Ban on “profane discourse, rude or indecent behavior” near churches is impermissibly content based

March 26th, 2015

by Gary Taylor

SNAP, Inc. v. Jennifer Joyce, Circuit Attorney for the City of St. Louis, et al
Federal 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, March 9, 2015

In 2012 the Missouri legislature enacted the House of Worship Protection Act.  It provides that a person commits the crime of disrupting a house of worship if he or she “intentionally and unreasonably disturbs, interrupts, or disquiets any house of worship by using profane discourse, rude or indecent behavior, or making noise either within the house of worship or so near it as to disturb the order and solemnity of the worship services.”  The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is a non-profit organization that advocates for victims of sexual abuse by clergy.  Call to Action, Inc. is a non-profit organization that advocates for various changes in the Catholic Church, including the ordination of women, acceptance of gay, lesbian, and transgender people, and women’s participation as altar servers.  The members of both of these organizations (Plaintiffs) regularly meet near Catholic Churches to pray, hold signs and pictures, distribute literature, and attempt to communicate their messages to church personnel and parishioners.  Since the adoption of the Worship Protection Act members have been asked to move on, and have been threatened with jail by church ushers and parishioners; however, no plaintiff to the litigation has been arrested by Missouri officials, nor was evidence presented that plaintiff protesters have interfered in any way with churchgoers’ entry or exit from a house of worship.

Plaintiffs argued that their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated by the Worship Protection Act.  They claimed that the Act chilled their expression and interfered with their ability to speak in public locations where their intended audience may be reached – church leaders, workers, and parishioners.  Defendants were granted summary judgment by the district court, and plaintiffs appealed to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The constitutionality of a restriction on speech depends in large part upon whether it is content based and thus “subject to the most exacting scrutiny,” or a content neutral time, place, or manner regulation subject to intermediate scrutiny.  The 8th Circuit focused on the Act’s ban on “profane discourse, rude or indecent behavior” in or near a house of worship and found that the ban is content based.  It noted that the US Supreme Court has stated that governments might “seize upon the censorship of particular words as a convenient guise for banning the expression of unpopular views.” It also noted that the “unreasonably disturbs, interrupts, or disquiets any house of worship” language is the type of language disapproved of by the Supreme Court, which has stated that “audience disapproval or general concern about disturbance of the peace does not justify regulation of expression….The government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”  The 8th Circuit contrasted a US Supreme Court case that upheld a Colorado ban on people within 100 feet of a healthcare facility from approaching within 8 feet of another person for the purpose of “passing a leaflet or handbill, displaying a sign or engaging in protest….” It noted that the Colorado statute was content neutral because it regulated “only the places where some speech my occur” in contrast to the Missouri statute which requires an inquiry into whether speech is “profane” or “rude.”

The Worship Protection Act could not survive the exacting scrutiny required of content based regulation.  “The existence of content neutral alternatives to protect houses of worship from disruption, such as noise regulations…casts considerable doubt” on the government’s assertion that such regulations are necessary to achieve the state’s asserted interest in protecting the free exercise of religion.  The district court’s summary judgment in favor of the government was reversed.

Federal courts, First Amendment claims ,

More on cell towers…”in writing” requirement

March 25th, 2015

In keeping with the cell tower theme from yesterday, the following is an excerpt of my article that appeared in this month’s Iowa County regarding the T-Mobile case.

U.S. Supreme Court decision impacts local administration of cell tower applications.

The Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 (FTA) injected federal law into local control over the siting of wireless facilities (cell towers). The FTA requires, among other things, that a local board or commission’s denial of an application for a wireless facility “shall be in writing and supported by substantial evidence contained in a written record.” This has come to be known as the “in writing” requirement. Since 1996 federal courts have come to different conclusions about what local boards and commissions must do to satisfy this requirement. Last year the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take the case of T-Mobile South v. City of Roswell to clear up some of the confusion caused by the disagreements among the lower courts.

T-Mobile South applied to build a 108-foot cell tower in a residential neighborhood in Roswell, Georgia. The tower was to look like a pine tree, branches and all, though it would have stood at least twenty feet taller than surrounding trees. The city’s zoning department recommended approval subject to several conditions. At the city council’s public hearing four council members expressed concerns about the tower, and a motion to deny the application passed unanimously. Two days later, the city sent T-Mobile a denial letter. The letter did not provide reasons, but did explain how to obtain the minutes from the hearing. At that time, only “brief minutes” were available; the city council did not formally approve detailed minutes recounting the council members’ statements until its next meeting, twenty-six days later. T-Mobile filed suit, won in District Court, lost in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court issued its decision on January 14.

