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City Council Moves to Restrict Downtown Development


Bloomington City Council members are working to limit the heights of new, downtown development.

In their ongoing revision of the city’s comprehensive plan, council members voted unanimously to remove language that would increase building heights to achieve maximum residential density.

In last night’s meeting, Council member Isabel Piedmont-Smith authored the amendment to strike the language from the plan. She says council members are hearing from the public that building heights downtown are already higher than the community desires.

Bloomington’s downtown lies largely within City Council districts one and six. District 6 Representative Steve Volan and Piedmont-Smith discussed whether her amendment could change the Plan Commission’s practice of granting height waivers to developers. District 1 Representative Chris Sturbaum says the original language specifying higher downtown development immediately caught his eye.

Piedmont-Smith’s amendment did not alter comp plan language regarding “diversified density calculations,” but she took time to explain the concept of dwelling unit equivalents (D.U.E.). Piedmont-Smith says the ratio between D.U.E.’s and the number of apartments or bedrooms in a development is not one-to-one. In her explanation, she references last year’s Bloomington Bagel Company’s renovation that incorporated micro-studios.

The council anticipates the city will begin updating its Unified Development Ordinance (U.D.O.), once the new comprehensive plan is approved. However, City Planning Manager Scott Robinson says another planning document – the city’s Downtown Vision Plan – still identifies downtown as an area for increased height, as well as density.

During the Council’s meeting last night, Volan said he knows of no plan to revise the Downtown Vision Plan to match the language change in the city’s comprehensive plan.

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