Bloomington Council To Consider New Conservation District

Residents of Matlock Heights asked the City Council to help them establish their neighborhood as a conservation district to maintain the integrity of the area.

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    Photo: Jimmy Jenkins

    A view from the Southeast corner of the proposed district which aims to prevent further commercial sprawl across the State Road 45/46 bypass

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    One of the ranch-style homes in the Matlock Heights neighborhood that residents are trying to classify as a historical district.

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    Matlock Heights borders a growing commercial area. As the city expands - residents are trying to preserve the character of their neighborhood.

The Bloomington City Council plans to consider a new ordinance tonight that would create a conservation district just north of downtown.

City council member Dorothy Granger says some of her constituents are concerned about increased commercial and residential developments between Dunn and Walnut streets.

“The neighbors have been concerned about the general change in the city and the change in the neighborhoods that are moving toward more dense housing, if you will – typically student housing, rentals and apartment buildings,” Granger says.

Establishing a conservation district is the first step in the process of creating a Historic Preservation District for the area. That would  restrict the changes that could be made to existing structures and  give a Historic Preservation Commission the authority to approve or deny new construction in the district.

Derk Brewer is a home builder who lives in the proposed district. He opposes the ordinance because he says it would limit the options for how he can develop his own property which is already surrounded by rental and commercial developments.

“I would like for it to someday be a commercial use – either torn down – and someone build something on it – or that I could remodel it in a way that would work for someone that would use it in a commercial way,” Brewer says.

Brewer thinks the council is using an ordinance aimed at the protection of historic buildings to stifle growth.

He also says his property is separate from the Matlock Heights neighborhood and he takes issue with the way the boundaries of the proposed district were drawn.

The council will hear testimony during the second reading of the ordinance at next Wednesday’s meeting.

Jimmy Jenkins

Jimmy Jenkins is a multimedia journalist for WFIU and WTIU news. A native of Terre Haute, he is a masters student at the Indiana University School of Journalism and is proud to be a part of the public broadcasting stations he listened to and watched since he was a child. Follow him on Twitter @newsjunkyjimmy.

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