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City council discusses two chapters of UDO about parking, sustainable use


Bloomington city council members listen to public comment Oct. 23 at City Hall. The council had a special session Wednesday to discuss changes to the Unified Development Ordinance. Joy Burton

Council members reviewed and clarified aspects from two chapters of the Unified Development Ordinance update Wednesday night in a special session. 

Presentations were given by Scott Robinson, assistant director of the Planning and Transportation department. The Bloomington Unified Development Ordinance governs land use and regulations in the city. 

The first presentation was on chapter four of the ordinance, which covers affordable housing and sustainable developments. Council members questioned aspects of the ordinance, such as the longevity of affordable housing incentives. An example of one of these incentives is a waiver of certain fees. 

Council member Isabel Piedmont-Smith had concerns about allowing construction on floodplains and having residents’ soil tested before being able to sell produce grown on their land. She claimed that because of climate changes, floods will occur more often. 

“What people fail to grasp is that life in 20 years is not what life is like now,” Piedmont-Smith said. “It’s irresponsible to allow to build on floodplains and to make it more difficult to grow your own produce.”

Jacqueline Scanlan, development services manager, said allowing construction in floodplains is pretty standard in zoning codes as long as the land meets the requirements. 

Piedmont-Smith said people need to live in a more compact and energy efficient way. 

“We can love our neighborhoods, but there will be nothing left to love if we don’t change,” Piedmont-Smith said.

West side resident Michelle Henderson brought up the issue of residential parking in neighborhoods. 

“The streets are narrow,” Henderson said. “At this point people are parking on both sides. Someone should take into account the safety of the neighborhood residents.”

She cited an issue she encountered where she saw someone driving past a school bus. Both vehicles could not fit on the narrow road, causing the smaller car to have to backtrack so the bus could pass. 

Council member Stephen Volan was opposed to the idea of adding more parking. 

“We don’t need more,” Volan said. “We have plenty. We need to better regulate what we have.”

The council also briefly discussed chapter five, which covers subdivision standards, such as storm water requirements, lot sizes and conservation.

Volan asked about the idea of mixing residential and commercial use in some zones of land. Scanlan said it can be done in any zoning district, and it is encouraged. 

The next city council meeting will be at 6 p.m. Oct. 30. The council will be discussing chapters six and seven of the UDO.

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