Bloomington council backs Habitat neighborhood

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The Bloomington City Council is giving permission to a Habitat for Humanity group to build a neighborhood with 35 homes.

Council members voted unanimously early Thursday to approve the proposal from Habitat for Humanity of Monroe County for the 7-acre development on the city's northwest side. The Herald-Times reports the vote came after several hours of discussion about conditions for the project, including a requirement for PCB testing.

Councilman Marty Spechler said he supports the project because the city desperately needs more affordable housing.

"It meets a community need that has long plagued Bloomington. We are the least affordable place to live in the State of Indiana," group president Kerry Thomson said.

Some residents have opposed the plans, raising worries about losing one of the city's last wooded areas.

The nonprofit group's plans include building new streets and a greenspace, but there are some environmental concerns that need to be addressed before crews break ground.

The soil in the area has been known to contain harmful chemicals known as PCBs. While the City Council is confident PCBs don't exist there, they demanded testing before giving the project unanimous approval.

Officials said they want to be sure the area they are building on is as safe as possible.

Once the testing is complete, and if the PCB testing comes back negative, construction is expected to begin this summer.

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