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Minnesota Legislature

Land use bill heads to floor

Published (2/24/2012)
By Nick Busse
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Opponents of frac sand mining are among those concerned about a bill that would restrict local governments’ ability to put the brakes on land developments.

Sponsored by Rep. Mike Beard (R-Shakopee), HF389 would restrict the ability of cities, counties and townships to adopt interim ordinances — also known as “land use moratoria” — that can delay for up to two years development projects for which a complete land use application is pending.

Beard said the goal is to protect developers who are playing by the rules from being blindsided by moratoria that can wear them down financially. Opponents say the bill would harm local officials’ ability to protect their communities.

The House Government Operations and Elections Committee voted 9-5 to approve the bill and send it to the House floor. Sen. Ray Vandeveer (R-Forest Lake) sponsors the companion, SF270, which awaits action by the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee.

Beard successfully amended the bill with a delete-all amendment that represents a compromise between the bill’s supporters and its opponents in city and county governments.

Under the new provisions, local governments would have 30 days to adopt an interim ordinance after receiving a complete land use application. Adopting an interim ordinance would require a two-thirds vote by the local governing body, and the ordinance would be limited to one year, with no extensions.

Patrick Hynes, representing the League of Minnesota Cities, said this version is a “workable compromise” compared to the old language, which the league opposed. He added that they would still prefer to keep the current law.

Some say the bill is still too restrictive of local governments. Bobby King, an organizer for the Land Stewardship Project, said the bill would tie the hands of local governments who might be struggling to fully consider the implications of something like large-scale sand mining in their communities within the bill’s 30-day time frame.

“We believe local governments need to be fully empowered to react when something unanticipated and potentially harmful is proposed in their community,” King said.

The bill also includes several changes related to park dedication and other fees.

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