Bill on Zoning Changes Heard at the Legislature

Rep. Steve Elkins (DFL-Bloomington) presented his zoning reform bill to the House Housing Committee this week

The leading zoning reform bill at the legislature, HF 2235 (Elkins), was heard in the Minnesota House Housing Committee on earlier this week.

Among many things, the bill includes provisions that would:

  • Authorize a two-family property, like a duplex or single-family property with an accessory dwelling unit, as a permitted use in all areas zoning for single-family residential use.
  • Prohibit a municipality from requiring a planned unit development (PUD) if the proposed development complies with existing city zoning ordinances, subdivision regulation, or qualifies as a conditional use.
  • Prohibit a municipality from conditioning approval of a building permit, subdivision development, or PUD on specific materials for aesthetic reasons.
  • Prohibit a municipality from requiring minimum square footage for a residential building or an accessory structure. Also prohibits a municipality from requiring more than one garage stall for a single-family dwelling.
  • Cap the total value of park dedication at ten percent of the fair market value of the proposed subdivision.
  • Require the commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry to establish a cost per square foot valuation of certain residential properties for the purpose of setting building permit fees by municipalities.

Nick Erickson, senior director of housing policy for Housing First Minnesota, was a testifier at the hearing and explained the significance of this bill.

Nick Erickson, senior director of housing policy for Housing First Minnesota, testified during the hearing

“Absent Article 1 (impact fee authority), this bill is among the most progressive and comprehensive housing bills in the nation, Erickson said. “This is the same approach taken by California, Oregon and Massachusetts. It is the same approach being examined by Colorado, New York, Washington, and several other states.”

Further testimony on the bill came from nearly a dozen other interested parties including national housing thought leaders from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Zillow, the Vinyl Siding Institute, and more.

The Chair of the Housing Committee, Rep. Mike Howard (DFL, Richfield), cited his support for the bill, saying, “I think it is important to move this conversation forward. I do think the state has a vested interest in this issue, in this conversation.”

Representative Elkins stated in his closing comments, “I’ve been working on this bill for about a year and a half now and will continue to. The current situation is not in the interest of any individual city to foster more affordable housing.”

After over an hour of robust discussion among the committee, the bill advanced out of the Housing Committee and was sent to the State and Local Government Committee for further discussion.