At a meeting that took less than an hour Monday evening, Bloomington’s plan commission voted unanimously to approve the version of the updated unified development ordinance (UDO) that the city council adopted last year.
Commissioners also elected officers. Brad Wisler will continue as president, and Jillian Kinsey will serve as vice president.
The plan commission also sent a proposed planned unit development, from Trinitas Development, to the city council with a unanimous positive recommendation. The proposed project is on 39.29 acres on West 17th Street, southeast of the I-69 and SR 46 interchange.
On Tuesday this past week, Bloomington’s city council dealt with 11 amendments to its unified development ordinance (UDO). They were thought to be the final amendments to the UDO. The first of the council’s special sessions devoted specifically to UDO amendments took place on Nov. 13.
But the council’s work on the update to the city’s basic planning and zoning document is not quite done.
Four new amendments appear on the council’s agenda for its final session on the UDO. Three are technical or semantic in character, but one is substantive. The substantive amendment, sponsored by councilmember Piedmont-Smith, would allow a flat-roofed building in a residential district, if the building has more than 1,000 square feet of gross floor area.
The final UDO session will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 18—just before the last regular city council meeting of the year. Other scheduled sessions on the UDO have been cancelled
Both questions related at least indirectly to the issue of the availability and affordability of housing. The council chambers were packed each night.
The following week, the council’s docket started off with another amendment related to the affordability of housing.
Sponsored by councilmember Isabel Piedmont-Smith, Amendment 08 changed the planned unit development (PUD) qualifying standards, by eliminating the option for a developer to donate a sum to the city’s housing development fund, instead of building income-restricted affordable units on site as a part of the project.
PUDs are projects that depart significantly enough from existing zoning standards that they require their own custom zoning, which means that unlike by-right projects, they have to win approval from the city council.
The UDO update builds a 15-percent affordable housing requirement into the qualifying standards for a PUD. So elimination of the payment-in-lieu option means that the only way a PUD could be approved without including affordable units as a part of the project is through waiver of the PUD qualifying standard.
Judged by the smattering of attendees at the following week’s meeting, and the council’s 8–0 vote, the amendment on payment-in-lieu (PIL) for PUDs was not controversial.
Allison Chopra voted against bigger projection signs.
Examples of projection signs on Walnut between Kirkwood and 6th Street from 1963.
Steve Volan sponsored the successful projection sign amendment.
Bloomington’s city council handled a half dozen more amendments to the update of its unified development ordinance on Wednesday night, approving four out of six.
Three of the approved amendments relax restrictions on large, generally flattish objects: solar panels, fences, and signs. The other amendment approved by the council prohibits “eyebrow” street designs.
Getting support from only one other councilmember besides its sponsor, Chris Sturbaum, was an amendment that would have added structures that have “contributing” status in historic districts to those that are subject to a demolition delay if someone proposes a partial demolition.
The final amendment that the council could have considered was withdrawn. It would have prohibited fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides within a drainage easement. That would have made it a stronger requirement than state law, which the city can’t do, according to its sponsor, councilmember Isabel Piedmont-Smith.
At Wednesday’s meeting the council voted to add an additional meeting to its calendar for Dec. 3, to handle around 20 additional UDO amendments that were already submitted by the council’s first deadline in early November.
Already on the council’s schedule are meetings for Dec. 10, Dec. 12 and Dec. 17, with a final vote on the amended UDO possible on Dec. 18.
On Tuesday night, Bloomington’s city council dispatched about a dozen amendments to its draft unified development ordinance, setting itself up for a realistic shot at handling all the amendments released so far by the end of its Wednesday session.
Several amendments were adopted by unanimous votes, including one that removes an option for payment-in-lieu of providing income-restricted housing onsite, as part of the public benefit for a planned unit development.
The idea is that developers should incorporate affordable housing into a project, instead of donating a sum to the city’s housing development fund, which the city could then use to build affordable housing elsewhere.
Rejected with support only from its sponsor, councilmember Chris Sturbaum, was an amendment that would have required new buildings to “step back” not just from those with ratings of “outstanding” and “notable,” but also those with ratings of “contributing.”
The most contentious issue of the night was one involving a pair of conflicting amendments on parking minimums, the first sponsored by Sturbaum and the second by councilmember Steve Volan.
Neither amendment passed. Volan’s amendment might have had a chance if the council had been at its full complement of nine members, but failed on a 4–4 tie.