On a 7–1 vote at its Monday meeting, Bloomington’s plan commission recommended a new zoning map for the city that includes several areas designated as R4 (Residential Urban) and MS (Student Housing) districts.
Those are two zoning districts that were newly defined in the unified development ordinance (UDO) that was adopted by the city council in 2019, but not yet placed on the zoning map.
The zoning map ordinance would also change more than 100 planned unit developments (PUDs) to a basic zoning district.
Dissenting on the vote was the city council’s representative to the plan commission, Susan Sandberg. The 7–1 tally did not add up to 9, because commissioner Israel Herrera had to leave the meeting early, to attend to another commitment.
Bloomington’s plan commission has set up Thursday’s 5:30 p.m special session as a meeting dedicated to just one of 10 ordinances currently under consideration to amend the city’s unified development ordinance (UDO).
The ordinance would revise the way the UDO handles duplexes, triplexes and quadplexes—the so-called “plexes.”
One sign that Thursday’s public hearing is expected to be contentious was some encouragement on Monday from plan commission president Brad Wisler: “I would just ask everybody to come armed with patience.”
The plan commission normally allows five minutes to each public commenter. During discussion towards the end of Monday’s meeting, plan commissioners were inclined to allow the full five minutes at Thursday’s hearing. The other option batted around was to suspend the rules to reduce the time to three minutes.
In the current version of the UDO, no plexes are allowed at all in the R1 (residential large lot), R2 (residential medium lot) or R3 (residential small lot) zoning districts. That’s the result of a November 2019 vote taken by Bloomington’s city council, to remove even the conditional use of duplexes in those residential zoning districts.
The ordinance to be considered by the plan commission on Thursday would allow duplexes as a conditional use in R1, R2, R3, as well as in the new R4 (residential urban) district.
R4 has not yet been placed anywhere on the zoning map. R4 would also allow triplexes and quadplexes, but also just as conditional uses. The mapping of R4 is a step that will be handled in a separate ordinance, currently scheduled to be heard on Monday, March 29.
In under three hours on Monday night, Bloomington’s plan commission dispatched five recommended ordinances that revise the text of the city’s basic land use document, which is the unified development ordinance (UDO).
That sets the stage for the two most controversial parts of the project. On Thursday night, the plan commission will take up proposed changes to the UDO to allow for duplexes, triplexes and quadplexes in some parts of the city where they are not currently allowed. And possibly as soon as next Monday (March 29), the plan commission will consider a revision to the city wide zoning map.
On Monday the plan commission recommended ordinances to the city council that, if adopted, would have several different effects. Here are some highlights.
By-right accessory dwelling units (ADUs) would not require neighbor notification.
A restaurant of up to 5,000 square feet would be possible in a mixed-use employment (ME) zone.
Parking maximums for medical clinics would increase from 3.3 to 5 spaces per 1,000 square feet of floor area.
A shelter for people experiencing homelessness would not require residents to live as a single housekeeping unit.
All of the urban agricultural land uses that are currently allowed in the residential estate (RE) district would be allowed in the new (residential large lot) R1 district.