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Bloomington City Council Finishes First Round Of UDO Amendments

Agendas

(Mitch Legan, WTIU/WFIU News)

The Bloomington City Council finished discussing the first round of amendments to the proposed Unified Development Ordinance at Tuesday night’s special session.

The UDO is the document that determines the rules for land use and development in Bloomington.

The Council adopted five amendments and dispatched 10 other changes with a unanimous consent agenda.

A handful of people were in attendance for the remaining First Round amendments, which were some of the least controversial.

Multifamily "plexes" still came up, though, as one of District 1 Councilmember Chris Sturbaum’s proposed amendments would have made fourplexes, multifamily dwellings and live/work dwellings in Residential Multifamily (RM) districts conditional use, as opposed to permitted use, which is automatic.

Sturbaum said he was concerned allowing fourplexes in the RM district would make it indistinguishable from the Residential High-Density Multifamily (RH) district, which acts as a transition between lower-density districts and downtown.

“There are a lot of still remaining single-family homes in the RM district,” Sturbaum says. “There are a lot of remaining structures that are single-family in appearance and some of the large modifications that are now allowed in RM might need a little more review than by-right. I think the people who live in RM would like a little more review of whatever can happen.”

Bloomington resident David Keppel says the amendment seems to go against the Council's agreement to prohibit new plexes in core neighborhoods and instead focus density elsewhere.

“Now, I think we need to hear the other side of that equation [of prohibiting plexes],” Keppel says. “Which is the urgency for affordable, sustainable, dense housing. And the districts other than the core districts are where there seem to be a consensus we could move forward. So I urge the Council to reject this amendment and facilitate dense housing in these other areas of the city.”

Councilmember Isabel Piedmont-Smith (District 5) said she felt the amendment shouldn’t have been introduced.

“Frankly, we already went through an excruciating process with plexes that – against my better judgement – I voted against the plexes,” Piedmont-Smith says. “And I thought we had laid this to rest. I, personally, am disappointed that he [Councilmember Sturbaum] brought this forward at all. Because I thought during that whole debate, which was agonizing, we had agreed that multifamily districts are the places for plexes. And now to make it a conditional use is a slap in the face.”

The amendment failed, 1-7.

Councilmember Stephen Volan (District 6) also introduced an amendment that would reduce parking requirements for new developments, among other things. But some on the Council and in the Planning and Transportation Department said they felt it was overly broad. Volan withdrew it after some deliberation so he could reintroduce it with next week’s Second Round amendments.

The Council discussed eight other amendments:

  • Amendment 40: Reduces the maximum height of R2 buildings from 40 feet to 35 feet – FAILED
  • Amendment 47: Gives architects more creative freedom when designing mixed-use and nonresidential buildings – PASSED
  • Amendment 48: Adds new subsections requiring inclusion of at least two elements of universal design in certain multifamily residential buildings, student housing and dormitory buildings – PASSED
  • Amendment 50: Makes changes to the landscaping lists to identify evergreens, to remove poor quality/invasive species, or to add new species – PASSED
  • Amendment 51: Allows fences with a maximum height of eight feet along the frontage of the secondary front building wall in R3 districts to be built to the property line, except under certain circumstances – FAILED
  • Amendment 52: Removes the reference to the use variance process in affected sections – PASSED
  • Amendment 53: Specifies machinery such as HVAC equipment, ventilation and generators, and engines that service buildings and other structures are subject to noise control regulations contained in Bloomington Municipal Code Chapter 14.09 – WITHDRAWN
  • Amendment 57: Provides a revised definition for fraternity or sorority House – PASSED

The Council has about 12 second round amendments to discuss next week before it moves on to technical amendments.

It has meetings scheduled on Dec. 10 and 12 to discuss those amendments.

Councilmember Allison Chopra (District 3) was not present at Tuesday's meeting.

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