Negative stamp on rezone for jail by Bloomington plan commission, could still win city council’s OK

The Monroe County government’s planned construction of a new jail on an 87-acre parcel in the southwest corner of Bloomington hit a snag on Monday night.

By a 6–3 vote, Bloomington’s plan commission supported the planning staff’s recommendation to send a negative recommendation to the city council about Monroe County government’s request for a rezone of the 87 acres, so that a jail could be built there.

The county government’s request would change the zoning of the land from mixed-use employment (ME) to mixed-use institutional (MI). Use of the property as a jail would not be allowed under ME, but could be allowed under MI.

A jail is a “conditional use” under MI zoning.

That means even if the city council were to approve the rezone, Monroe County government would still have to go through the conditional use approval process in front of the city’s board of zoning appeals.

On Monday, a staff attorney for the county, Jeff Cockerill, told the plan commission that Monroe County had a purchase agreement for the land, contingent on approval of a rezone—but that agreement expires at the end of the year.

After this Wednesday, the city council’s calendar for the rest of the year has two more regular meetings.

There’s now a 10-day timeframe for planning director Scott Robinson to certify the outcome of the plan commission’s Monday recommendation to the city clerk. That would set up Monroe County government with enough time to hit the deadline for submission of the materials to the city council office for the council’s Dec. 7 meeting, when the rezone could get a first reading.

That could set the table for the city council to approve the rezone, when it would get a second reading at the council’s final meeting of the year on Dec. 21. Continue reading “Negative stamp on rezone for jail by Bloomington plan commission, could still win city council’s OK”

First rezone hearing for potential new jail highlights employment center versus institutional use

On Monday, a lot of ground got covered at the Bloomington plan commission’s first hearing about a rezone request from Monroe County government.

The rezone is needed if a new jail is to be built in the southwest corner of the city.

But one topic emerged as a big concern for plan commissioners: Should they depart from the “employment center” designation for the area that is reflected in the city’s comprehensive plan?

The current mixed-use employment (ME) zoning for the 87-acre parcel squares up perfectly with the comprehensive plan’s designation. The county’s request would change the zoning of the land from mixed-use employment (ME) to mixed-use institutional (MI). Use of the property as a jail would not be allowed under ME, but could be allowed under MI. A jail is a “conditional use” under MI zoning.

President of the plan commission, Brad Wisler, put it like this: “A large chunk of our employment in Bloomington comes from those uses that the ME zone is designed for.” Wisler added, “If you look at things like Cook, Catalent, et cetera, if we ever want to attract another one of those types of employers, this seems like a prime spot for it.”

The second hearing in front of the plan commission is set for Nov. 14. The plan commission’s recommendation will feed into the Bloomington city council’s decision on the rezone. Continue reading “First rezone hearing for potential new jail highlights employment center versus institutional use”

Rezone request for potential county jail property to be heard by Bloomington plan commission

Should an 87-acre parcel in the southwest corner of Bloomington be rezoned so that a new Monroe County jail can be built there?

That’s the question that Bloomington plan commissioners will start tackling at their regular meeting on Monday (Oct. 10).

Instead of voting at that meeting on the rezone request from Monroe County, city plan commissioners will likely move the matter to a second hearing to be held at their November meeting.

The county’s request would change the zoning of the land from mixed-use employment (ME) to mixed-use institutional (MI). Use of the property as a jail would not be allowed under ME, but could be under MI. A jail is a “conditional use” under MI zoning.

Monroe County has made an offer to purchase the property for about $10 million. But that offer is contingent on  an eventual rezone, approved by the city council.

The plan commission’s recommendation on the rezone, for or against, will be a big factor eventually considered by city councilmembers when the request comes before them. Continue reading “Rezone request for potential county jail property to be heard by Bloomington plan commission”

Delayed: Bloomington plan commission hearing on rezone for possible future site of Monroe County jail

An expected hearing next week on Monroe County government’s request for a rezoning of 87 acres in southwest Bloomington has been put off until October.

The reason for the delay was a failure by Monroe County government to post the required signs at the property, 21 days before the hearing.

The site is the hoped-for location of the new jail that Monroe County is looking to build, in order to meeting constitutional standards.

