The majority of 20 proposed amendments to the city’s revised Unified Development Ordinance were approved Tuesday during a continued special session of the Bloomington City Council.

Accessibility


Inclusionary design for some multifamily, student and dormitory buildings was unanimously approved in order to be more accessible for people with disabilities.

”We’ve heard complaints about a lack of universal design,” Scott Robinson, planning department assistant director, said of the amendment. “Usually these are forced through building codes as opposed to planning ordinances. This addresses limits for greater accessibility to housing expressed through standards.”

These standards are specifically set for doorways, entrances, bathroom design and light switch height.

Design freedom

Council member Chris Sturbaum wrote an amendment that would codify creative freedom for architects.

In the amendment, the planning and transportation director can continue to retain an independent third party consultant to review any proposed building design in order to assist with review of compliance with the standards in the UDO. The consultant may offer alternative compliant design options that address each element of building design, and can be approved by the body making the final decision based on whether the suggestion enhances visual appeal or perceived quality of facades visible from the street, creates no adverse impacts of surrounding properties and strengthens the public-private interaction at the street level.

Robinson said this language clarifies a practice they already use for residential areas.

While many of the council members indicated support in the name of creativity and freedom for buildings, Steve Volan said that he wished more amendments would clarify language such as “visual appeal” and “enhances visual appeal.”

Council member Isabel Piedmont-Smith said she agreed with the vagueness concern, and that despite agreeing in previous years that there should be more architectural oversight, she now believes money spent on private architects should be used to combat climate change.

“Some person’s artwork is another’s visual blight,” council member Jim Sims said.

The amendment was adopted, 6-2.

Multi-unit dwellings
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