Tuesday, January 22, 2008

BPNA Meeting, 1/22/08

Bryan Park Neighborhood Association
Meeting Agenda

January 22, 2008
Free Methodist Church
7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Call to Order, Introductions and sign up sheet

Old Business
1. CONA report – Eve Corrigan
2. Update on dog bag dispensers – Jan Sorby/Liz Brown
3. Sidewalk Update – Jan Sorby / Jane Walters

New Business
1. Guest Speaker -- Nancy Hiestand, Historic Preservation Commission
2. Ways to improve our neighborhood????


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Surveying Our Options

OK, imagineers, put on your thinking caps. What would you do—and not do—with a decommissioned church in the middle of a residential neighborhood?

Jan Sorby, BPNA president, reports that a number of prospective buyers of the former Church of Christ at the corner of Davis and Washington have approached her to ask what redevelopment options the neighborhood would consider appropriate.

“I can tell you what I think,” Sorby tells them, “but to be fair, let’s take a survey of the neighbors to get broader input—especially from people who would be impacted by parking and traffic near their homes.”

The people living nearby are not the only ones who will be affected by the outcome, however. Sorby says, “There is a bigger issue here than just the adaptive re-use of a single property. We all have to start thinking about how we want our neighborhood to evolve. This is a core neighborhood, close to downtown, and attractively priced. It will change. Whether it does so at random or by design is up to us, to a certain extent.”

Another church could take over the building and its current commercial zoning without change. Bloomington’s Uniform Development Ordinance permits various conditional uses of property in neighborhoods like this, zoned single-family residential—for example, churches, schools, and home-based businesses (e.g., a photographer’s studio, an accountant’s office, in-home day care).

With a variance, the property might be used for business offices rented to non-resident professionals or business owners. In addition, decommissioned churches across the country have been converted into condominiums, performance space and galleries, yoga centers and spas, and many other uses.

To let your voice be heard, call Sorby at 334-2075 or send an email to jansorby@sbcglobal.net. Your identity will be kept confidential unless you direct otherwise.

From January 2008 BPNA Neighborhood News

Can History Repeat Itself?

Lisa Abbott, head of Bloomington’s Housing and Neighborhood Development department, addressed BPNA’s January 22nd meeting on the subject of historic preservation. It was not a talk just for antiques collectors. Reflecting on the process whereby McDoel Gardens Neighborhood became the city’s first conservation district, Abbott answered questions about what their example might mean for the Bryan Park neighborhood.

McDoel’s preservation effort “has increased property values by one-third since the conservation district process began,” as Carrol Krause reported in the Herald Times on November 17 last year. In the process, the balance shifted from rentals to residences. “Instead of being 60% tenants, McDoel is now 60% owner-occupied.

Running south of the hospital along the Rogers St. corridor to Patterson, McDoel Gardens is a district of modest homes, many of them bungalows. The neighborhood sought conservation status because the hospital and medical providers were buying up and demolishing houses, Abbott said. Conservation status offered demolition protection and allowed the neighborhood to define guidelines ensuring that new construction was compatible with the characteristic look of the neighborhood.

North of the hospital along Rogers is Prospect Hill, a locally designated historic district. Prospect Hill neighbors are now applying for conservation status under Indiana law, Abbott said. Two or three other neighborhoods in the city are considering doing the same. This is a long and labor-intensive process, Abbott cautions, involving:

· Taking an architectural inventory of all housing in the area to be covered

· Defining and justifying the district boundaries and writing a history

· Making formal application to the Historic Preservation Commission, which votes on whether to approve the petition

· Making the case to the City Council

· Informing every property owner of the pending decisions and their implications

At each stage of the process, public meetings are held to gather input and discuss the issues involved. If conservation status is granted, the decision is revisited in three years. At that time, a referendum is held to decide whether to keep the conservation status, discontinue it, or upgrade to historic preservation status under state and federal law.

Jan Sorby, BPNA president, says, “It is significant that many core residential neighborhoods are looking at conservation status as a way of gaining protections not offered by the city real estate code. Core neighborhoods also lack the protection provided by covenants in suburban subdivisions. It is up to us to take control of our fate, and this is one way to do it. This was our first meeting about conservation status, but it won’t be the last. Everybody’s input is wanted, if only to determine whether the neighborhood association should commit the time and energy required to become a conservation district.”

From January 2008 BPNA Neighborhood News

Eating Out "Back in the Day", by Mary Lou Mitchell

In the 1940’s there were several restaurants in our area, but only two within walking distance. Coleman’s Grill at 1025 S. Walnut specialized in 50 cent T-bone steaks. The Friendly Café at108 W. Grimes was more of a sandwich shop. The other restaurants were out on South Rogers and South Walnut. Many of them located close to the RCA plant, at the southwest corner of Grimes and Patterson, to get the lunch trade.

All of these were fairly small, mainly because most people didn’t “eat out” much then.

The South Rogers Street restaurants were Bob’s Grill (at 1313), Bruner’s Restaurant, later the Candle-Lite Inn (1205), Friendly Corner (901), Grandma’s Grill, also Bob’s (1313), Carl E. Jewell (1217), Midway Inn (2014), Purity Café (1217). White’s Lunch (618) and the Wigwam (610).

