Johnson’s Creamery: No new alley means no swap, but council’s vacation stands, project can proceed

On the list of Bloomington public rights-of-way there is no longer an east-west alley cutting across the former Johnson’s Creamery parcel off 7th Street and The B-Line Trail.

The city council took care of that when it voted 8–1 to grant a request from Peerless Development to vacate the existing alley at that location.  The dissenting vote came from Dave Rollo.

That clears the way for a housing project that Peerless wants to build.

But on Tuesday night, Bloomington’s board of public works denied a request from Peerless to dedicate a new alley, just to the south of the one that had been vacated.

The denial of the new alley dedication does not stand in the way of the plans that Peerless has for development of the parcel with a 51-unit apartment building. The site plan for the building has been approved by the city’s plan commission.

The plan commission’s approval of the building’s site plan was contingent just on the vacation of the alley. The proposed apartment building would have sat partly in the middle of the alley that was vacated on Monday night. Continue reading “Johnson’s Creamery: No new alley means no swap, but council’s vacation stands, project can proceed”

Bloomington sewer, stormwater rate increases get city council OK

Approved by Bloomington’s city council on Wednesday night were increases to sewer (wastewater) and stormwater rates. Not affected are drinking water rates.

Stormwater rates will increase from $5.95 a month to $7.50 a month for about a 26-percent increase. That works out to $18.60 more a year. [($7.50 – $5.95) * 12] The stormwater rate increase will take effect in January 2023.

On the sewer side, the increases are in two phases, the first in January 2023 and the second two years later, starting in January 2025.

For the sewer monthly service charge, the first bump is from $8.19 to $9.17 and then to $9.72. From the current rate to the Phase II rate, that’s an 18.6-percent increase. [$8.19/($9.72 – $8.19)]

For the sewer usage rate, the first bump is from $7.99 per 1,000 gallons to $8.95, then to $9.49 in the second phase. From the current rate to the Phase II rate, that’s about an 18.7-percent increase. [($9.49 – $7.99)/ $7.99]

Based on past B Square reporting, an average city of Bloomington utilities (CBU) customer who lives inside the city uses 3,300 gallons of sewage service a month.

Comparing current rates to what the rates will eventually be under Phase II, an average inside-the-city customer would see an annual sewer bill increase from $414.68 to $492.44.

The votes on the rate increases were unanimous. Continue reading “Bloomington sewer, stormwater rate increases get city council OK”

Johnson’s Creamery alley vacated by city council on 8–1 vote, BPW to see request for new alley next week

By an 8-to-1 tally, Bloomington’s city council voted Wednesday night to vacate an east-west alley that cuts across the old Johnson’s Creamery property off 7th Street and The B-Line Trail.

Taken at face value, giving up that right-of-way clears the way for Peerless Development to construct a 51-unit apartment building, which has site plan approval from the city’s plan commission. The plan commission’s approval of the building’s site plan was contingent on the vacation of the alley.

The proposed apartment building would sit partly in the middle of the alley that was vacated on Monday night.

But the city council’s approval was part of a kind of swap that Peerless is proposing: The vacation of the existing east-west alley would be made in exchange for the dedication of a new alley, just to the south of the existing one.

The dedication of the new right-of-way would have to be accepted by the board of public works. That’s queued up for the board’s meeting next week, on Nov. 22. Continue reading “Johnson’s Creamery alley vacated by city council on 8–1 vote, BPW to see request for new alley next week”

New alley as part of swap at old Johnson’s Creamery likely won’t get city engineer’s support

A potential alley “swap” that would be crucial to construction of about 50 new apartments off 7th Street  is a possibility that Peerless Development is still trying to sort out.

At its Wednesday meeting, Bloomington’s city council did not take up its part of the swap, which would be to vacate the existing east-west alley on the old Johnson’s Creamery parcel.

The new apartment building, to be built on the northern part of the parcel, which is now a parking lot, would encroach on the existing alley. That is why the Peerless wants the council to approve a vacation of that public right-of-way.

The reason the council took no action on Wednesday is that by the time the agenda item was reached, the hour had grown late, so the council declined to take up the question of an alley vaction.

That means the alley vacation won’t be considered until the council’s Nov. 16 meeting.

The other piece of the swap—the dedication of a new alley just south of the existing one—won’t be considered until Nov. 22, at a meeting of the board of public works. Continue reading “New alley as part of swap at old Johnson’s Creamery likely won’t get city engineer’s support”

Bloomington city council preview: Johnson’s Creamery alley vacation; higher sewer, storm rates

Next Wednesday’s meeting of the Bloomington city council (Nov. 2) will likely feature a renewed consideration of a request by Peerless Development to vacate an east-west alley on the old Johnson’s Creamery building.

According to a memo in the council’s nearly 500-page meeting information packet, it’s expected that a motion will be made at Wednesday’s meeting to take up the item again for consideration. The request was tabled at the council’s meeting in the third week of July.