The following three points important to local governments result from the Supreme Court decision:

  1.  Local government must provide written reasons for denying a cell tower application. The Court determined that “supported by substantial evidence contained in a written record” imposes upon local governments a requirement to provide written reasons when they deny cell tower applications. The Court explained that it would be extremely difficult for courts to review local decisions on cell towers if localities did not state their reasoning in writing. The Court went on to stress, however, that “these rea­sons need not be elaborate or even sophisticated, but rather…simply clear enough to enable judicial review.” Although not stated by the Court, it remains important that local boards and commissions base their decisions on the criteria found in the local ordinance when approving/denying cell tower applications.
  2. The denial and written reasons do not need to be in the same document; i.e., separate detailed minutes satisfy this requirement. Local governments are not required to provide their reasons in the denial notice itself, but may state those reasons in some other written record. The practice in many communities is to let detailed minutes (or even a verbatim transcript) of hearings stand as the “written record” of board and commission decisions. The Court held that this practice satisfies the “in writing” requirement of the FTA. At the same time the Court gave advice to local governments that “if the locality writes a short statement providing its reasons, the locality can likely avoid prolonging the litigation – and adding expense to the taxpayer, the companies, and the legal system – while the parties argue about exactly what the sometimes voluminous record means.”
  3.  If the decision and written reasons are in separate documents they must be issued “essentially contemporaneously.” The Court further determined, however, that because the FTA requires a wireless company challenging a denial to commence its lawsuit within 30 days of the denial, the denial and written reasons, if separate documents, must be issued “essentially contemporaneously.” “Because an entity may not be able to make a considered decision whether to seek judicial re­view without knowing the reasons for the denial …the locality must provide or make available its written reasons at essentially the same time as it communicates its denial.” The Court suggested that “if a locality is not in a position to provide its reasons promptly, the locality can delay the issuance of its denial … and instead release it along with its reasons once those reasons are ready to be provided.”

The Court concluded that because Roswell did not issue its denial and written reasoning (in the form of minutes) “essentially contemporaneously” it had violated the “in writing” requirement of the FTA.  The case was a loss for Roswell, but for local governments generally it affirms the practice of many local governments that do not issue formal denials containing the rationale for the decision, but instead rely on the minutes for the rationale.

 

cell towers, Telecommunications towers, United States Supreme Court , ,

More cell tower discussion, documents from National League of Cities and NaCO, and a webinar tomorrow

March 24th, 2015

Last November I posted four pieces discussing the FCC’s October 2014 declaratory ruling explaining/interpreting Section 6409(a) of the Spectrum Act (aka the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act), which reads:

[A] state or local government may not deny, and shall approve, any eligible facilities request for a modification of an existing wireless tower or base station that does not substantially change the physical dimensions of such tower or base station.

(Advice: You may need to read or reread the four pieces for the necessary background to follow the rest of this post).

Yesterday I had a good discussion with Dustin Miller of the Iowa League of Cities about how the 60-day deadline for making decisions on “eligible facilities requests” found in the Spectrum Act can be squared with the 90-day deadline for collocations found in the 2009 FCC declaratory ruling. He provided me with copies of some valuable documents that the PCIA and the National League of Cities worked on together and recently released, including a Wireless Facility Siting Model Chapter for local ordinances, and accompanying Cover Sheet and Checklist. With regard to collocations, the 60-day deadline (from date application is filed) found in the Spectrum Act technically only applies to collocations that do not result in a substantial change to the physical dimensions of the existing facility as that term is defined in the 2014 ruling. So for example, deploying a new antenna array that protrudes more than 6 feet from the edge of an existing tower located in the public ROW would not fall under the new ruling (with its 60-day deadline) because that would be a substantial change to the physical dimensions of the tower.  Instead, such an application would be covered by the 90-day deadline for collocations as set forth in the 2009 ruling.

