Bloomington planning department wraps up rezoning public sessions, sets up plan commission debate in early 2021

Last week, Bloomington’s planning staff hosted two more public sessions by video conference, about possible changes to the city zoning map as well as the text of the unified development ordinance (UDO).

The UDO was repealed and replaced last year amid an acrimonious community-wide debate. Proposed changes to the zoning map were expected this year, as some newly created zoning districts R4 (residential urban) and MS (mixed-use student) appeared only in the text, but not on the map.

Not necessarily expected was a reconsideration of the text, affecting which residential districts allow for duplexes, triplexes and four-plexes. That was a main point of friction last year.

Residents of older neighborhoods who opposed the idea of plexes as allowable uses where they live, question the re-introduction of the issue, just a year after the city council voted 6–2 against plexes, even on conditional use, in R1, R2 and R3 neighborhoods.

Part of the message from planning staff over the last few weeks of video conferences with the public has focused on the preliminary nature of these late-year information sessions.

“We are not even in the public hearing process yet at all,” said Jackie Scanlan, who’s development services manager for Bloomington’s planning department. She added, “We are just in an information gathering process. We put out ideas. We are taking feedback on those, so that we can craft a draft zoning map and text amendment.”

The timeline calls for a proposal to land in front of the plan commission in the second half of January and get consideration by the city council in late March. Continue reading “Bloomington planning department wraps up rezoning public sessions, sets up plan commission debate in early 2021”

Déjà Duplex: Text amendment included in zoning map process would allow plexes in all areas zoned for residential use

A screenshot of a story map to proposed zoning changes that could eventually wind up in front of the Bloomington plan commission and city council in 2021. Image links to the UDO Zoning Map: Public Outreach Draft webpage.

A press release issued Thursday afternoon by the city of Bloomington announced the start of a public engagement process to revise the zoning map of the city.

Action by the plan commission and city council is not scheduled until 2021.

Substantive revisions to the zoning map were the next, expected step after the final adoption of a new unified development ordinance (UDO) earlier this year. The UDO revision created some new zoning categories, among them “mixed use student housing” or MS. That’s a category that could make it onto the zoning map ahead of other new categories, because a specific development is requesting a rezone to that category.

But the general approach is not to wait for specific requests for rezoning to put the new zoning categories from the UDO onto a map of the city. That’s why the public engagement process announced on Thursday was not a surprise.

Also making it an expected bit of news is the fact that the current IU Health hospital on 2nd Street will be redeveloped as something other than a hospital, when the new facility opens out on the SR 46 bypass. The 24-acre site will be handed over to the city in late 2021 by Indiana University Health in a $6.5 million real estate deal. That means a probable rezone from MH (mixed-use health care) to something else, like MN (mixed-use neighborhood scale).

Not necessarily expected as a part of the public engagement process is the re-opening of the kind of question that led to acrimonious community debate last year over the question of duplexes, triplexes and quads in core neighborhoods of the city.

But one of the issues the public will be asked to think about again, according to the city’s press release is “Adding ‘plexes’ as a housing option in all districts that allow residential uses.”

It’s not the same proposal that was considered last year as a part of the UDO, the city’s development development services manager Jackie Scanlan told The Square Beacon. “The plexes proposal is different from the previous proposal.” She added, “We are planning to prepare an exhibit to compare the proposals.”

The first public engagement meeting is five days away, set for Oct. 27 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. by Zoom video conference. Details are supposed to be posted on the project website: UDO Zoning Map: Public Outreach Draft. Continue reading “Déjà Duplex: Text amendment included in zoning map process would allow plexes in all areas zoned for residential use”

UDO Update: Bloomington’s plan commission OKs city council amendments, elects officers, moves Trinitas PUD forward

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Jillian Kinzie adds the vice president tab to her nameplate, a position on Bloomington’s plan commission to which she was elected Monday night. (CATS screen grab)

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.

The Trinitas development proposes to include 387 housing units, with a total of 825 bedrooms and 458 parking spaces. Trinities is proposing to turn over to the city 45 single-family lots to be used was whatever housing the city sees fit. Continue reading “UDO Update: Bloomington’s plan commission OKs city council amendments, elects officers, moves Trinitas PUD forward”

UDO Update: Text finalized after final skirmish on parking mins, effective date depends on map adoption

Bloomington’s city council voted 9-0 on Wednesday night to approve an update to its unified development ordinance (UDO), which is the basic zoning and land use document for the city.
Continue reading “UDO Update: Text finalized after final skirmish on parking mins, effective date depends on map adoption”

UDO Update: Bloomington city council poised Wednesday for UDO adoption after final four amendments

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

After the last of the four amendments are considered on Wednesday, the council will consider the UDO, as amended, for final adoption. That comes after consideration of 72 proposed changes to the document that the city’s plan commission had recommended in late September on a 9–0 vote. Continue reading “UDO Update: Bloomington city council poised Wednesday for UDO adoption after final four amendments”

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

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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.
Continue reading “UDO Update: City council OKs amendments impacting driveways, payment-in-lieu, ranch porches”

UDO Update: Last proposed amendments to updated zoning include increased height for R4, timeline for payment-in-lieu procedures

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Illustration of building forms for the new R4 (residential urban) zoning district in the update of Bloomington’s unified development ordinance.

This Tuesday’s special session of Bloomington’s city council could wrap up the last of 69 numbered amendments to be considered to the update of the city’s unified development ordinance (UDO).

The council started considering UDO amendments in mid-November, during special sessions dedicated just to such amendments. Continue reading “UDO Update: Last proposed amendments to updated zoning include increased height for R4, timeline for payment-in-lieu procedures”

UDO Update: Height limit for residential single-family stays 40 feet, multi-family use still permitted in multi-family zones, parking maxes same

Bloomington’s city council dispatched with 20 more amendments to the updated unified development ordinance (UDO) on Tuesday night. That brought the total to almost 60 since the council started convening some sessions in mid-November dedicated only to UDO amendments. Continue reading “UDO Update: Height limit for residential single-family stays 40 feet, multi-family use still permitted in multi-family zones, parking maxes same”

UDO Update: Dec. 3 amendments include height and parking maximums, conditional use for some multi-unit dwellings

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A revised figure to illustrate how building height is measured in the unified development ordinance. The image is proposed to be inserted in place of a previous one so that it’s clearer how building height is measured.

Cued up for the Bloomington city council’s consideration next Tuesday are 20 more amendments to the draft update to the unified development ordinance, which is the city’s basic zoning and development document. Continue reading “UDO Update: Dec. 3 amendments include height and parking maximums, conditional use for some multi-unit dwellings”

UDO Update: How payment-in-lieu of building affordable housing could still be in the mix

The first two days of the Bloomington city council’s work on amendments to the unified development ordinance update were dominated by two contentious questions.

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Screenshot of extracted transactions for Bloomington’s housing development fund from the city’s online financial portal.

Should duplexes and triplexes should be allowed in core neighborhoods? Should accessory dwelling units should be subject to the conditional use public process?

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.

But the council’s decision was disappointing to the city’s administration. Responding to a query from The Beacon, Bloomington’s communication director, Yaël Ksander, said, “The City plans to work with Council to suggest they reconsider PIL as a viable option…” Continue reading “UDO Update: How payment-in-lieu of building affordable housing could still be in the mix”