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Tuesday, May 28
The Indiana Daily Student

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City Council to hear Summit District petition, may also override Mayor’s veto

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A petition to rezone one of the largest tracts of undeveloped land in Bloomington could get its final mark of approval from the Bloomington City Council this week. The council will hear the rezoning petition, which would support the Summit District, during its regular meeting April 17. 

The council may also override Bloomington Mayor Kerry Thomson’s recent veto of a resolution opposing the LEAP water pipeline during the meeting. The resolution, narrowly passed by the council in March, opposes a state-sponsored pipeline that could divert up to 100 million gallons of water a day from the Wabash River into Boone County, Indiana.  

City Council to consider Summit District rezone 

The Summit District is a 139-acre proposed mixed commercial and residential development that the developers, Sudbury Development Partners LLC, hope to build in Southwest Bloomington on Weimer Road. With 4,250 proposed residential units, the development would be one of the largest projects ever constructed in city limits. If approved, the development would likely be complete by 2034, according to a city Planning and Transporation Department staff report. 

The city council will hear the rezone petition almost a month after the Bloomington Plan Commission forwarded it to the council, recommending the council approve the rezone with a list of 10 conditions March 19. These conditions include specifying floor plate, height and fencing standards, incorporating new stormwater detention requirements and promising to work with various city departments.  

The project has garnered both strong support and pushback from residents. During a Plan Commission meeting March 19, representatives from Habitat for Humanity of Monroe County, United Way of South Central Indiana, Heading Home of South Central Indiana and the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce voiced their support for the Summit District, arguing the project would help fill a need for more housing in the area. According to a 2024 Regional Opportunity Initiatives Housing study, Monroe County will need an additional 4,447 residential units by 2030 to accommodate population growth. 

While city officials say it’s difficult to estimate how many people may live in this development, one nearby resident John Scott, who holds a certificate in urban planning and development and served on the Dennis, Massachusetts zoning and appeals board, told the Indiana Daily Student in February he estimates the Summit District could end up housing 10,000 people. 

During her State of the City address April 9, Mayor Kerry Thomson said she supports the Summit District development. 

“This is housing for people who work here, close to some of our largest employers as well as some of our best amenities,” Thomson said.  

However, some residents who live on Weimer Road and in the nearby neighborhood Arbor Ridge worry the area’s sewer and road infrastructure cannot support the large-scale development. The primary way to access the development will be driving on Weimer Road, which is around 1.3 miles long and connects Tapp Road and Second Street. The developers have also proposed extending the nearby roads Adams Street and Sudbury Lane. Nearby residents say Weimer Road frequently floods, experiences backups and has visibility problems.  

The Bloomington Environmental Commission also expressed concerns with development in a memorandum to the Plan Commission, specifically with the petitioners' use of Planned Unit Development zoning.  

While traditional zoning ordinances often have stricter regulations, PUD zoning can mix different property types and is more flexible. Under PUD zoning, petitioners can propose changes to standards required by Bloomington’s Unified Development Ordinance, Bloomington’s primary source of land use regulation. For instance, Sudbury Development Partners LLC proposed mixing zoning ordinances to build short term off-site and surface parking lots, which is not permitted under the standard city zoning ordinances.  

In its memorandum, the Environmental Commission said PUD zoning should not be used to avoid environmental standards. The commission also proposed changes to standards in the PUD, such as providing more protection for the riparian buffers and creating more electric vehicle charging stations. In July 2023, Sudbury Development Partners LLC proposed multiple reductions in environmental protection standards required by the UDO. Since then, the petitioners said they will not deviate from the city’s UDO standards. 

The city Planning and Transporation Department certified the Plan Commission’s recommendation March 28. According to Indiana Code, the council may adopt or reject the rezone proposal within 90 days after this certification.  

The council can direct city officials to conduct a secondary review of the PUD district, create conditions for development and the issuance of zoning compliance certificates, and allow the owner of the property to make written commitments. Indiana Code also requires the council to pay “reasonable regard” to the city’s comprehensive plan, the conditions and character of the district, the conservation of property values, desirable land use and development.  

Council considers overriding Mayoral veto 

The council may also override Thomson’s veto of an advocacy resolution opposing the state-sponsored LEAP pipeline during its meeting April 17. The council narrowly passed the resolution March 27, with five councilmembers voting in favor and four abstaining.  

The resolution is co-sponsored by councilmembers Andy Ruff and Dave Rollo. The council first heard the resolution during its meeting March 6, but postponed a vote after Thomson and local economic group leaders cautioned that supporting the resolution could damage the city’s relationship with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, which is managing the project.  

The IEDC signed a $10 million contract with the state in May 2023 to create a 35-mile water pipeline running from Lafeyette to Lebanon, Indiana. The pipeline, which would support a 9,000-acre manufacturing district in Boone County, has faced pushback from residents. Tippecanoe County residents formed the group “Stop the Water Steal” to oppose the pipeline, and Citizens Action Coalition, a consumer advocacy group, criticized the IEDC for lacking transparency with the public when developing project plans.  

Governing bodies for Attica, Lafayette, West Lafayette and Monticello, along with Miami, Benton and Tippecanoe counties have passed similar pieces of legislation opposing the project. 

During public comment about the resolution March 27, Thomson said she would not sign any resolutions addressing issues outside of city business.  

“There are significant problems that we are trying to solve and there are also many opportunities at hand which demand my full attention and I believe could demand yours as well,” Thomson said during public comment. “I will be spending my time on the issues where I can effect change directly.”  

According to a council memorandum, Thomson failed to sign the resolution within 10 days of the council approving it, meaning the legislation was vetoed. At least six council members must vote in support of the resolution to override Thomson’s veto. However, members of the council cannot call for a motion to amend the resolution or postpone a vote during the April 17 meeting. 

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified where the founders of the group “Stop the Water Steal” are based. 

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