UDO Update: City council OKs amendments impacting driveways, payment-in-lieu, ranch porches

cropped Am 60 illustration R1
A drawing that helps illustrate the change to setbacks for front-loading garages, which had an impact on the length of driveways. 

The penultimate batch of amendments to Bloomington’s updated unified development ordinance (UDO) were dispatched by the city council in less than 90 minutes on Tuesday (Dec. 10).

The council handled 11 amendments on Tuesday, six of them on a consent agenda.

That sets the stage for final adoption of the UDO on Wednesday, Dec. 18, after four additional amendments are heard. The four new amendments are likely to be non-controversial.

An amendment that relaxed setback requirements for front-loading garages or carports passed Tuesday on a 5–2 vote. Councilmembers Jim Sims and Susan Sandberg opposed it. Sims said he didn’t think the additional regulation was necessary.

The possibility of shorter driveways, which reduces the amount impervious surface, even if incrementally, was something that councilmember Andy Ruff cited as a reason he supported the amendment on setbacks. (Allison Chopra and Chris Sturbaum were absent for the whole meeting. Steve Volan left before the session finished.)

Also not achieving a unanimous vote was an amendment on a timeline for finalizing administrative procedures to handle payments-in-lieu of building affordable housing on a project’s site. The tally was 5–0–1, with Granger abstaining.

While the city council previously approved an amendment that eliminates payment-in-lieu for planned unit developments (PUDs), such payments are still a part of the mix for other proposed projects. Among other incentives, a project is allowed an extra floor of height compared to the prevailing zoning standard, if 15 percent of its units are restricted to renters making 120 percent or less than the annual median income.

Granger abstained from the vote on payments-in-lieu, saying she opposes such payments generally. That’s because she thinks that affordable housing should be mixed in with other units as part of a proposed project.

Piedmont-Smith, who sponsored the amendment that eliminated PIL as an option for PUDs, said she hoped that the clarification of the formulas in the administrative procedures would eliminate the perception that the PIL option amounted to a “pay to play” arrangement.

Assistant director of planning and transportation, Scott Robinson, said it was not clear clear which city board or commission would be responsible for reviewing and making recommendation or adopting the calculations in the administrative procedures on PIL. But he said he didn’t think it should be the plan commission.

Robinson was lukewarm to the idea, floated by councilmember Susan Sandberg, that the vetting of PIL calculations be done by a not-yet-formed housing commission. A housing commission is recommended by the city’s comprehensive plan to be established, Sandberg said.

An amendment suggested by Barre Clapper, with Springpoint Architects, was sponsored by councilmember Dave Rollo. For housing types like ranches, Rollo said, the UDO, as written, would prohibit adding porches. The amendment, Rollo said, would allow a small, 6-foot-wide porch. It’s something that’s often requested as an improvement, because typically a ranch has a front door that opens directly into a living room, Rollo said. The amendment passed on a 6–0 vote.

Another amendment that sailed through Tuesday with little discussion, on a 6–0 vote, was a proposal from councilmember Isabel Piedmont-Smith, to increase from 35 to 40 feet the height limit in the newly created, but not yet mapped, R4 district. The change makes the height limit the same as in the R4 R1 and R2 districts.

Here’s the full slate of 11 UDO amendments that appeared on the Dec. 10, agenda with links to the spot in a single .pdf file where they appear:

  • Am 60 (CM Piedmont-Smith) – Affects 20.02.020 & Table 2-2, Table 2-3, Table 2-7, and Table 2-8 – Adjusts and potentially reduces the length of driveways in some residential zoning districts by amending building setbacks for attached front-loading garages or carports.
  • Am 61 (CM Piedmont-Smith) – Affects 20.02.020(e)(2) & Table 2-6 – Increases the maximum primary structure height in R4 Zoning Districts from 35 feet to 40 feet.
  • Am 62 (CM Sandberg and staff) – Affects 20.03.020 & 20.03.030 – Adds a new Use-Specific Standard under 20.03.030(b)(10) for Fraternity or Sorority and makes adjustments to Table 3-1 to reflect the added standard.
  • Am 63 (CM Rollo) – Affects 20.04.020(e) – Amends Table 4-6 (Authorized Exceptions to Setback Requirements) to add a row for Front Entry to allow an exception for a maximum of 6 feet for those kinds of street side additions which do not exceed one third the width of the main portion of the house.
  • Am 64 (CM Rollo) – Affects 20.04.110(c)(7)(B) – Clarifies that a timeline should be set for implementation of payment-in-lieu definitions and procedures, and that these procedures should be publicly available.
  • Am 65 (CM Rollo) – Affects 20.04.110(d)(1) – Recognizes the need for rehabilitation of existing structures toward improved sustainability.
  • Am 66 (CM Rollo) – Affects 20.04.110(d)(2)(A)(iv) – Specifies when roofs containing vegetation must meet landscaping guidelines to qualify for certain incentives.
  • Am 67 (CM Rollo) – Affects 20.04.110(d)(2)(A)(v) – Makes clear that on-site solar photovoltaic systems may exceed the minimum requirements for the sustainable development incentive.
  • Am 68 (CM Rollo) – Affects 20.04.120(b)(1) – Adds plant material on vegetated roofs to the maintenance responsibilities of developers and their successors, and includes vegetated roof infrastructure as an example of applicable landscaping structures.
  • Am 09-R (CM Volan and staff) – Affects 20.03.030 & 20.07.010 – Creates a definition for cooperative housing, revises the definition of family, and adds use-specific standards related to cooperative housing land use.
  • Am 69 (CM Rollo) – Affects 20.07.010 – Deletes the definition for “Green Building Worksheet” because the term is not used in the UDO.

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