The conversation with Dustin revolved around the hair-splitting that often will be required of local governments to know whether the 60-day or 90-day deadline applies in any given circumstance.  Site plans are not always as detailed as would be necessary to apply the FCC rules, equipment is constantly evolving in a way that muddies the interpretation of the rules, and so on.  At a minimum local governments should require wireless industry applicants to clearly state in their applications whether they believe the 60-day (collocation involving no substantial change) or 90-day (collocation that is a substantial change) deadline applies, and provide substantiating details sufficient for the local government to make its own judgment.  If an application is mistakenly treated as one with a 90-day deadline but belongs in the 60-day category, however, it must be deemed automatically approved any time after the 60th day, upon notification by the applicant.  Of course, disagreement over the 60 vs. 90 judgment in and of itself can give rise to litigation, as the wireless industry will want to establish precedents for putting more types of modifications into the 60-day category.

One potential solution for local governments is the safe approach – Simply apply the 60-day deadline to all collocation requests, whether or not they meet one of the tests for determining substantial change. 

As always, of course, none of this is legal advice.  That is what your city or county attorney provides!

The National League of Cities is sponsoring a webinar tomorrow on the cell tower topic.  This is the relevant information:

Increasing Wireless Communications Services for Your Residents
Wednesday, March 25, 2:00 – 3:15 pm Central Time
To register click here.

Wireless communications services are vital to cities because it improves the ways residents can get online and access information. In an effort to increase Internet access through wireless networks, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has developed a set of rules around wireless siting practices that cities will need to adhere to. Panelists on this webinar will discuss the importance of wireless broadband for their communities and how local governments are getting ready to respond to the new FCC rules.

cell towers, Federal legislation , , , ,

Iowa legislative update March 23

March 23rd, 2015

It starts to get a little crazy, with companion bills, new versions of previously introduced bills, etc.  No guarantees that I have all of the most relevant bills.

Residential occupancy restrictions:  HF161 passed out of the House on a 74-26 vote and was referred to the Senate.  The Senate’s milder version of the residential occupancy restriction bill is now SF458. The Senate version would permit a city to have an occupancy limit, but would require the city to establish a waiver process to allow a property owner to make the claim to the city’s board of adjustment that their property is suitable for occupancy beyond what the city ordinance allows.

Open meetings:  SF384, passed out of the Senate on a 50-0 vote. Among other things, it would now exclude weekends in the calculation of 24-hour notice requirements, and require advisory committees to comply with open meeting requirements, whether or not the advisory committee has any policy-making functions.

Cell towers:  HSB167 is now HF556.  It would provide a uniform set of regulations for the approval of new towers by local governments.  The FCC ruling issued last fall (blogposts here) addressed collocation of facilities and substantial modifications to existing facilities.  This proposed Iowa legislation is directed at new tower siting.

Abandoned nuisance properties:  SF233 passed out of the Senate on a 49-0 vote, and was referred to the House.  The House companion bill is now HF385.  It does a lot of things, but relevant to city planning it adds due process and clarity to the process for addressing abandoned nuisance properties, and expands the reach of the process to commercial properties (currently applies only to residential properties).

Eminent Domain:  SF449, a bill relating to procedures and requirements for condemning property and disposing of certain condemned property, passed out of the Senate 50-0. The bill specifies that the authority to condemn property is not conferred on an acquiring agency unless the governing body for the acquiring agency first approves a preliminary or final route or site location of the proposed public improvement.

Tax abatement for nuisance residential properties:  SF278, a bill that creates an abatement schedule for individuals who want to clean up and redevelop residential properties, passed out of the Senate Ways & Means Committee. It now has a successor bill SF480.  It allows a city or county to grant an exemption of less than 10 years and less than 100 percent of the value added. The amendment also requires the property owner to disclose any and all other sources of public benefit so the local government can know the full context of the economic need.

Rural Improvement Zones:  HF 249 is now HF557, which passed out of subcommittee of Ways and Means.  It would amend the requirements for establishing, financing, and dissolving Rural Improvement Zones

Iowa legislation

News from around North Dakota: Williston P&Z Committee tables $500 million project in the North Dakota oil patch

March 20th, 2015

Stropiq, a Swiss-based real estate company has asked the Williams County Commission (the elected body) to force its Planning and Zoning Committee to make a recommendation on Williston Crossing. a proposed $500 million development on the outskirts of the oil patch hub of Williston, North Dakota.  The project would include 1 million square feet of space for retail, entertainment, office, hotel and housing development.  Stropiq characterizes the development as a regional destination with a water park and other attractions that would draw people from southern Canada, eastern Montana and surrounding areas in North Dakota.

The Williston Planning and Zoning Committee voted to table the proposal in order to study the effects of the development on local resources such as fire protection, utilities, roads, and sewer and water service.

