The Bloomington Planning Department laid out their priorities for the coming years at the second night of annual city budget hearings.
Bloomington Planning Director Tom Micuda says the main concern he’s hearing is how increasing student housing construction over the past decade has changed the character of the downtown.
Micuda says he’s hearing that people want a more diverse downtown with more seniors, more people who are in the workforce and more people who have affordable housing needs. But the question is how to do it.
“What we know from experience is in order to create non-student markets, which are the most lucrative, is you have to provide financial incentive,” says Micuda.
Micuda says that means securing commitments from different levels of government such as Tax Increment Financing or tax abatements to promote diverse growth.
He says a lot of people would like to see more zoning restrictions to limit student housing development, but that’s not necessarily the best way to grow.
“What we’re hearing a lot of is how do we discourage student housing,” says Micuda. “I would be more interested in a discussion about how to encourage other forms so we can kind of even out the market.”
The Planning Department requested $1.3 million for their 2014 budget. Micuda said the continuation of the city’s comprehensive development plan, entitled “Imagine Bloomington,” is his department’s number one priority.
Micuda says other priorities include updating a metropolitan transportation plan that would encompass all city and county transit systems as well as increasing Bloomington’s League of American Bicyclists rating from silver to gold by more aggressively promoting the city’s bicycle education and safety programs.