Thursday, September 3, 2009

Summary of Plan Commission with Comments from Jack Baker

     Brian White is proposing a 19 lot subdivision on the lot at Morton and Dodds. The first hearing with Bloomington City Plan Commission was on Monday Aug 31. A second hearing and most likely a vote accepting or denying the project will be held on October 5th
     Plan Commissioners heard from Mr. White and his local engineer. He wants to build 19 homes using several traditional designs including Queen Anne and Craftsman and place them on narrow lots, with all homes a short distance from, and facing, the phase II B-line trail. The homes would range in cost from about $170000 to $300000 and approximately 40% would be eligible for an affordable housing program that reduces the cost to a home buyer depending upon their income and family size.  
     Commissioners questioned all aspects of the project including density (number of homes), house spacing, materials and design, driveways, tree preservation and new tree plantings, and the extent of passive solar and the ‘green’ details. The Public questioned density and spacing of the homes, timing of the project, and tree preservation. The Planning staff questioned some of Mr. White’s project details including roof pitch, porch depth and building set-backs.
     My reading of the public commentary at the PC meeting and consensus at our last neighborhood meeting is most of the neighborhood is in favor of the project, with a few persons still concerned about the number of homes proposed for the property size. My reading of the Plan Commission is that it is also favorable to the project although there is some concern about the quality and density of the homes.
     While I too would rather see fewer homes on larger lots I believe it is not an option in this project – the developer considers it uneconomic to reduce the number of homes. But, if we can be assured the homes will be built with high aesthetic and material qualities I think the worry about density and closeness will be offset. As usual the recipe for a successful project is in the details. The Plan Commission staff noted all of our criticism at the Aug 31 meeting and is working with the developer to improve the proposal. For example we have asked that vinyl siding not be allowed as a building material (poor quality, lack of color range and paint holding), metal roofs be of a specific type, and roof pitch must be steeper. We are working on a commitment that the styles built will be true to the originals. 
This is the first project along the B-line trail and we need it to be a good one.

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