Monroe County commissioners reject another residential development south of Bloomington: “This is a lot of housing on not a lot of space.”

Sample designs for paired townhomes in proposed Southern Meadows.

On Wednesday, Monroe County commissioners rejected a request for a rezone of 37 acres south of Bloomington for a housing project called Southern Meadows, a proposed development of 95 paired townhomes for a total of 190 housing units.

In that configuration, a townhome sits on its own lot with its own yard, and shares a wall on one side with its neighbor.

It’s the second time in about a month that county commissioners have turned down a rezone request in the Clear Creek area, south of the city of Bloomington boundary, but inside an area that’s a part of the current Bloomington annexation proposal.

In mid-May, commissioners rejected the rezone request for a much smaller proposal called Clear Creek Urban, just to the east of the Southern Meadows parcel.

Clear Creek Urban was mixed-use residential proposal that would have a developed a 4-acre parcel with five residential and commercial buildings that called for 31 new residences. The Clear Creek Urban petition, brought by Blind Squirrels, LLC, would have constructed attached townhomes, multi-family residences, and commercial space.

Blind Squirrels gets a mention in the meeting information packet about Southern Meadows, because of an easement granted by the owner of the smaller parcel to allow for access from Southern Meadows to the east-west That Road.

For both projects the stumbling block was density. As president of the board of commissioners Julie Thomas described the Southern Meadows project on Wednesday: “This is a lot of housing on not a lot of space.” Continue reading “Monroe County commissioners reject another residential development south of Bloomington: “This is a lot of housing on not a lot of space.””

Bloomington paves way for park-side mixed-use residential project with rezone for warehouse

At its Wednesday meeting, Bloomington’s city council approved a rezone request that will allow the redevelopment of a warehouse—two-thirds of it, anyway—that sits just to the west of Switchyard Park and the B-Line Trail.

The approved rezone was a change to the existing planned unit development (PUD)—which would allow a seven-building mixed-use project to be constructed, with more than 200 bedrooms and up to 10,000 feet of commercial space.

The vote on the council was 9–0.

Councilmember Dave Rollo said, “I think that this is an excellent development. I think it’s actually a precedent-setting redevelopment.” Rollo added, “It’s sort of a setting-of-the-bar example, in my mind, of what to see in redevelopment petitions.”

The project associated with the rezone request would require the demolition of the southern two-thirds of the warehouse, which is the part controlled by McDoel Business Center owner Tom Brennan. The project also includes a parcel not in the footprint of the warehouse, on the south side of Hillside Drive, which is now a surface parking lot.

In place of the warehouse, and the parking lot, Brennan would like to construct seven buildings. A bedroom count  of 215 was provided for the seven buildings in the preliminary plan, which was included in the addendum to Wednesday’s city council information packet. Of the 215 units, 15 percent are required to be “affordable.” Continue reading “Bloomington paves way for park-side mixed-use residential project with rezone for warehouse”

Bloomington council says no to corridor zoning for 87-acre parcel

A requested rezone for 87 acres of land at the southern tip of Bloomington, next to I-69, was rejected by Bloomington’s city council at its meeting last Wednesday.

The requested rezone by owner Bill Brown—from PUD (planned unit development) to MC (mixed-use corridor)—was based on the idea that it would improve the marketability of the land, which has sat undeveloped under its current zoning for more than three decades.

The vote on the nine-member council was 1–7. Ron Smith’s was the sole vote of support. Steve Volan abstained when the roll was called. Continue reading “Bloomington council says no to corridor zoning for 87-acre parcel”

Proposed redevelopment of warehouse across from new Bloomington park sets stage for debate on density and green space

Image is from the Pictometry module of the Monroe County online property lookup system. The red outline shows the part of the warehouse that is part of the rezone request.

The warehouse across the B-Line Trail from the pickleball courts in Bloomington’s new 65-acre Switchyard Park is the subject of a rezone request that landed in front of the city council last Wednesday.