On Walnut there were Gib & Denzil’s Café (at 920), Leonard’s Café (918), Parkway Grill (525), the Penguin, now known as the Chocolate Moose (404), Raney’s Cafeteria(346), and South Side Café (1500). Pictured in the photograph are the Dairy Bar (519) and High School Sweet Shop (521) on South Walnut back in the day when Bloomington High School was located in what is now Seminary Park.

The Parkway, Dairy Bar, Penguin and the High School Sweet Shop (later called Kutche’s) were close to Bloomington High School. Kutche’s was the boys’ hangout and the Parkway was the girls’ hangout. A girl stepped in the door once at Kutche’s, and she was run out. The Dean of Students used to stand in the window to see if the boys were going over to Kutche’s, which had pinball machines. When he saw them, he would use the intercom call them back.

We’re all hoping that when the Hillside commercial buildings are finished there will be a small restaurant or diner or deli where we can walk to for a lunch or early dinner. These are usually very casual and a good place to meet friends and neighbors.

From January 2008 BPNA NEighborhood News

Templeton-Shalom Family Resource Center - Events

Cereal Club: Mondays, 10:00-12:00pm at the Shalom Family Room in the First Christian Church, corner of Washington & Kirkwood. This playgroup offers cereal and books to ALL families in Monroe County.

Preschool Story Hour: Mon., Jan. 28, 10:00-11:00am in the Templeton Media Center.

Friday Play Group: Every Friday, 9:00 -11am in the Templeton cafeteria. Parents - Enjoy other adults and play with your children!

Say it in Spanish: Every Thursday 9:30-11:30 at the MCPL. Spanish for preschoolers and caregivers through songs and activities.

Free Family Market: Every Friday, 2:00-3:30pm in the Templeton cafeteria. Diapers, fruits, veggies, basic food items. Open to ALL families, not just Templeton families.

From January 2008 BPNA Neighborhood News

Quick Updates to Oct. 2007 News Items

Land use variance denied. The Bloomington Zoning Authority (BZA) voted against the variance requested by Dee Harlow (see the October 2007 issue). The BZA ordered the properties brought into compliance with code.

Seeking funding. The BPNA is seeking a Small and Simple Grant from the city to upgrade the dog-waste bag dispensers.

Fund-raising completed. Thanks to the property owners on Henderson, funds were secured for repairs to the historic limestone sidewalks on Henderson.

Safe Routes grant received. In mid-November 2007, the City received a $250,000 Safe Routes to School grant to build a sidewalk along the west side of Henderson St., from Allen St. to Hillside Dr. and the crossing to Templeton School. BPNA is very pleased with the preliminary engineering plans, with a few reservations about pedestrian safety. For details, see “BPNA Response” at http://www.bloomington.in.us/~bpna/sidewalk.htm.

Zoning changes on S. Washington. As reflected in the new zoning code, a number of multiple-occupancy properties reverted back to single-family homes as a result of sales and discontinued rental use.

Snow busters. If you need help shoveling your sidewalk or if you want exercise while helping your neighbors on snowy days, contact us for a match-up.

For more information, contact Jan Sorby, BPNA President, at jansorby@sbcglobal.net

From BPNA Neighborhood News, published January 2008

Daycare Operator Seeks Use Variance

On September 10, 2007, the Planning Commission heard a request for a variance from the city’s land use code entered on behalf of two childcare operations—Dee’s Little Darlin’s daycare and High Achievers preschool—on South Stull Street. Dee Harlow, the founder, runs both operations from two adjacent properties in this core residential neighborhood. She added a second story to one house under a residential permit last year in preparation for creating the preschool and adding clients. She resides in neither house.

This is at the heart of the land use issue, because City ordnances allow home-based daycare operators to care for a maximum of 16 children. Commercial daycare operators have no residency requirements and no specific maximum—but must be situated in a place that is zoned commercial. If the residency requirement were upheld, Harlow would be limited to providing care for 32 children. If the variance were granted, removing the 32-child limit, the properties would be re-zoned commercial in perpetuity, because the variance attaches to the property deed.

Jan Sorby, president of the Bryan Park Neighborhood Association, spoke against granting the variance because of the impact that increased traffic and inadequate parking would have on neighbors. Like other neighborhood residents who spoke at the hearing, Sorby expressed concern that uncertainty over future commercial uses would lower property values.

“Core neighborhoods are especially susceptible to inappropriate land use because we don’t have sub-division covenants that protect us. We must rely on the enforcement of Bloomington laws for our protection. Disregarding this law essentially encourages spot zoning,” Sorby said. “In particular, this area is one of the last remaining affordable housing areas in a core neighborhood and needs protection for that reason. The City’s Unified Development Ordnance (UDO) explicitly ‘discourag[es] the conversion of dwellings to multifamily or commercial uses.’”

There is no question of closing down the childcare operations, just of the enrollment limit and bringing the properties into compliance with requirements (for example, for sidewalks and fire sprinklers). The childcare and preschool have a good reputation, and everybody involved in the hearings—from parents in daycare to the BPNA and the City Council—heartily endorsed the value of the service that Harlow provides. The variance request will go before the Bloomington Zoning Authority (BZA) on October 18, at 5:30 pm in the Showers Building. Everyone is invited to attend and to provide their own perspective on the land use issue.

From BPNA Neighborhood News, published October 2007