Schedule of days for UDO hearings set, leaves scant room for other city council business by year’s end

Bloomington’s city council made some progress on Wednesday night towards setting its schedule for hearing, amending and adopting an updated unified development ordinance. cropped udo schedule calendar-4159913_1280The sometimes tedious character of the half-hour discussion on scheduling was summed up by the council’s attorney/administrator Dan Sherman, when he said to the council, “Thank you for entertaining that can of worms!”

One basic feature of the schedule was already known, based on discussion at a work session last Friday: Hearings on revisions to the city’s basic land use document will start on Oct. 16, which is a Wednesday, the usual day for council meetings.

But the start time for Wednesday’s event will be different from regular meetings. It will be called to order at 6 p.m. And it won’t go past 10 p.m.—unless the council votes at the meeting to extend the time, based on how things unfold at the meeting.

The 6 p.m. start time is common to all of the scheduled UDO hearing dates, except for one. How long the other meetings will last, time limits for public speaking turns and time limits for councilmember questions and comments will be decided at the Oct. 16 meeting.

On Wednesday, the council voted to adopt a schedule featuring a dozen dates for work on the UDO update. The first four meetings are devoted to presentation of parts of the updated UDO and public commentary. That is, no amendments will be considered at the first four hearings.

Preliminary UDO hearing schedule

Oct. 16 Chapter 1, Chapter 2, structuring debate
Oct. 22 Chapter 3
Oct. 23 Chapter 4, Chapter 5
Oct. 30 Chapter 6, Chapter 7, consideration of written objections
Nov. 13 Consideration of amendments non-UDO business?
Nov. 14 Consideration of amendments
Nov. 19 Consideration of amendments
Nov. 20 Consideration of amendments
Dec. 04 [6:30 p.m.] Announcement of further UDO consideration? non-UDO business?
Dec. 10 Consideration of amendments
Dec. 11 non-UDO business?
Dec. 12 Consideration of amendments
Dec. 17 Consideration of amendments
Dec. 18 Further consideration of written objections; FINAL ACTION

The schedule is subject to revision by vote of the council. The public can monitor a separate web page set up on the city’s website for scheduling information.

The time allowed for public comment at the Oct. 16 meeting won’t be decided until that meeting. On Wednesday night, councilmember Susan Sandberg, who’s heard the UDO presentations and public commentary as a plan commissioner, weighed in for a five-minute time limit. Parliamentarian Steve Volan cautioned against promising people five minutes and then shortening it to three minutes. He favored following the council’s usual custom of setting the time limit per speaker based on the number of people who showed up to comment.

The plan commission’s 9–0 recommendation to adopt the revised UDO came in late September. The certification of that decision to the council started a 90-day clock ticking for city council action.  The 90-day deadline falls on Christmas Eve.

The council could not start work on the UDO immediately after the plan commission voted—because statutory requirements for noticing have to be met. And the 2020 budget gets a final vote on Oct. 10, which means that demands on the attention of councilmembers are already high around this time.

Subtracting the Thanksgiving break and factoring in the earliest time the council could start work on the UDO, it works out to about two months for consideration of the UDO. That does not leave a lot of extra time for other legislation before year’s end.

At the end of Wednesday’s scheduling discussion, attorney/administrator for the council, Dan Sherman, identified a couple of dates when non-UDO business might be considered. He said the council need to think about what other business it needs to handle by the end of the year. One thing that is required, he said, was handling end-of-the-year appropriation ordinances.

At last Friday’s work session, a couple of different potential topics were floated. One was an ordinance on predatory towing that councilmembers Dorothy Granger and Andy Ruff are sponsoring. Councilmember Chris Sturbaum mentioned the possibility of considering a recent recommendation from the historic preservation commission to establish a new Near West Side Conservation District.

To the list of other legislation the council might need to consider before the end of the year, city attorney Mike Rouker last Friday added a change to the salary ordinance for police officers—in case the city and the Fraternal Order of Police reached had a breakthrough in their stalled talks.

Rouker’s comment at the Friday work session offered at least a faint glimmer of hope for an agreement sometime soon, compared to the bleak picture that was painted at the first reading of the 2020 budget last week. On Wednesday evening, Paul Post, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 88, took the public podium to tell the council that the city had agreed to meet again, but a date was not yet set. Post said that the union had sent an offer that they were prepared to ratify.

At a work session scheduled for this coming Friday, the council will look at another topic that might need to make it into the legislative queue—a proposed planned unit development (PUD) proposed by Hilltop Meadow, LLC on West Allen Street, between S. Strong Drive and S. Adams Street.

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