What’s Going On?

In October 2020, the City of Bloomington’s Planning & Transportation staff announced that Mayor John Hamilton’s administration has proposed an updated zoning map, and a text amendment to the city’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), that would transform much of the city.


The City has revised its map, cutting sharply back on the dense R4 zones originally proposed, which covered most of the core neighborhoods. The new project site for the revised map is here.


At the end of 2019, Bloomington’s City Council approved a new UDO, rejecting an amendment that would have rezoned neighborhoods that had been zoned for single family housing since the 1990s, to allow denser housing forms as permitted uses. Proponents of densification had argued that allowing new “plex” development, especially in core neighborhoods surrounding downtown and the Indiana University campus, would create affordable housing, encourage walkable/bikeable lifestyles and foster economic/racial equity in housing.

Upzoning Bloomington will:

– Destroy neighborhood cohesion;

– Reduce the availability of small-lot, affordable single family homes for individual and family home ownership; and

– Green-light large, private equity-backed corporate developers’ influx into Bloomington to buy up homes for conversion to rental properties.

The Council rejected the upzoning amendment when Bloomington citizens turned out in large numbers at a series of Council meetings to point out obvious logical flaws in the plex proponents’ arguments and oppose densification of their neighborhoods.

The 2020 amendment and mapping would reverse this action, allowing duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes and larger multi-unit buildings as housing forms in single family neighborhoods.

This zoning change would:

…all while failing to address the city’s stated priority of increasing the stock of affordable housing (explicitly including home ownership opportunities).

The Mayor and Council are aggressively pursuing the zoning change over the continuing objections of citizens. Those objections have not changed since the rejection of the original upzoning amendment, either in substance or in fervency of opposition. What has changed is the composition of the City Council, which now includes new members who are ideological advocates for densification. The Mayor, emboldened by the impression that he now has the votes on the Council to pass a new amendment, is proceeding (with Mitch McConnell-like arrogance) to impose densification over the will of Bloomington’s citizens.

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