On votes that were taken on five different days, starting on May 4, Bloomington’s city council has approved an ordinance that changes the status of duplexes in the basic law of land use in the city.
The final vote came on Thursday (May 13).
In the course of its deliberations, the council considered five different amendments to the ordinance.
Two of them were successful—the one making duplexes a conditional use, instead of a permitted use (Am 02), and the one that imposed a cap of 15 duplexes per year and a two-year 150-foot buffer around parcels that are granted a conditional use permit (Am 03).
Instead of being disallowed in the central residential districts of the city (R1, R2, and R3), duplexes will now be allowed, but subject to a review by the board of zoning appeals for a conditional use permit.
The final amendment—to add consideration of undue impact of traffic to criteria to be considered for granting a conditional use permit (Am 05)—failed on a 3–6 vote. Only Dave Rollo, Susan Sandberg and Ron Smith supported it.
On a 7–1 vote at its Monday meeting, Bloomington’s plan commission recommended a new zoning map for the city that includes several areas designated as R4 (Residential Urban) and MS (Student Housing) districts.
Those are two zoning districts that were newly defined in the unified development ordinance (UDO) that was adopted by the city council in 2019, but not yet placed on the zoning map.
The zoning map ordinance would also change more than 100 planned unit developments (PUDs) to a basic zoning district.
Dissenting on the vote was the city council’s representative to the plan commission, Susan Sandberg. The 7–1 tally did not add up to 9, because commissioner Israel Herrera had to leave the meeting early, to attend to another commitment.
The lack of any development on the site during that time has led owner Bill Brown to ask for a rezoning of the land, from the current planned unit development (PUD) district to mixed-use corridor (MC).
At a plan commission meeting in late 2020, Michael Carmin, who represents Brown, said he’s been approached for possible development of a hotel in the southwest corner of the property, next to I-69. He’s also been approached to develop a large part of the property as a training center for fire and emergency services.
The proposed rezone will find its way in front of the city council in a few weeks.
At their January meeting, commissioners voted affirmatively 6–2–1 to send the rezone request to the council with no recommendation. It’s not a common move, but plan commission president Brad Wisler said at the commission’s January meeting he thinks it’s been done before.
The city planning staff recommended denial of the rezoning based on the city’s comprehensive plan, which calls for the area to be an employment center.
The split vote reflected disagreement among the commissioners about how to signal their intent to the city council—about which they had a general consensus.
They did not think the proposal from Brown should be adopted in its current form. But they did not want the city council to see a recommendation of denial from both the plan commission and the plan staff, and because of that, let the proposal die without some additional consideration.