Zoning Preemption Bill to Be Heard in the House

February 22, 2022

Note: There is updated information on this topic. Read the latest article.

Cities have concerns about the bill, entitled the “Legalizing Affordable Housing Act,” because it has several provisions that generally preempt city land use and zoning authority.

The House Local Government Division will have a hearing on HF 3256 (Rep. Steve Elkins, DFL-Bloomington), a zoning preemption bill, on Feb. 23 at 8:30 a.m. The bill is entitled the “Legalizing Affordable Housing Act.”

A number of provisions in HF 3256 generally preempt city land use and zoning authority. Additionally, some provisions that only impact metro-area cities further restrict zoning authority and complicate the relationship with the Metropolitan Council.

The League is advocating for state housing policy that benefits cities statewide by:

  • Addressing the full housing spectrum.
  • Supporting local innovation.
  • Providing incentives instead of mandates.
  • Providing community-specific solutions throughout Minnesota.

City concerns

The League — along with the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, Minnesota Association of Small Cities, Metro Cities, and the Municipal Legislative Commission — opposes the provisions of this bill that preempt zoning and land use authority.

Zoning is an important planning tool that benefits communities economically and socially, improves health and wellness, and helps conserve the environment. This bill would limit this beneficial tool by imposing several mandates, including:

  • Requiring any housing proposal contemplated by a comprehensive plan in the future be accepted now, even if needed infrastructure isn’t available to support this new development (including prohibiting the opportunity to study impacts of such residential development).
  • Capping land and park dedication fees to 10% of the fair market value of the proposed subdivision.
  • Requiring land dedication for streets to be no larger than 32 feet, while limiting the ability for cities to require adequate off-street parking.
  • Requiring all cities to allow duplexes and accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in single-family zoned areas.
  • Requiring a 60-day rule for building permits, which could result in automatic approvals when things are delayed beyond the city’s control.

Bill provides some needed city authority

The bill does provide authority for street improvement districts and street impact fees, which cities generally support.

The street improvement district provisions are the same as HF 1565 (Rep. Elkins), which the League supports. However, the street impact fee authorization provisions are different from the League-supported bill, HF 527 (Rep. Sandra Masin, DFL-Eagan). The League prefers the language in HF 527.

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.


A draft version of this bill was previously discussed by the Legislative Commission on Housing Affordability. (Read previous article.) There have been changes made since the legislative commission hearing, but cities remain concerned with many provisions in the introduced bill.

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