Oct. 11, 2019
Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) Information

Every Property in Bloomington will be Rezoned Soon! Learn the details and attend the City Council meetings

Duplexes, triplexes, quads and larger apartments are proposed to be addedto single-family neighborhoods in Bloomington.

The Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA) supports Bloomington’s efforts to increase its stock of affordable and workforce housing, including the increase of density in neighborhoods that can support increased density. CONA supports increasing density through construction of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), and of multiple housing forms in lightly developed areas throughout the city. However, CONA opposes the introduction of duplex, triplex and other multi-unit housing forms in areas of Bloomington currently zoned for single-family housing. We view single-family detached homes as an essential housing form that is threatened by efforts to densify core neighborhoods where small houses on small lots are the predominant use and remain Bloomington’s principal stock of affordable starter homes.

Advocates for densification of the core neighborhoods justify their recommendations principally by suggesting densification will (a) lead to an increase in affordable housing stock by adding to the overall housing supply, and (b) reduce Bloomington’s contribution to atmospheric carbon, and thus to climate change, by concentrating population in attached housing walkable to downtown. Advocates further suggest the bulk of the scientific research on urban development and climate science supports these suggestions.

CONA believes substantial evidence exists to refute these suggestions. Based on research listed below, we believe that:

  • Densifying core neighborhoods will not lead to development of new affordable rental capacity in these neighborhoods;
  • Increasing rental housing stock at the expense of single-family home ownership will be detrimental to the quality of life in Bloomington;
  • Opening core neighborhoods to multiplex development will actually increase Bloomington’s carbon contribution, because it will entail demolition of existing houses, a process which will produce far more carbon emissions than could be saved by constructing more energy-efficient new housing, and
  • Upzoning core neighborhoods will invite exploitation of Bloomington’s core land resources by luxury apartment developers in ways that will benefit their private equity investors but draw wealth out of Bloomington, while contributing nothing to the city’s effort to increase its workforce or affordable housing stock.

Neighborhoods with Covenants

Most subdivisions built after WW II have covenants that restrict residential uses. For example, some covenants prohibit homeowners from hanging their laundry, erecting a fence or building a shed. It’s common for covenants to limit the type of dwellings to single-family residences and only one unit per lot. Covenants are legal agreements between homeowners and the City does not enforce them. Enforcement is the responsibility of the homeowners at their expense. Many have a built-in expiration date, known as a sunset, while others must be renewed. Some covenants remain in effect into perpetuity.

In general, neighborhood covenants have greater restrictions for housing types than the City’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) would allow, so the covenant would still apply. However, the draft UDO permits duplexes and triplexes in almost all residential zones, including those with covenants, as a conditional use. If a property owner in a neighborhood with a covenant decides to convert a single-family home to a duplex, it would be allowed under the UDO as a conditional use. To prevent the conversion, the neighborhood residents would have to initiate a civil court case to prevent the conversion. The court could then decide if the covenant is enforceable.

You can find the terms of your covenants on your deed or on the original subdivision plat. To Find the Original Subdivision Plat: Take your property’s legal description (find it on your tax bill or receipt) and go to Monroe County Courthouse Recorder’s Office in room 122, 100 W Kirkwood Ave, (M-F, 8 am – 4 pm). The original plat is cataloged at the Recorder’s Office. The helpful people at the recorder’s office can direct you to your subdivision plat.

Research-based articles: