Zoning Preemption Bill Advances in the House

March 13, 2023

Despite city opposition, the House Housing Finance and Policy Committee moved the “Legalizing Affordable Housing Act,” which contains broad city preemption provisions, onto the next committee.

The House Housing Finance and Policy Committee on March 7 took up HF 2235 (Rep. Steve Elkins, DFL-Bloomington), the “Legalizing Affordable Housing Act.” Despite broad opposition, the committee passed the bill on a party-line vote and referred the bill to the House State and Local Government Committee. The bill does not yet have a Senate companion.

What’s in the bill

The bill, which has been modified from last year’s bill, seeks to broadly preempt zoning and land use authority for residential development. The bill’s proposed provisions would:

  • Require that all cities regardless of infrastructure capacity up-zone all single-family zoned areas to allow for duplexes or a single-family property with an accessory dwelling unit.
  • Severely deteriorate the tool that allows the development of smaller homes and lots — planned unit developments.
  • Cap land dedication and park dedication fees based on a percentage of fair market value.
  • Require that a city may not require dedication of land for streets, roads, or rights-of-way that exceeds minimum engineering standards for urban roadways and prohibits cities from requiring collector or arterial streets that exceed a curb-to-curb width of 32 feet.
  • Prohibit cities from conditioning any approvals on material, design, or other conditions if not currently required by the state building code.
  • Require the refunding of building permits 60-days after an application is submitted for all types of applications even if delay is outside of city control.
  • Prohibit minimum square footage requirements for residential buildings or accessory structures, as well as prohibits a city from requiring more than one garage stall for a single-family dwelling.
  • Impose requirements for all metro area cities including requiring an average density of residential development of no less than four units per acre for areas that haven’t yet been subdivided for residential development and requires that 25% of land that is guided for single family homes allow for a minimum density of eight units per acre.
  • Require metro area cities allow for all levels of density for residential development outlined in their comprehensive plans.
  • Allow for cities to assess impact fees but must utilize fees collected within 90 days of project completion and requires the establishment of an impact fee advisory committee.

Testimony on the bill

  • The League testified in opposition to the bill and was joined by Prior Lake City Manager Jason Wedel and Cambridge City Administrator Evan Vogel. City testimony in opposition to the bill discussed specific provisions of the bill that preempt city zoning and land use authority without any way to guarantee affordability and without regard to the availability of infrastructure to support higher density.
  • The League also submitted joint written testimony with the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, Metro Cities, Municipal Legislative Commission, and Minnesota Association of Small Cities. View the written testimony from the League and other local government organizations (pdf)
  • Other testifiers that discussed concerns with various provisions of the bill included the Association of Minnesota Building Officials, Department of Labor and Industry, and the Metropolitan Council.

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