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Bloomington Council Considers Limiting Chain Restaurants

The City Council is considering a resolution that would make it harder for chain businesses to move into downtown cultural districts like Courthouse Square.

Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan is calling on the city council to limit the number of chain restaurants downtown.

The proposed resolution that will be considered at tonight’s council meeting mandates the city’s zoning board maintain a balance of local, regional and national-based businesses in the area that includes the courthouse square down to Indiana Avenue and between 6th and 3rd streets.

It also requires those storefronts be in line with the quote “historic character” of the area.

The resolution is a scaled-down version of a resolution Kruzan proposed in 2009 that was quickly quashed. Kruzan says this year’s proposal is not a ban. He says it’s about increasing protections for already-designated cultural areas.

“Do you think an Arby’s, locating on the 4th street restaurant row would change the nature of that location? Do you think that having an Applebee’s in the middle of Kirkwood would change the uniqueness of that important street?” Kruzan said.

Kruzan says he expects some split feelings on the proposal.

He says there are some people who think government shouldn’t be imposing additional regulations on private businesses, but he also says there are some local businesses who feel crowded out by chains.

Susan Bright, co-owner of Nick’s English Hut on Kirkwood Avenue, doesn’t think chain businesses present themselves in quite the same way local ones do.

“We’d prefer to have as many local establishments surrounding us as possible,” she says.

The council will also discuss a proposed ordinance that would create a Habitat for Humanity of Monroe County development near the north end of the B-Line Trail.

The project would include building 35 homes on almost seven acres of undeveloped land south of the intersection of Diamond Street and West Cottage Grove Avenue, near the B-Line Trail.

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