Upzoning in the administration’s own words

What is the Hamilton Administration telling us when it proposes to urbanize Bloomington’s traditional single family neighborhoods? Remember, this isn’t just the core neighborhoods — it’s many other areas and subdivisions around the city, some of whose residents believe they are covered by protective covenants that prohibited multiplex development, as indeed they did before those covenants expired.

Single family neighborhoods have up to now been covered by a zoning code called R3. Let’s look at the wording in the city’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), as updated last fall:

R3 (Residential Small Lot): The R3 district is intended to protect and enhance established residential neighborhoods by increasing the viability of owner‐occupied and affordable dwelling units through small‐lot subdivisions, accessory dwelling units, and property improvements compatible with surrounding development patterns. The conversion of existing housing stock to more intense land uses is discouraged. This district may be used as a transition between medium‐lot residential development and neighborhood‐scale residential, commercial, and institutional development.”

That’s a pretty fair description of a neighborhood committed to enabling and protecting the ability of individuals to do what Americans have traditionally done for at least the last 150 years: Accumulate a modest degree of wealth by buying, improving and building equity in their homes. Home ownership is the only practical store of wealth most Hoosiers will ever see.

Now look at what the Hamilton Administration wants your neighborhood to become:

R4 (Residential Urban): The R4 district is intended to accommodate residential uses on small urban scale lots that offer a diverse mix of housing opportunities consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and other adopted plans. Properties in the R4 district typically have access to many public services that are accessible to pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles. This district may be used as a transition between small‐lot residential development and urban‐scale residential, commercial, and institutional development.”

It’s up to you how you see yourself, your home and your surroundings. Where is the commitment to protecting your access to an affordable means of wealth accumulation and financial independence in a Residential Urban neighborhood?

What changed since December 2019, when the City Council passed the UDO that made your neighborhood Residential Small Lot? What happened in the meantime that necessitated the transformation of your neighborhood into a transition between what it used to be and “urban‐scale residential, commercial, and institutional development”?

Marc Cornett


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