement in Bloomington’s downtown overlay—that at least 50 percent of the ground floor square footage be designed for non-residential and non-parking uses.

The BZA denied the request of a variance at its Oct. 20, 2022 meeting.  On Nov. 18, 2022, Lloyd filed a legal action for a judicial review of the BZA’s decision.

The order from Salzmann, which was issued on Tuesday, reverses the BZA’s denial. Tuesday’s order is based on a determination that the city’s legal department and planning staff gave BZA members incorrect advice about the factors that BZA members could consider, in their decision about whether to grant a variance.

So Tuesday’s order returns the question to the BZA “to be heard at their next meeting and decided on at that meeting.”

It’s not clear if “next meeting” means the Thursday, Nov. 16 meeting that is on the BZA’s calendar. Before publication, The B Square was not able to reach Bloomington planning department staff on the question of whether the Cutters variance would be heard and decided on Thursday. Continue reading “Judge reverses Bloomington BZA on variance for downtown condos, orders re-hearing at next meeting”

High expectations set for new elected officials in Monroe County at swearing-in ceremony

Voters in Monroe County, Indiana, elected a total of 61 local officials in 2022, who start their terms of office on Jan. 1, 2023.

That includes judges, a county commissioner, the sheriff, the recorder, the clerk, the assessor, the prosecutor, county councilors, town councilors, township trustees, township board members, and school board members.

About one-third of them took their oath of office in a public ceremony starting at noon on Sunday, New Year’s Day in the Nat U. Hill room at the county courthouse.

It was a bipartisan event, featuring remarks from Monroe County Republican Party chair Taylor Bryant, and her counterpart for the Democratic  Party, David Henry. Continue reading “High expectations set for new elected officials in Monroe County at swearing-in ceremony”

What candidates said in 3 minutes to make their best pitch to Monroe County voters

On Monday evening, several candidates for local and regional office made an appearance at a networking event hosted by the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce (GBCC) at The Mill, a co-working space north of city hall.

Each candidate got a chance to deliver a quick three-minute stump speech.

This B Square roundup is limited to candidates in contested, partisan races where both candidates appeared.

That leaves out school board races, which are non-partisan.

But one takeaway from Monday’s event was the position taken by school board candidates on the Monroe County Community School Corporation ballot referendum. Each of the three MCCSC school board candidates who attended Monday’s event expressed strong support for the levy increase that appears on the ballot. The three who spoke were: Daniel O’Neill (District 3); Ashley Pirani (District 3); and Erin Wyatt (District 1).

If it’s passed, the referendum would set the school referendum levy rate at $0.185 for eight years, which would increase the average residential taxes paid to the schools by about 35 percent, according to the ballot question wording. The ballot language says the additional money will support the retention and attraction of teachers and staff and enhance programs in STEM, the arts, and special education.

The last day to register to vote in the Nov. 8 election is Oct. 11.  Early voting for the Nov. 8 election starts on Oct. 12.

In Monroe County, early voting will take place at the election operations building at 3rd and Walnut streets.

The GBCC has set up a website with a roundup of information on candidates.  An additional resource for information about candidates is the The League of Women Voters Vote411 website. Continue reading “What candidates said in 3 minutes to make their best pitch to Monroe County voters”

Monroe County campaign finance: 4 races, 17 candidates, $115K

Primary Election Day is May 3.

One limited measure of how much support candidates have among voters is the amount and range of financial contributions to their campaigns so far.

text is "pre-primary campaign finance filings" overlaid on top of a bag with a dollar sign on it

For the 2022 election season in the state of Indiana, pre-primary campaign finance forms were due at noon last Monday, April 18. Those forms are supposed to cover donations and expenditures for the period between Jan. 1, 2022 and April 8, 2022.

The B Square took a look at some of the early campaign finance filings by candidates in four Monroe County races— county commissioner; sheriff; circuit court judge; and recorder.

Those are races that have contested primaries this year for the Democratic Party.

The winner of those races will face a Republican Party candidate in the fall. None of the four races are contested in the Republican Party’s primary. The B Square has included Republican candidates in this roundup, which is compiled in a shared Google Sheet, with links to individual filings.

[Shared Goog Sheet 2020 pre-primary]

The 17 candidates in the four races have raised a combined total of around $115,000.

Counting money raised last year, six candidates for sheriff have raised a combined total of $58,000. The five candidates for judge have raised a combined total of around $28,000. The three candidates for county commissioner have raised a combined total of around $22,300. And the three candidates for county recorder have raised a combined total of around $7,000. Continue reading “Monroe County campaign finance: 4 races, 17 candidates, $115K”

Early in-person voting kicks off for Monroe County

The trademark blue former NAPA building at 3rd and Walnut streets, just south of the new parking garage and west of the downtown transit center, is the new home to Monroe County’s voting operations.

Tuesday was the first day of in-person early voting for the May 3 primary elections.

At 8 o’clock sharp, Monroe County clerk Nicole Browne emerged from the front door to perform the ritual that marked the start of the voting day.

Browne raised her voice to the overcast sky: “Hear ye, hear ye, the polls are now open!”

In the first half hour of voting, only a handful of voters cast a ballot. By then, light rain was falling on the few candidates and volunteers who had come to canvas the early voters.

By around 4 p.m., the count of early voters had reached just 58. For the general election in 2020, Monroe County averaged more than 1,000 early in-person voters a day. It’s not surprising that  interest in the primary elections, between presidential election years, is comparatively lower.

Browne told The B Square earlier in the morning that she’d heard from other county clerks in the state that the number of requested absentee ballots was down compared to 2020. Continue reading “Early in-person voting kicks off for Monroe County”