The rezoning, from mixed-use employment (ME) to mixed-use institutional (MI), was expected to be heard by the Bloomington plan commission next Monday (Sept. 12).

But that hearing has been put off until October 10. In the vocabulary used by the plan commission the hearing has been “continued” until the regular monthly meeting in October.

Bloomington and Monroe County officials have confirmed to The B Square that the hearing was put off a month, because the required signs were not posted at the property at least 21 days before the hearing. Continue reading “Delayed: Bloomington plan commission hearing on rezone for possible future site of Monroe County jail”

Monroe County looking to build new jail in SW Bloomington, $10M real estate deal gets initial OK

If Monroe County builds a new jail, where will it be located? The answer to that question came Wednesday morning.

A $10.02 million purchase agreement for an 87-acre piece of land at the northeast corner of I-69 and West Fullerton Pike was approved on a unanimous vote of the three Monroe County commissioners at their regular Wednesday meeting.

The land sits inside Bloomington in the southwest corner of the city.

The land deal is part of a plan to replace the jail currently located in the justice center building at 7th Street and College Avenue in downtown Bloomington. County officials hope to have the deal done by year’s end.

The impetus to replace the jail includes long-standing challenges identified in two reports from consultants delivered a year ago. Continue reading “Monroe County looking to build new jail in SW Bloomington, $10M real estate deal gets initial OK”

2022 Monroe County primary election results: As available [final unofficial]

The B Square is on site at Election Central at the corner of 7th and Madison streets in downtown Bloomington where the 28 duffel bags from each of today’s polling locations will be deposited by a bipartisan team of poll workers.

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The polls closed at 6 p.m.

Monroe County clerk Nicole Browne has said no results are anticipated until at least 8 p.m.

The B Square will provide status reports here until the final results are announced.

6:26 p.m. Election Central: No precincts have yet arrived with their materials to report in. Monroe County. Election board members are here as well as election supervisor Karen Wheeler.

The election board has three members: the county clerk (Nicole Browne) and one appointee by each of the two major party chairs. The two appointed members are Democrat Shruti Rana; and Republican Donovan Garletts.

Continue reading “2022 Monroe County primary election results: As available [final unofficial]”

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”

Election 2022 candidate notebook: Three weeks to go, but some races shaping up

Through last Friday, the 2022 candidate filings that have been reported by the Monroe County election division still have gaps for some races.

Monroe County election supervisor Karen Wheeler on Jan. 5, 2022, the first day for candidate filings.

But there are three weeks to go before the filing deadline at noon on Feb. 4.

The B Square maintains a spreadsheet of candidate filings, with links to official government records and news releases issued by candidates.

The topic of voting locations for this year’s elections will be taken up by the county election board at its meeting next week, which is scheduled for Jan. 20 at 1 p.m.

For local offices, one of the two contested primary races so far is to replace Democrat Stephen Galvin as a judge on the Monroe County circuit court.

Galvin is not seeking re-election, and it looks like at least four Democrats will be vying for their party’s nomination in the May primary: April Wilson, Allison Chopra, Emily Salzmann, Karen Wrenbeck.

Official paperwork for a 2022 candidacy declaration is on file for Wilson and Wrenbeck. Chopra and Salzmann have campaign exploratory committee paperwork on file from 2021. A news release from the Monroe County GOP indicated Carl Lamb will be standing as a candidate for the Republicans. That would set up a contested race for judge in November. Continue reading “Election 2022 candidate notebook: Three weeks to go, but some races shaping up”

Day 1 for candidate filings in Monroe County: Some Hoosier Democrats, Republicans make it official

Publicly announced intentions and exploratory committees are one thing. Official candidate filings are another.

Wednesday was the first day when it was possible to declare an official candidacy for one of the state or county public offices up for election in 2022.

Election Central, at 7th and Madison streets in downtown Bloomington, was not exactly teeming with candidate filing activity through the day on Wednesday.

But by 4 p.m. when the building closed, a dozen and a half candidates had made their way through the doors to the building and on to the registration office, which was marked with signage indicating only “one person at a time” should enter. Continue reading “Day 1 for candidate filings in Monroe County: Some Hoosier Democrats, Republicans make it official”