Indiana Daily Student

Bloomington City Council to consider complex near Switchyard Park after committee vote

<p>An illustration shows one possible rendering of a building complex under consideration by the Bloomington City Council. The proposed site sits adjacent to Switchyard Park and is a multi-building complex that contains townhomes, apartments and commercial outlets.</p>

An illustration shows one possible rendering of a building complex under consideration by the Bloomington City Council. The proposed site sits adjacent to Switchyard Park and is a multi-building complex that contains townhomes, apartments and commercial outlets.

The Bloomington City Council will consider a new proposed development at a full session after the Land Use Committee recommended its approval Wednesday. Only one member of the committee voted to recommend its approval to the full council, while the remaining three abstained, saying more information was needed before they could give a recommendation. 

Tom Brennan, a developer, is petitioning the city council to allow the construction of a multi-building complex that would include apartments, townhomes and commercial spaces. A minimum of 15% of the apartments and townhomes in the complex, which would sit adjacent to the B-Line walking and biking trail and Switchyard Park, will be affordable housing units, according to documents submitted to the council by the City Planning Commission. 

The developers do not yet have a timeframe for starting construction on the project, even if they get approval from the full council. The full council will hold a session next week, where this issue is likely to resurface. 

The Bloomington Environmental Commission has criticized the proposed complex and recommended to the council they not allow the project to move forward. Their concerns surround a lack of green space on the proposed site. 

“We will be even more grateful for green space in the future, and we will mourn the green space that we have lost,” Bloomington Environmental Commission Chairperson Andrew Guenther said.

The development’s preliminary site plans feature a roadway that also serves as a parking lot. The number of paved parking spaces are a significant concern to members of the council, who cited the negative effect of cars on the environment. 

Related: [Bloomington City Council approves rezoning plan for new apartment complex near College Mall]

“The roads they drive on are not green,” Councilmember Steve Volan, who abstained from providing a recommendation, said.

The developers responded to the environmental concerns Wednesday night and said they’ve worked hard to ensure the site is environmentally friendly.

“This is a green proposal,” Doug Bruce, a representative for the developer, said. “We are looking at the townhomes being designed under the ‘LEED for Homes’ certification and all of the commercial buildings being designed under a LEED silver.” 

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is a points-based certification system that certifies buildings based on its environmental responsibility. IU has dozens of projects that have earned LEED certification, but these buildings are extraordinarily rare elsewhere in Bloomington, Senior Zoning Planner Eric Greulich said. 

“There are not many outside of Indiana University and the city buildings,” he said. “There are only maybe a few handful of buildings within Bloomington that are actually LEED certified.” 

The three members of the committee who abstained said they think this project can still be approved after the full council reviews it. 

“There’s still a few outstanding issues that I think we need to work on and address,” Councilmember Matt Flaherty, who abstained, said. “In general, I’m feeling favorable toward this project.”

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