Zoning Preemption Bill Advances in Senate to Local Government Committee

March 21, 2022

Amendments adopted in the Senate Housing Committee make the zoning preemption bill better but still problematic.

SF 3259 (Sen. Rich Draheim, R-Madison Lake), which would preempt local zoning authority, was passed out of the Senate Housing Finance and Policy Committee on a partisan basis (4-3) on March 15. The bill will be heard by the Senate Local Government Committee on March 22.

Amendments were adopted that removed some provisions opposed by cities, but the bill remains problematic. The League, along with other city organizations, will continue to oppose this bill.

Bill specifics

Some problematic provisions in the amendment include:

  • Limitation on material, design, amenities, or other aesthetic conditions: No matter the reason — such as energy efficiency or neighborhood character — the bill would prohibit cities from conditioning any approvals of building permits, subdivision development, or PUDs if these things are not required by the State Building Code. Under the bill, the State Building Code would serve as the ceiling, instead of as the floor, for safety reasons.
  • Problematic application of 60day rule to building permits: While building permits are administrative in nature, the issue with applying the 60-day rule is that delays are often outside of the city’s control. The time it takes for a homeowner or contractor to address deficiencies isn’t because of the city, but the resulting automatic approval would be detrimental to the health and safety of residents.
  • Prohibition of minimum square footage requirements: The bill would prohibit cities from imposing any minimum square footage requirement.

What cities can do

Cities can help oppose this bill by taking the following steps:

House companion

HF 3256 (Rep. Steve Elkins, DFL-Bloomington) was laid over in the House Local Government Division, so the House will not at this time progress the bill but will continue to work on it. (Read a previous related article.)

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