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City council discusses two chapters of UDO about administration and procedures, definitions



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Bloomington city council members Stephen Volan, Jim Sims and Chris Sturbaum listens to public comment Oct. 23 at City Hall. The council discussed chapters six and seven of the city's Unified Development Ordinance on Wednesday night. Joy Burton Buy Photos

The Bloomington City Council continued with its review and update of the city’s Unified Development Ordinance on Wednesday night.

Presentations were given by Scott Robinson, assistant director of the Planning and Transportation Department. The Bloomington UDO contains all of the land use and development regulations that apply to construction in the city. 

The purpose of Wednesday night’s meeting was to discuss how chapters six and seven of the UDO could be amended. Chapter six explained the administration and procedures a new construction project has to go through. Chapter seven laid out the exact definitions of some words, including student housing.

The first presentation was on chapter six of the ordinance. Members of the council questioned Robinson on some of the wording in the ordinance along with the procedures in implementing a multifamily building in single family neighborhoods. 

Council members Isabel Piedmont-Smith and Chris Sturbaum found an error pertaining to the wording in chapter six of the UDO. 

The UDO said in order to refer to a multifamily building, such as a triplex, as a major site plan in a single family neighborhood, it would have to be adjacent to a single family home and have more than 50 dwelling units.

Piedmont-Smith was concerned by the use of the word “and.”

“I would like there to be a major site review — even if there’s only 20 dwelling units — if it’s next to a single family home,” Piedmont-Smith said. 

Robinson and his colleagues clarified the word “and” was incorrectly used and should have read “or.”

The council also briefly discussed chapter seven, which gives more concrete definitions of words that pertain to housing projects, such as family and student housing. The definitions make it easier to describe what kind of housing should be built and in what locations. 

To finish the meeting, the council opened the podium up to the public to give any objections for the UDO to the council for consideration. 

One woman said one main concern of long-term Bloomington residents is that they do not want the city’s core neighborhoods to have a majority of multifamily and student housing built in place of the old houses.

Piedmont-Smith said the majority of comments she has received are not in support of allowing duplexes and triplexes in single family neighborhoods. 

Another woman said she has personally lived in a Bloomington neighborhood that became majority student housing. She said she didn’t feel comfortable because there were often parties by her house along with some altercations among students.

“We can’t legislate whether you are going to have a good neighbor or not,” council member Jim Sims said. 

The next city council meeting will be at 6 p.m. Nov. 13.

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