Also on Wednesday’s agenda are first readings for increases to the monthly sewer and stormwater fees. Because of a 68-year old clause in Bloomington’s local code, no discussion of the rate increases can take place at their first reading on Wednesday.

Based on their pattern of the last couple of months, councilmembers might spend some time debating whether to discuss the rate increases at a committee-of-the-whole meeting the following week, or to skip the committee meeting. A vote to enact the rate increases, to start in 2023, could come on Nov. 16.

Already anticipated on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting of the Bloomington city council was a proposal to install a stop sign at the intersection of Maxwell Lane and Sheridan Drive.  Based on the discussion at a committee-of-the-whole meeting this past week, the stop sign ordinance probably has at least five votes of support, which would be enough on the nine-member city council to pass it. Continue reading “Bloomington city council preview: Johnson’s Creamery alley vacation; higher sewer, storm rates”

Johnson’s Creamery developer pitches swap of alley location, city council puts off decision

Just this week, a plot twist has emerged in connection with the potential future development of the northern part of the 7th Street parcel where the Johnson’s Creamery building sits.

The twist: Peerless Development has added a corresponding offer to its request for an alley vacation

Now, Peerless says it is willing to dedicate a new public alley on the property, just south of the existing alley. The vacation, combined with the new dedication, would amount to moving the existing alley a bit to the south.

Peerless wants the existing alley to be vacated, in order to build a 51-unit apartment complex north of the old creamery building, 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.

The creamery’s historic smokestack stands in the existing alley. It is subject to a partial demolition order  from the city, based on an engineering study.

At its Wednesday meeting, Bloomington’s city council responded to the offer to move the alley, instead of just vacating the existing public right-of-way, by putting off a decision on the alley vacation.

What the council did procedurally was to table the question. The vote on tabling was 6–2, with Dave Rollo and Jim Sims dissenting. Kate Rosenbarger was absent. Continue reading “Johnson’s Creamery developer pitches swap of alley location, city council puts off decision”

Council defers to Johnson’s Creamery owner wish, delays alley vacation vote until after own vacation

At its Wednesday meeting this week, Bloomington’s city council was expected to vote on a request from Peerless Development to vacate an east-west alley on the Johnson’s Creamery building property off 7th Street.

A future housing development, based on its current design, depends on the vacation of the alley.

But the council voted to postpone its vote until July 20, which is the next scheduled regular city council meeting. The month-long gap in meetings reflects the council’s “summer recess”—its own seasonal vacation—on its annual schedule.

Vacating an alley means ceding to private ownership some land that is now public right-of-way.

It is the second time the council has postponed a vote on the question—the first occasion was on June 1.  Both times, the request to postpone came at the request of Peerless.

Peerless wants additional time to explore its options with its title company and with the engineering firm that did a study of the 140-foot historic smokestack located in the middle of the alley. Continue reading “Council defers to Johnson’s Creamery owner wish, delays alley vacation vote until after own vacation”

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”

Bloomington city council to weigh: Should Johnson’s Creamery developer pay to get alley vacation OK’d?

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

The alley vacation is 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. 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 partly in the right-of-way.

Based on deliberations at the city council’s committee-of-the-whole meeting on Wednesday this week, the alley vacation could depend on the willingness of Peerless to pay the city $250,000 or more for the creation of a piece of public art.

The artwork would commemorate the creamery’s 140-foot historic smokestack, which Peerless has been ordered by the city to demolish down to 60 feet—because of its structurally unsafe lean.

On Wednesday, Peerless founder Michael Cordaro told the council he couldn’t agree to the payment for the artwork, adding that he’d been presented with the proposal by deputy mayor Don Griffin just about 24 hours earlier.

Based on discussion at Wednesday’s committee meeting, one scenario that could unfold is that no agreement is reached on an art-for-alley deal, the council rejects the request next Wednesday, and Peerless sells the project to a different owner.

If that happens, then under Indiana state law, the future development of the lot would stall for at least two years.

Under IC 36-7-3-15, if a vacation proceeding is “terminated,” then another one can’t be initiated for another two years, no matter who owns the real estate. Continue reading “Bloomington city council to weigh: Should Johnson’s Creamery developer pay to get alley vacation OK’d?”

Bloomington BPW affirms order to AT&T: Take gear off Johnson’s Creamery smokestack by May 31

At its Tuesday evening meeting, Bloomington’s board of public works voted to affirm an order from the city’s housing and neighborhood development (HAND) department, which requires AT&T to remove its communications equipment from near the top of the Johnson’s Creamery smokestack—by midnight on May 31.

The removal of AT&T’s equipment will help set the stage for the owner’s partial demolition of the smokestack—from 140 feet down to 60 feet. The building, with its smokestack, is owned by Peerless Development.

The partial demolition was ordered by HAND because an engineering study determined the smokestack is unsafe.

If AT&T doesn’t comply with the order to vacate, it could face a daily fine of $500 from the city of Bloomington. Continue reading “Bloomington BPW affirms order to AT&T: Take gear off Johnson’s Creamery smokestack by May 31”