An article from the Williston Herald is here.  US Census Bureau QuickFacts about Williston can be found here.  According to the Census Bureau, the population of Williston grew 41 percent from 2010 to 2013, from 14,787 to 20,850.  How many communities of 15,000 are prepared for 1 million square feet of additional development, let alone cope with the stresses associated with 41 percent population growth in 3 years?  Maybe the the Planning and Zoning Committee is right to get all the facts first on this project before making its recommendation.

current news

Minnesota Buy-the-Farm statute gives landowner discretion in determining size of parcel to be condemned

March 19th, 2015

by Hannah Dankbar

Great River Energy v David D. Swedzinski
Minnesota Supreme Court, March 4, 2015

Great River Energy (GRE) is part of the CapX2020 project, which involves installing a high-voltage transmission line from South Dakota to Minnesota. GRE sought easements of land from Minnesota landowners following Minn. Sta. §216E.12, which gives public utilities the power of eminent domain for their projects. Dale and Janet Tauer are landowners of one of the affected properties (218.85 acres) that they have leased out for farming.

In 2012 GRE first notified the Tauers about its intent to condemn a permanent 8.86-acre easement and a temporary 3.38-acre easement. The Tauers elected to compel GRE to purchase the entire property under Minn. Stat. § 216E.12, subd 4, also known as the “Buy-The-Farm” statute.  The statute gives landowners subject to condemnation proceedings the option to compel the utility to condemn a fee interest in the landowner’s entire parcel of contiguous, commercially viable land, which would make GRE the outright owner of the entire 218 acres.

The relevant section of the Buy-The-Farm statute reads:

When private real property that is an agricultural or nonagricultural homestead, nonhomestead agricultural land, rental residential property, and both commercial and noncommercial seasonal residential recreational property, as those terms are defined in section 273.13 is proposed to be acquired for the construction of a site or route for a high-voltage transmission line with a capacity of 200 kilovolts or more by eminent domain proceedings, the owner shall have the option to require the utility to condemn a fee interest in any amount of contiguous, commercially viable land which the owner wholly owns in undivided fee and elects in writing to transfer to the utility within 60 days after receipt of the notice of the objects of the petition filed pursuant to section 117.055.

GRE did not need, nor want to own the entire parcel in fee simple and so argued to the district court that when the court rules on a landowner’s election under the Buy-the-Farm statute the court must consider other factors in addition to the factors listed in the statute, including the overall reasonableness of the election.

The Minnesota Supreme Court acknowledged that it utilized a “requirement of reasonableness” in a prior case under the statute; however, the Court noted that since that case was decided there have been amendments to the statute. Those amendments limit the factors for courts’ consideration to whether the parcel is “contiguous, commercially viable, and nonhomestead agricultural land.”  Courts cannot inject a “reasonableness” test, nor can the courts consider whether the landowner lives on the parcel, as GRE also argued.  Furthermore, the “in any amount” language leaves the parcel size determination up to the landowner, and does not give the Court discretion to determine the reasonableness of the amount for condemnation.

The Supreme Court affirmed the lower courts’ rulings in favor of the Tauers.

 

 

Condemnation, Minnesota courts , ,

Upcoming deadlines for Planning and Zoning workshops

March 17th, 2015

Registration deadlines for the upcoming Introduction to Planning and Zoning Workshops:

Ft. Dodge: Workshop March 24, deadline TODAY
Dubuque: Workshop March 30, deadline March 23
Waterloo: Workshop March 31, deadline March 24
Davenport, Workshop April 6, deadline March 30
Fairfield: Workshop April 7, deadline March 31
Johnston: Workshop April 13, deadline April 6

Go to the ‘Intro to Planning and Zoning’ tab at the top of this page to register.

Education/Conferences

Sewage holding tank pumped out by the city does not constitute “city sewer services”

March 16th, 2015

by Hannah Dankbar

Charter Township of Haring v City of Cadillac
Michigan Court of Appeals, March 5, 2015

In the early 2000s the Charter Township of Haring signed an agreement with the city of Cadillac in accordance with MCL 124.22 which allows two or more local units of government to “conditionally transfer property for a period of not more than 50 years for the purpose of an economic development project” by means of “a written contract agreed to by the affected local units.” This contract conditionally transferred property in East Haring over to Cadillac so that Cadillac could provide public safety and infrastructure services for the property. The contract said that the property would belong to the city in 2053, however there was an early termination and reversal clause affecting part of the property, the Boersma parcel.

