Bloomington homeowner demolishes home despite historic protections
UPDATE: The City of Bloomington Planning and Transportation Department has issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) of municipal zoning ordinance to the owners of the property
BLOOMINGTON, Ind.– A Bloomington homeowner took matters into his own hands and demolished his home despite the Bloomington Historic Preservation Commission asking him not to.
The demolishment happened last month, and the commission wasn’t too happy about it. The home was located on the 500 block of West Seventh Street since the 1880s.
“This is a signature house that showed this is how people used to build a Scotch Irish house 200 years ago before they even came to America,” Councilman Chris Sturbaum said.
Chris is a councilman for the district and part of Bloomington’s Historic Preservation Commission. He says the homeowner came to them and asked to demolish it.
“He said well it’s in terrible shape. There’s a tragic family story involved with the murder of someone in that house; his relative. So, they wanted nothing to do with it,” Sturbaum said.
He says the commission knew there was a compelling story to take it down. Yet, there was a compelling story to keep it.
“We had to do our job which was to say we speak for the long period of history and for the future so that someone else can see this,” Sturbaum said.
He says the owner decided to tear it down despite what the commission voted on.
“He found out we made a mistake by not enacting this protection and he went ahead and did it. You pay the ticket and pay the fine. He knew the fine was limited,” Sturbaum said.
We reached out to the homeowner but didn’t get a response back.
It’s been 15 years since the city had seen a quote “hostile demolition.” Chris says the homeowner found a loophole.
“We got complacent because people have been so cooperative for so long. We didn’t expect it and didn’t cross our t’s and dot our i’s,” Sturbaum said.
Chris says while it’s upsetting the home is gone, they will keep preserving the thousands of other historic homes in Bloomington.”It isn’t that house itself. It’s the way 390 houses sit together with each other and have for 120 years,” Sturbaum said.
Last week the Historic Preservation Commission voted to place the entire near west side neighborhood under interim protection so no one else can demolish a home without getting in serious trouble.