The project associated with the proposed rezone would require the demolition of the southern two-thirds of the warehouse, which is the part controlled by McDoel Business Center owner Tom Brennan.

The associated project would construct seven buildings containing a total of 19 townhomes and 104 multi-family apartments.

Last week’s city council meeting was just the occasion for the first reading of the rezone. So it didn’t get any action from the city council other than a referral to the council’s land use committee.

The land use committee is chaired by councilmember Isabel Piedmont-Smith. She weighed in during public commentary at the plan commission’s early-January hearing on the requested rezone. That likely foreshadows at least some of the committee’s deliberations—on the question of greenspace. Continue reading “Proposed redevelopment of warehouse across from new Bloomington park sets stage for debate on density and green space”

Century Village gets rezoned on 7–2 vote as Bloomington city council debates question: Who is saying college students are not people?

A rezoning for a 10-acre parcel of land on the east edge of town, at the intersection of SR-46 (3rd Street) and SR-446, has been approved by Bloomington’s city council.

The council’s approved rezoning, which had been unanimously recommended by the plan commission, changed a planned unit development (PUD) to a mixed-use corridor (MC) district.

It’s the same zoning change recommended as a part of the citywide zone map revision project, which will land in front of the plan commission in early March. So the council’s approval on Wednesday could be analyzed as enacting something a few months earlier than might have been enacted anyway.

The impact of the zoning decision is that any proposal for a specific project that conforms with MC zoning, will be reviewed only by the plan commission, not by the city council.

Dissenting were Dave Rollo and Kate Rosenbarger.

Continue reading “Century Village gets rezoned on 7–2 vote as Bloomington city council debates question: Who is saying college students are not people?”

Monroe County commissioners OK rezone, which could mean 330 more housing units on edge of Bloomington

The property that was rezoned by county commissioners sits just on the boundary of the city of Bloomington. It’s a part of Area 1A that was included in the city of Bloomington annexation proposal in 2017, which was suspended by the state legislature. (Image links to dynamic map)
This aerial image, which is dated April 2020, is from the Pictometry module of Monroe County’s online property lookup system.

A rezoning for 38 acres of former farmland on the western boundary of Bloomington was approved at the regular Wednesday meeting of Monroe County commissioners.

That clears the way for the developer to submit to the county planning department a site plan for a development that would include 330 new apartments. The development, by Domo Development Company and Redhawk Multifamily, is also planned to include 11,000 square feet of retail and 22,000 square feet of private office suites.

Even if the final approval for the project is not done, the major hurdle of the zoning has been cleared.

On the housing side, the proposed rental unit mix will be 10 percent studios, 50 percent 1-bedroom, 35 percent 2-bedroom, and 5 percent 3-bedroom units, according to the meeting information packet. The projected rent will range between $875 and $1,500 a month. Continue reading “Monroe County commissioners OK rezone, which could mean 330 more housing units on edge of Bloomington”

Leftover rezone request for warehouse next to Switchyard Park to start Bloomington plan commission’s year

A mixed-use development with 123 residential units, 184 parking spaces and 7,000 square feet of commercial space might be replacing the southern two-thirds of the warehouse just north of Hillside Drive next to Switchyard Park.

The development would also stretch south of Hillside Drive by one parcel.

To make a residential project possible at that location would require a rezone from the existing planned unit development zoning (PUD). The request is to maintain the PUD designation, but use different development standards from the existing PUD. A PUD is a kind of custom zoning, which includes its own custom development standards.

In December, plan commissioners voted unanimously to continue their deliberations until January, even though they appeared inclined to send the rezone proposal to the city council, with a positive recommendation.

A main sticking point for the city’s planning staff appeared to be the way townhomes are proposed to be oriented to the park. As the city’s development services manager Jackie Scanlan put it when she commented on the project renderings: “When you look down the sides of these buildings, you can tell that these are the sides of buildings, and we would prefer that they look like the front of buildings.”

