Zoning Preemption Bill Stalls in Senate Local Government Committee

March 28, 2022

By laying over the bill, the committee sided with cities and stalled this problematic legislation.

SF 3259 (Sen. Rich Draheim, R-Madison Lake), which would preempt local zoning authority, was laid over in the Senate Local Government Policy Committee on March 22.

While this version of the zoning preemption bill will not advance in the Senate, the Senate Local Government Committee will take a procedural vote to re-refer the version that was heard last year (SF 915, Sen. Draheim).

In 2021, SF 915 was passed out of the committee and sent to the floor. This procedural vote will put the bill in the same position as last year. The League will work to prevent SF 915 from advancing.

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

Cities seek to address diverse housing needs

League staff testified at the hearing and shared that, as of the date of the hearing, 99 cities had adopted resolutions stating that:

  • Zoning is best addressed locally.
  • Varied and tailored solutions are needed for the varied housing issues across Minnesota.
  • A state/local partnership is crucial to address important housing needs statewide.

Now, 101 cities have notified the League that they’ve adopted this resolution. Cities that have not yet adopted this resolution are encouraged to do so.

Access the League’s model housing and local decision-making authority resolution

Community-specific solutions needed

Minnetonka Mayor Brad Wiersum testified that cities oppose the legislation because it preempts local zoning authority, which is needed to address differing needs of each local community and differences in topography.

Wiersum also shared the importance of state housing policies solutions that work, including:

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

Preemption impacts authority of cities

Charlie Vander Aarde from Metro Cities testified about city land use and zoning, how cities address housing densities, and more. He shared that cities want to work with the Legislature to address adequate funding, but he does not believe this zoning preemption bill addresses affordability.

Prior Lake City Manager Jason Wedel expressed how this bill disregards the public input through zoning process. Additionally, the bill doesn’t account for the individuality each city has. Instead, it seeks a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn’t address the important and unique housing issues across the state.

Fairmont City Administrator Cathy Reynolds expressed concern for how this bill would negatively impact the relationship between cities and residential developers by creating new barriers. The bill’s requirement to apply the 60-day rule to building permits is an example of this.

Due to the concern that contractors won’t address corrections in the 60-day time frame, cities would be forced to deny building permit applications. This would result in increased cost and delay for residential development.

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