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”

Bloomington city council votes to repave College Mall Road on split vote

At its regular meeting Wednesday night, Bloomington’s city council voted to approve an appropriation ordinance that includes, among other things, a reclassification of funds to pay for a repaving of College Mall Road.

The project, which extends between 3rd Street and Moores Pike, is planned for later this summer.

The vote, which was split 6–3 on the nine-member council, came as the clock ticked towards 10:30 p.m., about four hours after the meeting started.

Dissenting on the vote were councilmembers Steve Volan, Matt Flaherty, and Kate Rosenbarger.

The meeting was fraught with procedural wrangling that could be traced to lingering discord from the beginning of the year over the establishment of four-member standing committees of the council.

In the end, the council’s action on Wednesday provided funding for two street projects, which are supposed to start this summer. One is a repaving project—College Mall Road, southward from 3rd Street to Moores Pike.

The other project includes improvements to the intersection at Sare Road and Moores Pike and construction of a multi-use path south of there. Continue reading “Bloomington city council votes to repave College Mall Road on split vote”

Bloomington council committee digs into road funding to weigh repaving of College Mall Road against other transportation goals

A Wednesday meeting of the Bloomington city council’s four-member transportation committee has set up the full council for a possible animated discussion next week.

On the council’s May 20 agenda will be an item related to funding for the repaving of College Mall Road between 3rd Street and Moores Pike.

The agenda item is a hearing on an appropriation ordinance that includes the College Mall repaving. The appropriation also includes some fund transfers that are needed for a couple other transportation projects.

The other projects involve intersection improvements at Sare Road and Moores Pike, and a multi-use path to be built on the west side of Sare Road south of that intersection.

The May 20 meeting could also include a final vote on the appropriation ordinance, which got a first reading on May 6.

On Wednesday, the committee gave the appropriation a mixed reaction. Continue reading “Bloomington council committee digs into road funding to weigh repaving of College Mall Road against other transportation goals”

Plan commission OKs common council amendments, so Bloomington now has transportation plan

At its Monday meeting, exactly eight months after Bloomington’s plan commission gave its initial approval of the city’s transportation plan, commissioners approved 40 amendments to the plan made by the common council.

Replacement Photo Transportation Plan Amendments -- Return to Plan Commission - Packet
Example of one common council amendment to the transportation plan, swapping out an image for typical cross section for Suburban Connectors with one that shows three extra feet for protecting bicycle lanes.

The transportation plan, with final approval from the plan commission, now replaces the 2002 Master Thoroughfare Plan and the 2008 Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation and Greenways System Plan.

No one from the public offered comment Monday night. The plan had previously been scrutinized by the public and the common council in a process that began in late 2017.

The common council adopted the 40 amendments at its May 22 meeting. Because the proposed transportation plan changed after the plan commission’s initial approval, the amendments were back in front of the commission for its consideration on Monday.

At the meeting, plan commission chair Joe Hoffmann drew out the fact that the plan commission could object to some or all of the amendments, and send their objections back to the common council, but as a practical matter, under state statute, it is the common council that has the last word on it. Continue reading “Plan commission OKs common council amendments, so Bloomington now has transportation plan”