Bloomington moves to dismiss 2 of own lawsuits as legal tactic to push annexation trial ahead

Ten days ago, the city of Bloomington lost an argument in court, to move ahead with the standard judicial review of annexation for two areas west of town.

The shading on the map reflects a 1-dot-per-person plot based on the population of census blocks as measured in the 2020 decennial census.

Two days later, on Sept. 7, the city of Bloomington filed a motion to start the process to appeal the ruling of special judge Nathan Nikirk, out of Lawrence County.

Nikirk had ordered that the standard annexation trials for Area 1A and Area 1B would be delayed, until Bloomington’s related but separate litigation—over constitutional questions related to annexation waivers—is resolved.

The related constitutional litigation is actually a consolidation of seven separate lawsuits, one for each of the annexation areas.

In addition to the appeals process, the city of Bloomington has now started another procedure that could lead to faster scheduling of a standard annexation trial for the two areas. The idea is to take a step towards quick resolution of the related constitutional litigation—but just for Area 1A and Area 1B.

On Wednesday, Bloomington’s legal tactic was to file a motion to dismiss its own lawsuits for Area 1A and Area 1B, over the constitutional question of waivers.

The idea is that if the special judge Kelsey Hanlon out of Owen County were to grant Bloomington’s motion for dismissal of the Area 1A and Area 1B constitutional cases, and agrees to reconsolidate just the five remaining lawsuits, that would satisfy the condition of Nikirk’s Sept. 7 order. Continue reading “Bloomington moves to dismiss 2 of own lawsuits as legal tactic to push annexation trial ahead”

Bloomington starts abatement of Washington Street property owned by would-be mayoral candidate

Around 9 a.m. on Wednesday, employees of an independent contractor hired by the city of Bloomington started removing “garbage” from the South Washington Street property owned by Joe Davis.

They were accompanied by staff from the city of Bloomington’s Housing and Neighborhood Development department, an assistant city attorney, and some police officers who were on civil standby.

The group of contractors and city officials were there to enforce an abatement order that had been approved on March 14 by Bloomington’s three-member board of public works.

Some of the material was removed on Wednesday morning, but by noon the abatement team had left the property with most of their work still unfinished.

Later in the day on Wednesday, Davis filed an appeal of a Tuesday court ruling that had not gone his way.

Earlier this year, Davis gathered signatures in support of an independent mayoral candidacy, but fell 14 short of qualifying for the ballot.

It’s not clear when the abatement efforts will resume.

Remaining in Davis’s backyard are some stacks of lumber, a working washing machine, a van with a trailer, and a truck with boards and other materials stacked on them, pieces from a rooftop antenna, and some pieces of scaffolding, among many other things. Continue reading “Bloomington starts abatement of Washington Street property owned by would-be mayoral candidate”

Disputed plan commission seat: Judge denies Bloomington’s bid to get case dismissed

Ten days ago, on Aug. 5, a hearing was held about Bloomington’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit that could affect the membership the city’s plan commission.

Greene County Courthouse Screen Shot 2020-08-05 at 12.25.18 PM
Greene County courthouse, Bloomfield, Indiana, the home court of special judge Erik Allen, and the scheduled location of the Aug. 5 hearing. The hearing was switched to a telephonic conference. Image links to image source, which is Google Street View.

On Friday (Aug. 14), special judge Erik Allen issued an order that lets the lawsuit go ahead.

Allen denied Bloomington’s motion to dismiss the case in a 125-word order that included a lifting of a previously imposed stay on the discovery process. That means both sides can now proceed with document requests and deposition of witnesses.

On one side are Monroe County GOP chair William Ellis and his pick for city plan commissioner, Republican Andrew Guenther. On the other side is Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, with his pick, Republican Chris Cockerham.

For now, it’s Cockerham, a commercial real estate broker, who serves in the disputed seat. It became vacant at the start of the year when Bloomington’s mayor John Hamilton decided not to re-appoint Nick Kappas to the plan commission. Continue reading “Disputed plan commission seat: Judge denies Bloomington’s bid to get case dismissed”