In more than a year since Bloomington mayor John Hamilton signed revisions to the city’s unified development ordinance (UDO) into law, just one application to construct a duplex as a conditional use has been heard by the city’s board of zoning appeals (BZA).
Since Bloomington’s most recently updated unified development ordinance (UDO) was signed into law by mayor John Hamilton on July 12 last year, no conditional use applications have been filed to build duplexes in older residential neighborhoods.
That was the report to the Bloomington city council’s Wednesday meeting by development services manager Jackie Scanlan. The only way new duplexes can be constructed in older neighborhoods is through a conditional use application.
Also on Wednesday, planning and transportation director Scott Robinson alerted the council to some upcoming proposed changes in the UDO—revisions to the incentives that are available to developers. Developers of student housing are using the sustainability incentive, but not the affordability incentive, Robinson reported. The goal of the proposed changes will be to encourage the use of both incentive types, Robinson said.
Those proposed changes to the UDO’s incentives will eventually be reviewed by Bloomington’s plan commission, before the city council makes a decision. The city plan commission’s next meeting is set for Feb. 7. That will be the commission’s first meeting of the year. The group will have two new faces compared to last year.
The city council representative to the plan commission will be Ron Smith, not Susan Sandberg, who has served the last few years in that role. The other new face isTim Ballard, who has been appointed to the Bloomington plan commission as the replacement for Beth Cate, who resigned when she took the role of the city’s corporation counsel in early January.
Approved by Bloomington’s plan commission on Monday night was a site plan for a project that would demolish the old Colonial Crest apartment complex, now called The Arch, on the north side of town.
In the place of 206 apartments and 393 bedrooms, spread across 15 separate two-story buildings, the developer plans to construct four residential buildings with a total of 241 apartments and 675 bedrooms, according to a letter from Smith Design Group, which is the consultant for the Aspen TOPCO II Acquisitions project.
That nets roughly 270 more bedrooms on the same site.
According to Bloomington senior zoning planner Eric Greulich, the big difference between the version approved by the plan commission on Monday, compared to what was approved three months ago, is the lack of any new public roads proposed inside the project site.
Off Gourley Pike, west of Miller-Showers Park on a 12.3-acre piece of land, sits the old Colonial Crest apartment complex, now called The Arch, with its 208 apartments and 406 bedrooms, spread across 15 separate two-story buildings.
Based on apartment rental websites, residents there now pay a monthly rent between $680 and $925 for the 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom units.
With the Bloomington plan commission’s major site plan approval granted Monday night, that complex is now set for demolition, to make way for a project by Aspen Heights Partners (AHP) called AHP-Bloomington Apartments.
Locator map for Habitat for Humanity’s Osage Place.
Inset for Habitat for Humanity’s Osage Place.
Layout of houses on extensions of street stubs.
Monroe County commissioners with Habitat for Humanity president and CEO Wendi Goodlett. From left: Penny Githens, Goodlett, Lee Jones, and Julie Thomas.
Habitat for Humanity president and CEO Wendi Goodlett and Bloomington deputy mayor Don Griffin.
Habitat for Humanity board chair Meredith Rogers.
Habitat for Humanity president and CEO Wendi Goodlett.
Habitat for Humanity president and CEO Wendi Goodlett and board chair Meredith Rogers.
From left: Former Monroe County commissioner Charlotte Zietlow, Bloomington HAND department director John Zody, and Monroe County commissioners Penny Githens.
From left: Bloomington economic and sustainability development director Alex Crawley, planning and transportation director Scott Robinson, and zoning compliance officer Elizabeth Carter.
Groundbreaking for Habitat for Humanity’s Osage Place at the end of Guy Avenue, June 14, 2021
On Monday afternoon, Habitat for Humanity of Monroe County’s board chair Meredith Rogers addressed a gathering of about 50 people for a ceremonial groundbreaking at Osage Place.
It’s a 69-house project just east of RCA Community Park, which is getting built in two phases.
At Monday’s event, held at the western stub of Guy Avenue where the pavement ends, it was evident from the mounds of dirt and the deep gravel, that the first phase of construction is already underway. The infrastructure is being put in place for the extensions of some east-west street stubs.
Rogers framed her remarks by talking about hope. “Creating the hope of a better future for our partner families is what Habitat for Humanity is all about,” Rogers said.
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).
Rogers continued, “Habitat provides that feeling of expectation or desire of a decent affordable place to call home.”
For Rogers, Monday’s groundbreaking was not the time to stop, but to continue hoping.
Rogers said, “There is still so much work to be done. The need for affordable housing is greater than ever.” Rogers added, “Habitat needs your help to continue creating the hope of a better future for our partner families.”
She wrapped up with four lines from Emily Dickenson: “Hope” is the thing with feathers – / That perches in the soul – / And sings the tune without the words – / And never stops – at all.
It’s the same year when Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall” was published, with its proverbial line from the storyteller’s adjacent landowner: “Good fences make good neighbors.”
In mid-May the US Postal Service started building an eight-foot-tall fence around its branch just south of the park.
With its fence construction, by the standards of the narrator’s neighbor in the “Mending Wall,” the USPS has made itself a “good neighbor” to the public park.
Some local reaction has been more along the lines of the storyteller in the poem: “Before I built a wall I’d ask to know / What I was walling in or walling out, / And to whom I was like to give offense. / Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, That wants it down.”
It looks like the fence probably doesn’t conform with local zoning code. But the principle of “sovereign immunity” means the USPS, even as a lessee of the property, can build the fence the way it wants, according to Bloomington’s legal department.
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.
In under three hours on Monday night, Bloomington’s plan commission dispatched five recommended ordinances that revise the text of the city’s basic land use document, which is the unified development ordinance (UDO).
That sets the stage for the two most controversial parts of the project. On Thursday night, the plan commission will take up proposed changes to the UDO to allow for duplexes, triplexes and quadplexes in some parts of the city where they are not currently allowed. And possibly as soon as next Monday (March 29), the plan commission will consider a revision to the city wide zoning map.
On Monday the plan commission recommended ordinances to the city council that, if adopted, would have several different effects. Here are some highlights.
By-right accessory dwelling units (ADUs) would not require neighbor notification.
A restaurant of up to 5,000 square feet would be possible in a mixed-use employment (ME) zone.
Parking maximums for medical clinics would increase from 3.3 to 5 spaces per 1,000 square feet of floor area.
A shelter for people experiencing homelessness would not require residents to live as a single housekeeping unit.
All of the urban agricultural land uses that are currently allowed in the residential estate (RE) district would be allowed in the new (residential large lot) R1 district.
Compared to the public engagement drafts—for both the zone map and the text amendments—the planning staff is now proposing less-dense land uses.
The plan commission can amend the proposal during the course of its deliberations. The city council will have the final say.
The less-dense use is proposed in connection with all four of these residential uses: R1 (Residential Large Lot); and R2 (Residential Medium Lot); R3 (Residential Small Lot); and R4 (Residential Urban).
A map provided on the project web page shows a significantly reduced amount of area proposed for the R4 zoning district. It’s a new district that was created as part of a revision to the unified development ordinance (UDO) that was approved by the city council in late 2019.