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White Place neighbors ask Bloomington council to address zoning issues

1 White Place
McLean County Assessor's Office
Nine units are planned at 1 White Place, which neighbors say would violate city code.

Residents of the White Place neighborhood in Bloomington are asking the city council for what they say is overdue help.

Eight people from the neighborhood came to Monday night’s meeting to give public comments. The issue pertains to 1 White Place, a property that has been vacant for more than 20 months. The property owner, in the process of preparing the home for new residents, initially told White Place residents it would house four units. He later told them it would be nine.

That led to the request for a zoning hearing by the city from those living in White Place. It never happened, they said. The concerns are primarily about congestion and an inadequate number of parking spaces, said neighborhood member Janine Toth.

“Both of these issues create unsafe population density for the building, and public health, safety and welfare for the entire area,” said Toth.

The unoccupied nature of the building for over a year also is a problem, said neighbors, adding code states that any residence left vacant for more than 12 months must abide by the zoning rules. But that’s not the case with 1 White Place.

Carolyn Jarvis, a White Place resident for 45 years, said children’s safety is another concern. She cited an increase in traffic causing danger for children. Jarvis said 12 to 14 young children often run around the southeast quadrant of the neighborhood. Increased traffic there could cause problems.

“My concern is [having] a safe place for the children to play without being worried about cars,” said Jarvis.

Council members John Danenberger of Ward 4 and Mollie Ward of Ward 7 both said they would like to add the issue to a future council agenda.

Public Works department split into three

In another matter, the council approved splitting the public works department into three separate departments. The water and public works departments were rolled into one in 2018, but will now be apart again — this time, with a third department being created.

That third department is the Department of Operations & Engineering Services. Deputy City Manager Jeff Jurgens said bringing in engineers is crucial.

“There are very few projects that we don’t need one of our engineers to be touching, looking at, assisting us with, so that’s a very important division within our city,” said Jurgens.

He said engineers are hard to come by. The department is calling for nine engineers and nine engineering techs to be on staff. Jurgens said the hope is that no jobs will be lost in the division of departments. All it will change are employees’ “focus and change some of the reporting structure,” he said.

The council voted unanimously to approve the public works split.

In other business, the council:

— Approved a decision to obligate $5 million in funding from the Rebuild Illinois grant to extend Hamilton Road from Bunn Street to Morrissey Drive.

— Approved spending $184,000 to replace sidewalks, curbs and gutters in Wards 6 and 7.

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Jack Podlesnik is a student reporter and announcer at WGLT. He joined the station in 2021.
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