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Council OKs New Townhome Development Near Switchyard Park

A drawing of what the proposed housing development on West Hillside could look like.

The 3.7 acres of property sits just to the north of Switchyard Park along the B-Line Trail. (Courtesy: City of Bloomington)

The Bloomington city council approved a proposal for a new housing development near Switchyard Park at its meeting Wednesday night.

The new development will sit along the B-Line trail as seven separate buildings with 19 townhomes, 104 multifamily residences and over 7-thousand square feet of commercial space.

"This is a great location for more housing because it is in a place where you don’t have to be dependent on a car to get to where you work or play or do your shopping," said councilmember Isabel Piedmont-Smith. "And that's important given our goals for sustainability."

The council has been debating the project for weeks. Councilors concerns have focused on the environmental impact of the project. 

READ MORE: Proposed Housing Development Near Switchyard Park Gets Mixed Reviews

The Bloomington Environmental Commission wrote a memo to the Plan Commission earlier this year stating, "We cannot justify allowing such a change from Bloomington’s vetted regulations with nothing in return to benefit the community’s environmental footprint."

The development fails to meet the standards set in Bloomington's Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) when it comes to impervious surfaces. The UDO states the maximum amount of impervious surface space on a site is 60%, but this site plan would near more toward 80%.

So, in order to pass the measure, the following reasonable conditions were added to the development:

  • Structure height of Building 7 cannot exceed 50 ft. or 4 stories tall
  • Rooftops of all buildings must meet the city's requirements under Cool and Vegetated Roofs
  • Each townhouse building must have a direct sidewalk connection to the B-line Trail
  • Affordable units offered at a 10% lower rate than the Area Median Income (AMI) threshold in the UDO
  • Affordable and market-priced units must be interspersed throughout the buildings and not clustered together
  • Offer on-site parking a la carte and not include parking spaces in the rent
  • Angled parking spaces must be used and a roundabout drive will go on the north end of the site

These reasonable conditions stemmed from discussions during council's Land Use Committee meetings in March that aim to address both the environmental concerns and general details on the affordability component.

"Attached housing is generally a more affordable type of housing. Townhomes are a more affordable type of housing," said councilmember Matt Flaherty. "That’s bore out empirically both locally here in Bloomington as well in national data."

The council unanimously voted in favor of the project Wednesday night. 

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