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What Changes Could Be Coming In Bloomington's Revised UDO?

A screenshot of Bloomington's revisedUnified Development Ordinance map.

(Courtesy: City of Bloomington)

Bloomington's Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) zoning map has been revised since the city hosted a series of public discussions in late 2020.

Jackie Scanlan hosted those discussions and virtually sat down this week to talk about the potential changes as a part of our City Limits project.

READ MORE: City Releases Revised Version Of Its Unified Development Ordinance Map

The UDO is a fluid document that sets Bloomington’s zoning regulations and land use laws on private property. It can be changed each year based on priorities in the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

"It's how the community envisions itself over the next 25 to 30 years, and then uses that guiding document to update zoning code," Scanlan said.

During 2020's public discussions, several residents were engaged in the revision process.

"People are worried about their properties and the idea of change can be scary," Scanlan said. "Especially here in Bloomington and other college towns, where people often look at things from the lens of the undergraduate student renters."

The change that had several residents worried in this new UDO was the complete repeal of single-family housing to allow for duplexes and triplexes in many core neighborhoods. These areas are categorized as R4 zones and it covered a substantial portion of the proposed map this past fall and winter.

"By adding additional housing options to those areas, we are addressing those issues raised in the Comprehensive Plan about increasing equity in a way that could increase our sustainability and encourage more residents in the future," Scanlan said. 

This is not the first time the city has tried to incorporate plexes into the UDO. An added amendment was on the table for city council back in 2019, but the council voted it down due to strong public resistance.  

Chris Sturbaum was on city council representing District I at the time. He told City Limits back last December that he was surprised to see the amendment resurface after hundreds of people showed up at public hearings to oppose it in 2019. 

READ MORE: What Is The Plex Amendment? Bloomington's Changing UDO, Explained

“From the very beginning we resisted this plan to up zone these neighborhoods, at least the majority of us did. So, we thought that was decided. I lost an election and now new start of the year, it’s back," Sturbaum said. 

But after hearing the public’s concerns during this latest round of changes, Scanlan said the newly revised UDO map that was released last week shows a significant decrease in R4 zones.

Scanlan said the rollback of these particular zones decreased by about 75%.  

"We’re starting slower than we had originally intended to make sure that it can be done in a sensitive way that doesn’t harm the neighborhoods," Scanlan said. 

She said another measure taken to preserve the neighborhoods was making all plexes a conditional use. This means each duplex or triplex must be approved on a case-by-case basis by the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals.   

"What we’ve done is target some key areas on the edges or in nodes of the community that seem to make sense if we’re going to try to have the inclusion of these buildings that have more units," Scanlan said. 

The map and all proposed changes and amendments will move to the Plan Commission on March 8. 

"What we’ve published is what we think will go to Plan Commission. There could be small changes or additions, but we don’t expect that to happen," Scanlan. 

Scanlan said members of the public still have time to submit feedback until the meeting. 

After the Plan Commission approves the series of 10 ordinances that make up this UDO, along with added amendments, it will be up to the city council to cast a final vote on all changes in April. 

Have a question? Ask City Limits:

Our community is changing, from closing businesses to traffic and road construction to affordable housing, and we see the impact of these changes all around us.

We want to know: What questions do you have about how the Bloomington of tomorrow will impact your work, your personal life, your community and your future?

Here’s how it works: You submit a question you’d like us to explore about how Bloomington has changed over the past few decades, what you want to see for the city in the future and how ties with IU continue to shape the community.  

So: What do you wonder about how Bloomington is changing and how it impacts your life?

Interested in an ongoing conversation how Bloomington is changing? Join our Facebook group!

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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