In relevant part, the early termination clause states:  For the [Boersma parcel], City water and/or City sewer services must be provided no later than 10 years from the effective date of this agreement. In the event that City water and/or City sewer services are not provided within the 10 year term provided above, then the real estate described in this paragraph shall be automatically removed from the terms of this agreement and the jurisdiction for such real estate shall immediately revert to the Township.

The contract was not specific about what constitutes “city water or sewer.” Cadillac did not put in a sewer pipeline that led to the wastewater treatment facility, rather the City installed a self-contained sewage holding tank and a truck was used to pump the sewage in order to transport it to the facility. Haring sued Cadillac in 2003 claiming a breach in the contract, and seeking termination of the contract for failing to install a sewer system.

The early termination clause specified that jurisdiction over the Boersma parcel would “immediately revert” to Haring Township if Cadillac failed to provide the Boersma parcel with “City water and/or City sewer services” within ten years of the agreement. The Township argued that the sewer services that Cadillac provides to Boersma are different, and of lower quality, than the services it provides to the other properties within their jurisdiction. Neither the early termination clause nor the wider contract defined “City sewer services.” The Court of Appeals referred to dictionary definitions of “city,” “sewer,” and “services” to ascertain the “plain and ordinary meaning” of the term as used in the agreement.

The infrastructure Cadillac installed on the Boersma parcel merely collects sewage in a holding structure, and leaves the sewage on the property. It does not “carry off waste water and refuse” to another location—the dictionary definition of what a “sewer” does…. The fact that Cadillac planned to upgrade the sewage infrastructure on the Boersma parcel militates against finding that the existing infrastructure satisfies the mandates of the early termination clause, because it indicates that Cadillac believes the existing infrastructure to be inadequate in some way—and perhaps not the “sewer” contemplated by the contract.

To meet the conditions of the agreement Cadillac must have installed a sewer pipeline that leads to the wastewater treatment plant within ten years of signing the agreement.  Accordingly, the Court of Appeals found that the property “immediately reverted[ed]” to the Township.

Intergovernmental agreements, Michigan courts, Public sewer and/or water services , ,

Idaho Supreme Court finds real, substantial harm may come to neighbor of proposed multi-story apartment complex if development is approved

March 11th, 2015

by Hannah Dankbar and Gary Taylor

Lusk, LCC v City of Boise
Idaho Supreme Court, February 10, 2015

In fall 2011, Royal Boulevard Associates, LP applied for a conditional use permit (CUP) to build a 352,000 square foot, five-story, multi-family apartment complex called River Edge Apartments. The site is located near Boise State University and is zoned Residential Office with a Design Review Overlay (R-OD). Multi-family housing is allowed at this site, but Boise City Code requires a CUP to build a building that is more than 35 feet tall in an R-OD zone. River Edge was planned to be between 59 and 63 feet tall. Lusk, LLC owns a building next to the proposed site and was therefore entitled to notice of the application for a CUP.

In spring 2012, the Boise Planning and Zoning Commission (Commission) conducted a hearing and unanimously approved the CUP for River Edge. The Commission provided a written explanation for their decision for the height variance and the CUP. Lusk appealed this decision to City Council claiming that the Commission did not adequately address the criteria for a CUP found in the zoning code. Lusk claimed that the proposed building was incompatible with the buildings in the area and that constructing 622 bedrooms and 280 parking spaces would place an “undue burden on transportation and other public facilities in the vicinity” and “the proposed project will adversely affect other property in the vicinity.” The City Council denied this appeal. The District Court affirmed the City Council’s decision and Lusk appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court.

Lusk did not appeal the height variance, just the City Council’s decision affirming the CUP. Lusk argued that because the Commission did not follow the correct procedure for granting the CUP the City Council was wrong to affirm the Commission’s decision.  Lusk argued that the district court erred in affirming the City Council’s decision because: (1) the Commission’s approval did not follow the legal procedure, (2) the decision was not supported by substantial evidence in the record, and (3) the decision was arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion.

Boise City Code requires the Commission to consider the criteria set forth in Boise City Code section 11-06-04.13 before approving a height exception.  It states, in part, that the Commission must find that “the site is large enough to accommodate the proposed use and all yards, open spaces, pathways, walls and fences, parking, loading, landscaping and other features as are required by this title.” Idaho Code §67-6512(d)(7) provides that “conditions may be attached” to a CUP “requiring more restrictive standards than those generally required in an ordinance.” The Boise City Code also requires that the Commission determine “that the proposed use…will not adversely affect other property of the vicinity.”

