Archive for the ‘Iowa legislation’ Category

Flood mitigation program sent to Governor

April 18th, 2012

SF 2217 passed both houses, and was sent to the Governor Monday for his signature.  It establishes a flood mitigation program and a flood mitigation board to review proposed flood mitigation projects and authorize funding for approved projects. The bill also establishes two funding sources, a Flood Mitigation Fund and a Sales Tax Increment Fund, to provide funding for flood mitigation projects. The Flood Mitigation Fund will consist of appropriations and other moneys. The Sales Tax increment Fund will receive deposits of increased sales tax revenues from impacted areas, as calculated by the Department of Revenue. The Flood Mitigation Board will determine the funding source and amounts allocated to applicants for approved projects.

The Legislative Services Agency provides a more detailed description of the bill in its fiscal analysis, found here.

Flood mitigation or recovery, Iowa legislation , ,

More bills, little movement

February 22nd, 2012

The first funnel deadline is rapidly approaching, but little action has taken place on any of the bills – other than commercial property taxes – that we have been following.  Some more recently introduced bills of interest include:

HF 2221 allows an assessor to assign more than one classification to a mixed use parcel of property, and specifically allows a residential classification for a portion of a building used as a residence that is situated on stories above the ground floor and a proportionate share of the land upon which the building or structure is situated, even if the residence is not the primary use of the building or structure, so long as the building or structure consists of three or fewer stories and not less than 75 percent of the structural components of the building or structure are more than 30 years old.

HF 2179 clarifies the filing requirements for petitions to the city development board involving involuntary city development action by specifying that a petition for incorporation must be filed with the city development board by 5 percent of registered voters of a territory involved in the proposal, and a petition for discontinuance or boundary adjustment must be filed with the city development board by 5 percent of the residents of the city.  Current law allowing petitions for incorporation, discontinuance, or boundary adjustments to also be filed by a city council, a county board of supervisors, or a regional planning authority involved in the proposal remains in place.

HF 2254 modifies eminent domain. It would prohibit the removal of a property from the state historic register solely for the purposes of allowing it to be condemned, unless it is the Iowa DOT that is proposing to condemn.  Properties on the state historic register could only be condemned after a 2/3 affirmative vote in both the Iowa House and Senate, and approval by the governor.  The bill would also tighten the use of condemnation for lake projects in a number of ways, including requiring more extensive engineering studies, and a requirement that the condemning agency offer the property for sale back to the original owner after 2 years from date of condemnation if construction on the lake has not “progressed substantially.” The bill would also remove the authority of the Environmental Protection Commission and the DNR to use eminent domain to acquire recreational lands.

HF 2262 – another eminent domain bill, would prohibit the condemnation of property designated as native prairie or as a protected wetland by the DNR, or property established as a forest reservation or a fruit-tree reservation except after a 2/3 affirmative vote in both the Iowa House and Senate, and approval by the governor.

SF 2152 amends a provision enacted in SF 321 during the 2011 legislative session which authorizes the DNR to adopt standards for the disposal of wastewater from an on-farm processing operation which processes commodities into food such as a dairy, creamery, winery, distillery, cannery, bakery, or meat or poultry processor. Iowa Code 455B.172A currently provides that wastewater originating from the operation may be applied on land if a number of requirements are satisfied. The bill eliminates the requirement that the wastewater be land-applied by a person licensed by the department to dispose of sewage pursuant to Code section 455B.172(5).

Iowa legislation

Bill modifying special assessment practices introduced

February 8th, 2012

We have had several cases recently addressing the proper considerations for calculating special assessments (case summaries can be found here and here and here).  HF 2178 if passed, will change/clarify the calculation of special assessments by cities, counties and sanitary districts in a number of ways.  The major elements of the bill include:

Prior to the adoption of a preliminary resolution related to a public improvement, a city must adopt an ordinance setting forth the method to be used in determining the amount of “individual benefit,” “district benefit,” and “community benefit” projected to result from the public improvement and a description of the manner in which the cost of the public improvement will be allocated to each category of benefit. 

