Monroe County commissioners reject another residential development south of Bloomington: “This is a lot of housing on not a lot of space.”

Sample designs for paired townhomes in proposed Southern Meadows.

On Wednesday, Monroe County commissioners rejected a request for a rezone of 37 acres south of Bloomington for a housing project called Southern Meadows, a proposed development of 95 paired townhomes for a total of 190 housing units.

In that configuration, a townhome sits on its own lot with its own yard, and shares a wall on one side with its neighbor.

It’s the second time in about a month that county commissioners have turned down a rezone request in the Clear Creek area, south of the city of Bloomington boundary, but inside an area that’s a part of the current Bloomington annexation proposal.

In mid-May, commissioners rejected the rezone request for a much smaller proposal called Clear Creek Urban, just to the east of the Southern Meadows parcel.

Clear Creek Urban was mixed-use residential proposal that would have a developed a 4-acre parcel with five residential and commercial buildings that called for 31 new residences. The Clear Creek Urban petition, brought by Blind Squirrels, LLC, would have constructed attached townhomes, multi-family residences, and commercial space.

Blind Squirrels gets a mention in the meeting information packet about Southern Meadows, because of an easement granted by the owner of the smaller parcel to allow for access from Southern Meadows to the east-west That Road.

For both projects the stumbling block was density. As president of the board of commissioners Julie Thomas described the Southern Meadows project on Wednesday: “This is a lot of housing on not a lot of space.” Continue reading “Monroe County commissioners reject another residential development south of Bloomington: “This is a lot of housing on not a lot of space.””

Monroe County officials apologize: Change to denser zoning went through automatically when 90-day window was missed

A 5.34-acre parcel just south of Bloomington, where just a single house stands, now has the right zoning for the eventual construction of a couple dozen residences.

The developer is Charles Layne LLC with Bynum Fanyo & Associates as the engineering consultant.

In Monroe County’s zoning scheme, the parcel has been rezoned from Estate Residential I (REI) to High Density Residential (HR). The old zoning allowed for just one residence per acre. The new zoning, with some commitments made by the developer, makes for a density of around 4.2 residences per acre.

The news of the rezoning was announced at Wednesday morning’s regular meeting of Monroe County’s board of commissioners. It came with apologies all around.

The Holland Pines rezoning was not the result of a decision made by the three commissioners. It was due to a missed deadline. Continue reading “Monroe County officials apologize: Change to denser zoning went through automatically when 90-day window was missed”

77 more Bloomington bedrooms: Johnson Creamery downtown residential project gets plan commission OK

Looking west? Johnson Creamery Rendering
Rendering of project with view to the west. The B-Line Trail is in the foreground.

A new mixed-use building just off the B-Line Trail to the north of the Johnson Creamery building—with its landmark smokestack—got a 9–0 approval from Bloomington’s plan commission Monday night.

The five-story building will include 27 studio, 22 one-bedroom, 5 two-bedroom, and 6 three-bedroom apartments for a total of 77 bedrooms.

The interior parking area for the project will include 38 spaces. Continue reading “77 more Bloomington bedrooms: Johnson Creamery downtown residential project gets plan commission OK”

Analysis: Next verses of crescendoing UDO debate cued up for Nov. 13 city council meeting

UDO art Screen Shot 2019-11-13 at 1.23.23 PM
The notes are unaltered. The lyrics to the local university’s fight song have been amended to achieve a humorful effect. 

Put in orchestral terms, starting Wednesday night at 6 p.m., Bloomington’s city council president Dave Rollo will conduct a political choir of sorts. Not everyone will be singing from the same song book.

On the council’s agenda are proposed amendments to a proposed update to the unified development ordinance (UDO), which is the city’s basic land use and development policy document. Presentation to the council of the draft UDO update has already stretched across four separate evenings recently, starting with the first one on Oct. 16. It was followed by meetings on Oct. 22, Oct. 23 and Oct. 30.

The UDO draft update was recommended for approval by the plan commission’s 9–0 vote on Sept. 23.

The crucial concept that has created community-wide discord is density: How concentrated should living arrangements be in different parts of the city? The four proposed amendments that are first in numerical sequence on the council’s agenda all deal with density.

An amendment co-sponsored by Rollo and councilmember Chris Sturbaum would revise the plan-commission-recommended UDO draft so that the use of property as duplexes and triplexes in core neighborhoods would be prohibited.

A competing amendment from councilmember Steve Volan would remove the “conditional use” requirement for duplexes and triplexes that’s in the UDO draft. That means a required public review process would be eliminated, but the use-specific standards for the plexes would remain. The use-specific standards include a maximum number of total bedrooms: six for duplexes and nine for triplexes.

The use-specific standards for plexes are the subject of two amendments put forward by councilmember Isabel Piedmont-Smith. One of the amendments would reduce the maximum bedrooms to four bedrooms in duplexes and six bedrooms for triplexes.

Piedmont-Smith’s amendments could be described as an attempt to achieve some harmony between the outright prohibition of plexes in core neighborhoods and the current UDO draft, which allows them under the conditional use requirement of a public review process. Continue reading “Analysis: Next verses of crescendoing UDO debate cued up for Nov. 13 city council meeting”