Lusk argued that the Boise Code requires the Commission to determine whether planned parking is adequate for the proposed project before granting a conditional use permit.  The question is whether the Commission recognized that it possessed the discretionary authority to impose parking requirements beyond the minimum established by the Parking Chapter of the code. The record unambiguously demonstrated that the Commission failed to perceive that it had discretion to require additional parking as a condition of approval of the CUP. A staff member of Boise City Planning and Development Services said that the issue of parking is not before the Commission, rather the question of variance for a height exception and the Boise River System Permit were the only questions that can be addressed.

The Commission failed to recognize that Idaho statutes and the Boise City Code provided it with discretion to require the project to provide on-site parking beyond the minimum required by the Parking Chapter. As a result of this failure to apply governing legal standards, the Commission refused to consider the adverse effects on property in the vicinity. The Court found that the decision reflected an abuse of discretion.

The Court, deciding that the Commission abused its discretion, then had to consider whether Lusk identified prejudice to their substantial rights.  Under Idaho caselaw, a party opposing a landowner’s request for a development permit has no substantial right in seeing someone else’s application adjudicated correctly. He or she must be in jeopardy of suffering substantial harm if the project goes forward, such as a reduction in the opponent’s land value or interference with his or her use or ownership of the land.  Without even attempting to evaluate the impact of guests who arrive by automobile, if only half of the River Edge tenants have an automobile, there will be significant numbers of residents looking for parking in the vicinity.  The potential devaluation of petitioner’s property, time and expense to police parking on petitioner’s property, and inconvenience to employees and visitors to the property suggest the real potential for substantial harm.  The Court concluded that there was sufficient evidence that Lusk is in jeopardy of economic harm from the project to satisfy the requirements set forth in Idaho caselaw.

The Idaho Supreme Court reversed the district court’s decision to affirm the city’s CUP approval.

Conditional Uses/Special Uses, Idaho courts, standing , ,

Latest legislative activity (and a good amount of it)

March 9th, 2015

SF233 passed out of the Senate on a 49-0 vote, and was referred to the House.  It does a lot of things, but relevant to city planning it adds due process and clarity to the process for addressing abandoned nuisance properties, and expands the reach of the process to commercial properties (currently applies only to residential properties).

SSB1218 is the Senate’s version of the residential occupancy restriction bill (the House version is HF161).  The Senate version passed out of Local Government committee on a 10-4 vote. The Senate version would permit a city to have an occupancy limit, but would require the city to establish a waiver process to allow a property owner to make the claim to the city’s board of adjustment that their property is suitable for occupancy beyond what the city ordinance allows. If they can meet the other requirements put in place by a city, then the city may grant them additional occupancy.

SF384, the successor to SSB1073, passed out of the Senate State Government committee unanimously. Among other things, it would now exclude weekends in the calculation of 24-hour notice requirements, and require advisory committees to comply with open meeting requirements, whether or not the advisory committee has any policy-making functions.

HSB167 passed out of the House Commerce committee.  It would provide a uniform set of regulations for the approval of new towers by local governments.  The FCC ruling issued last fall (blogposts here) addressed collocation of facilities and substantial modifications to existing facilities.  This proposed Iowa legislation is directed at new tower siting.  I will provide a more detailed review if/when it progresses.

HF249 a companion to SF 128, passed out of House Local Government committee.  It would amend the requirements for establishing, financing, and dissolving Rural Improvement Zones.

HF457 would require the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to collect information and submit an annual report to the Iowa Legislature about the amount of current and future anticipated debt for cities related to water and wastewater infrastructure. It also prohibits the environmental protection commission from adopting rules that are more restrictive than he federal Water Pollution Control Act, the federal Clean Water Act, and the federal Safe Drinking Water Act relating to wastewater or storm water system or plant construction designs unless the commission determines that more restrictive requirements are necessary to protect public health or the environment.

HF195 passed out of the House Economic Growth subcommittee.  It limits the grounds for designating an area as an urban revitalization area, striking many of the stated reasons for such a declaration from Iowa Code 404.1(2).  Also amends approval requirements.

SF152 - Passed out of Senate Judiciary subcommittee.  It provides, among other things, that the authority to condemn property is not conferred on an acquiring agency unless the governing body for the acquiring agency first approves the final route or site location and design of the proposed public improvement.

Iowa legislation