Planning staff wanted to make sure that the development standards of the proposed PUD rezone—that is, the written narrative—require that the townhomes present their fronts to the park. An alternative to written development standards would be renderings that show townhomes facing the park.

That means the rezone request is set to be considered again by Bloomington’s plan commission at its first meeting of the year, on Jan. 11. Continue reading “Leftover rezone request for warehouse next to Switchyard Park to start Bloomington plan commission’s year”

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. Continue reading “Century Village rezoning request gets OK from plan commission, heads to city council for approval”

Bloomington zoning map revision process headed towards up-down city council vote in first half of 2021

Public engagement for Bloomington’s zoning map revision process is underway, with three Zoom video-conference meetings now in the books and at least three more now listed on the city’s zoning map project page.

The image alternates between dark gray districts, which are currently zoned PUD, and the colors of the districts to which they’re proposed to be rezoned. The image links to the PUD story map created by the city’s planning staff.

Two meetings are scheduled that will each combine two controversial topics. The first topic is where to put the newly defined R4 district on the map. The second topic is possible changes to the text of the unified development ordinance (UDO), to allow for duplexes, triplexes and four-plexes in all the residential areas of the city.

The first of the R4-“plexes” meetings is set for Thursday this week, starting at 5:30 p.m. The project page also includes a link for a 9 a.m. Thursday “office hour” with a city planner, who will be available to take questions.

Where R4 (Residential Urban) districts are placed on the zoning map is controversial because R4 includes duplexes, triplexes and four-plexes as by-right, permitted uses, which some residents are opposed to allowing in areas that have up to now allowed only single-family houses.

Another way that “plexes” could be added to older neighborhoods is through a text amendment to the UDO that would change the allowed uses for R1 (Residential Large Lot), R2 (Residential Medium Lot), and R3 (Residential Small Lot) districts. Those districts would be changed to allow “plexes” as permitted or conditional uses.

One significant detail about the eventual process—which has emerged over the first set of meetings—involves the lack of flexibility that city councilmembers will have when the map revision reaches them for consideration next year.

Responding to a question to planning staff and the legal department from The Square Beacon, planning and transportation director Scott Robinson said that the city council will have just three options after it receives a recommended map from the plan commission: (1) adopt the proposal; (2) reject the proposal; (3) do nothing for 90 days. If the city council does nothing, the plan commission’s recommendation is enacted automatically.

That means the city council can’t amend the map, then adopt its amended map.

That’s different from changes to the text in the unified development ordinance. The city council could make amendments to the proposed changes to the text recommended by the plan commission, and adopt those changes as amended. Continue reading “Bloomington zoning map revision process headed towards up-down city council vote in first half of 2021”

Habitat for Humanity site plan OK’d by Bloomington plan commission: 69 new houses

At its regular monthly meeting on Monday, Bloomington’s plan commission approved a site plan for Osage Place, which is a Habitat for Humanity project that will put 69 houses on a nearly 13-acre parcel in the southwest part of town, just east of the RCA Community Park.

The plan commission had in June recommended the rezoning that was necessary to make the project possible.

And in August, the city council followed the plan commission’s recommendation, granting the rezoning approval.

The lot will get subdivided into 76 lots with 69 lots for single-family houses and seven lots for common areas.

According the meeting information packet, Habitat houses are built with volunteer labor and tax-deductible donations of money and materials. The houses are then sold to low-income families who make between 25 and 80 percent of the area median income (AMI).

At Monday’s plan commission meeting, Nathan Ferreira, who is director of land development and production for Habitat for Humanity of Monroe County, described the mission of Habitat for Humanity as “eliminating poverty housing by building decent, affordable homes in partnership with qualified families.”

The local Habitat organization was founded in 1988, Ferreira said, and is now wrapping up the construction of a house that will bring the total number of houses built locally to 211. That translates into about 800 people housed, more than half of them children, Ferreira said. Continue reading “Habitat for Humanity site plan OK’d by Bloomington plan commission: 69 new houses”