Zoning Preemption Bill Heard by House Local Government Division

February 28, 2022

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The committee ran out of time before hearing city concerns, but city representatives expect to testify when the hearing continues on March 2.

The House Local Government Division on Feb. 23 heard HF 3256 (Rep. Steve Elkins, DFL-Bloomington), a zoning preemption bill titled “Legalizing Affordable Housing.” The committee heard presentations by the bill author and many testifiers, but ran out of time before hearing any city perspectives.

The committee will continue the testimony on March 2, when city testifiers will be able to provide their thoughts and concerns, along with other testifiers who were not yet heard. However, the committee does not intend to act on the bill, but to lay it over to continue working on it.

City concerns

Local government groups have expressed concerns about the bill, and the following groups submitted written testimony:

  • The League, Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, Minnesota Association of Small Cities, Metro Cities, and Municipal Legislative Commission expressed opposition to zoning preemption provisions.
  • Metro Cities expressed concerns about metro-specific provisions that would obstruct orderly growth of the metro region, along with needed infrastructure to serve the growth.
  • Association of Minnesota Counties conveyed concerns about county-related provisions.

Read the joint letter from the League and other city organizations (pdf)

Testimony about metro housing needs

Representatives from Zonda, Zillow, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Minneapolis Area Realtors, and Mercatus Center discussed the need for more housing to be built in the Twin Cities metro area. Many of these representatives did not take a position on the bill.

Additional testimony

Seven additional testifiers shared their perspectives regarding:

  • Building permit fees and reporting. Scott McClellan from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) provided information on the two provisions that would (1) require DLI produce a valuation table for cities to use, and (2) raise the reporting threshold from $5,000 to $7,000.
  • Authorization for street improvement districts and street impact fees. Representatives from the Minnesota Auto Dealers Association and Jewish Community Relations Counsel testified in opposition to provisions that would provide municipalities with the authority to collect fees from street improvement districts or street impact fees.
  • Zoning preemption. Four testifiers representing Housing First, home builders, and Minnesota Realtors supported zoning preemption measures.

Other written testimony

In addition to local governments, the following groups also submitted written testimony:

  • Coalition for opposition on street improvement districts.
  • Coalition supporting HF 3256 (Housing First, Minnesota Realtors, Central Minnesota Business Association, Minnesota Chamber, Builders Association of Minnesota, Vinyl Siding Institute, and Multifamily Housing Association), which claimed the bill:
    • Legalizes new starter homes by modernizing Minnesota’s land use practices.
    • Stops mandates for luxury material upgrades and other building code conflicts that drive costs.
    • Restores reasonable homeowner choice on home, garage, and lot size allowing starter home options.
    • Reduces lot costs while ensuring that local governments can adequately fund infrastructure, parks, and trails.
    • Ends “zoning by loophole” and aligns local controls to comprehensive plans.
  • Vinyl Siding Institute claimed there is local preemption of building materials, making new homes more expensive.
  • American Institute of Architects-Minnesota expressed support for disclosure of energy efficiency and for the bill generally to continue work on it.
  • Rise Modular expressed support for allowance of industrial/modular residential buildings.
  • Minnesota Housing Partnership expressed support for the provision that would require all cities to provide for greater density in single-family zoned areas, with concerns of exclusionary zoning and racial segregation.

Read written testimony from Zillow (pdf)

Read written testimony from Rise Modular (pdf)

Senate companion

The Senate companion bill, SF 3259 (Sen. Rich Draheim, R-Madison Lake), has not yet been scheduled for a hearing, but it is anticipated that it will be heard. It has been referred to the Senate Housing Finance and Policy Committee.

For more background information about this bill, read a previous article.

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