In a session slowed by a divided house and senate, the Iowa legislature has recently moved some land use-related bills forward.
HF 603 (formerly HF 64) passed the house by a vote of 91-6 on March 22 and has been messaged over to the senate. It makes a number of changes to eminent domain authority. Among those, it generally raises the bar for most state agencies by requiring a showing of public use/public purpose by clear and convincing evidence (a higher standard than previous). It also increases the procedural requirements for condemnation for lakes, prohibits condemnation of land on historic register, limits cities use of eminent domain outside city limits, and severely limits condemnations to aquire recreational lands. There are more details to it. It is worth reading.
SF 321 passed the house 91-8. This bill provides for on-farm processing operations which manufacture products from commodities originating from that farm or another farm such as a dairy, creamery, winery, distillery, or cannery. The bill requires the DNR to adopt standards for the disposal of wastewater or septage from that operation. The standards for disposal of wastewater must provide for disposal by land application, at a wastewater treatment system, through a subsurface absorption system, or through a disposal system that discharges into a public water. The department must also adopt by rule standards for the disposal of septage to a septage lagoon or septage drying bed.
SF 489, the bill to implement the recommendations of the Smart Planning Taskforce report from November 2010, has been referred to a senate appropriations subcommittee.
HF 300 has been assigned to a subcommittee in the House Ways and Means Committee. Its companion bill in the senate (SF 395) has also been referred to a subcommittee of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. HF 300 would keep platted lots assessed as acreage or unimproved property until improved with permanent construction. Right now a platted lot is assessed as residential 3 years after platting or upon development, whichever comes first. From a planning perspective, this bill has the potential to promote sprawl. In other states with assessment rules similar to what is proposed, it has been shown to result in buy and hold by developers because there is no negative tax consequence to speculation on the fringe of urban areas.