Bloomington city council approves resolution limiting chain restaurants

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BLOOMINGTON (March 5, 2014) — Indiana University, Restaurant Row, Kirkwood Avenue — those are just a few things that come to mind when you think of Bloomington. City leaders hope to protect that character in parts of downtown.

The city council approved a resolution that would make it harder for chain restaurants to open near the Courthouse Square and University Village overlays Wednesday. City leaders stressed it is not a ban, but would require restaurants to apply for a conditional use permit.

The issue is a watered-down version Mayor Mark Kruzan introduced back in 2009, but was voted down. With several properties on the market now, Kruzan believes it’s important to maintain a balance of local and national restaurants.

“The community’s uniqueness that’s at stake,” said Kruzan. “That is exactly why people come to Bloomington. It’s a destination attraction. To essentially homogenize that, that would make it less so.”

The issue sparked a two-hour debate at City Hall.  Opponents criticized the city for overstepping its boundaries. Some worry if the proposal could impact tax revenue, and discriminate against chain restaurants.

“This seeks a solution to a problem that doesn’t even exist,” said Liz Irwin, Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce Director of Advocacy & Public Policy. “Placing additional controls on actual markets fluctuations and unnecessary restrictions on business would cause an uncertainty and would detract with the appeal of doing business in Bloomington.”

Some restaurants tell FOX59 they value the spirit of the resolution. Nick’s English Hut doesn’t believe the resolution would impact their business.

“Too much legislation is too much legislation,” said Gregg Rago, Nick’s owner. “The people of Bloomington have already spoken over the generations.”

The resolution now moves to the Planning Commission for further review. City leaders will discuss the issue at their next meeting on March 10.

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