Century Village rezoning request gets OK from plan commission, heads to city council for approval

The site of the controversial Century Village 590-bed student housing project on the east edge of town, denied by the city council two years ago, got a positive recommendation from Bloomington’s plan commission on Monday night—for a rezoning from planned unit development (PUD) to mixed-use corridor (MC).

At its final meeting of the year, the city’s plan commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the requested rezoning of about 10 acres of land near the intersection of SR-46 and SR-446.

A conceptual site plan that accompanied the rezoning request shows multi-family housing to be constructed in four buildings with a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments adding up to around 168 units, with about 240 bedrooms. The conceptual site plan is not a part of the recommendation from the plan commission.

The question that will now be put in front of the city council will be the same one considered by the plan commission: Should the land be rezoned from PUD to MC?

Once the zoning is in place, a site plan that conforms to the new zoning could eventually be approved just by the plan commission. Because a site plan that meets zoning requirements doesn’t require a change to local zoning code, it would not need approval from the city council.

In 2018, the land was proposed for a student-oriented housing development that would have included 590 bedrooms. The question in front of the city council at the time was a revision to the existing PUD zoning to allow for greater density.

According to the meeting minutes of Nov. 14, 2018, the city council voted down the rezoning at 1:32 a.m. on a tally of 0–8 with one abstention, from then-councilmember Chris Sturbaum.

The request to rezone the property comes in the context of a more general effort by the planning staff to rezone PUDs by applying standard zoning districts. A PUD is a kind of custom zoning district.

The rezoning of several PUDs is a part of the general zoning map revision process that the planning staff is currently undertaking.  A proposed map revision will likely land in front of the plan commission in the second half of January. It’s hoped that the city council might act on it by summer.

As part of the planning staff’s general proposal, the Century Village PUD is recommended to be rezoned as MC in any case.

Michael Carmin, attorney for petitioner Bill Brown, told the plan commission on Monday night that while a site plan is not required, he thought it would be useful to offer a conceptual site plan, because the city council has historically wanted an idea of what’s coming.

Carmin called the site plan still “rough” and still inadequate in some ways, but not set in stone.

Conceptual site plan for Century Village rezone proposal from the Dec. 14, 2020 plan commission meeting information packet.

It’s representative of the kind of development that would likely go there, Carmin said, because “we have someone identified who wants to do this.” Carmin added, “So that’s pretty close.”

If early next year, the city council approves the rezoning recommended by the plan commission on Monday, that would put a developer a few months ahead of the game, compared to waiting for city council action on the general map revision.

Zoning planner Ryan Robling, who is case manager for the rezone petition, laid out for plan commissioners why he thinks the area should be rezoned to mixed-use corridor (MC). He pointed to the comprehensive plan, which designates most of the site as “urban corridor” on the land use map, with some “neighborhood residential” on the southern part.

According to Robling, the lines and edges in the
comprehensive plan are intended to be fluid. Because the site sits along two major corridors—SR-46 and SR-446—the “urban corridor” best suits the parcels, Robling said.

The “urban corridor” land use has several goals, Robling said, including transforming urban corridor areas away from strip retail and toward more urban mixed-use designs, integrating multifamily residential uses into existing commercial uses.