The bill requires that 30 days’ notice be published prior to adoption of the preliminary resolution related to a public improvement, and requires the preliminary resolution to contain a detailed description of the method laid out in the ordinance, an estimate of the amount of individual benefit,  district benefit, and community benefit that will be conferred as a result of the public improvement, and the proportion of the total cost of the public improvement which the council proposes to assess against property within the special assessment district.

The bill adds definitions for “community benefit”, “district benefit”, and “individual benefit”, and adds storm water management intakes, sewers, and facilities and traffic-control devices, fixtures, connections, and facilities to the definition of “street improvement.”

All of the following public improvements are presumed to confer an individual benefit on a lot within a district:

a. A public improvement that benefits, serves, or that is intended for use by only one lot, unless such public improvement is replacing an existing public improvement of acceptable or working quality and is required as a result of  work on or repair of another public improvement that does not benefit, serve, or that is not intended for use by only that lot. 

b. A sidewalk upon a lot that is single-family residential property located along the frontage of the lot not to exceed four feet in width at a standard thickness.

c. A sidewalk on a lot that is commercial property or multifamily residential property located along the street frontage of the lot not to exceed six feet in width at a standard thickness.

d. Underground gas, water, heating, sanitary sewer, storm sewer, and electrical connections and accessories located in a public street right-of-way and that serve only the lot.

All of the following public improvements are presumed to confer a community benefit:

a. A public improvement or part of a public improvement that is intended for use by or intended to serve lots outside the district.

b. A sidewalk or recreational trail, or part thereof, that is part of a community-wide public recreational trail system.

c. The portion of a sidewalk that exceeds the portion of the sidewalk presumed to be an individual benefit

d. The planning, legal, administrative, and inspection costs, including city employee salary costs, associated with a public improvement that is paid for in part by special assessments.

The bill amends the definition of “district” to mean “the lots or parts of lots within boundaries of a geographic area established by the council for the purpose of the assessment of all or part of the cost of a public improvement that is intended in whole or in part to provide an individual benefit to such lots or parts of lots.”

The bill specifies that the total cost of a public improvement, except for certain paving near railroad tracks or improvements to be otherwise paid, may be assessed against all lots within the assessment district to the extent of the individual benefits conferred upon the property, and states that the portion of the total cost of a public improvement that is not assessed to individual lots as the result of individual benefits is attributable to the community benefit and shall be paid by the city. The bill allows a property owner to divide property that is subject to a special assessment into two or more lots for the purpose of separating improved portions of the land from those portions of the land which are unimproved or used for agricultural purposes. 

The bill designates certain public improvements that are presumed to confer an individual benefit and designates certain public improvements that are presumed to confer a community benefit. Under the bill, the planning, legal, administrative, and inspection costs, including city employee salary costs, associated with a public improvement that is paid for in part by special assessments may not be assessed to individual lots within a district and shall instead be paid by the city as a community benefit. 
The bill requires each city undertaking a street improvement paid for in whole or in part by a special assessment to complete a vehicle traffic analysis and forecast for the location of the proposed street improvement.  The traffic study must estimate future traffic generated by the lots in the district, and traffic generated by sources other than the lots within the district, based on the type of street being analyzed, completion of the public improvement, full development of the district, and future planned land use within the district. The individual benefit accruing to each lot within the district as the result of the street improvement shall not exceed the percentage of the total benefit from the street improvement that is proportionate to the lot’s forecasted amount of traffic generated

Iowa legislation, special assessments ,

More new bills introduced

February 4th, 2012

SF 2047 would amend Iowa Code 303.34(3)  to allow a city with an historic preservation commission to appoint one member to the commission who is not a city resident or property owner if that member meets certain professional qualification standards defined by rule by the department of cultural affairs.

HSB 536 would amend Iowa Code 68B.22(4), commonly known as the gift law.  The gift law includes a list of exceptions that makes an otherwise impermissible gift permissible.  Currently, one of the exceptions is for food, beverages,  registration, travel, and lodging for a meeting, which is given  in return for participation in a panel or a speaking engagement at the meeting when the expenses relate directly to the day or days on which the donee has participation or presentation responsibilities. The bill would limit the exception to situations where the public official is an actual speaker, not merely a participant.  The bill would also limit the definition of “entertainment” in another exception so that it does not include “admission to a sporting event, concert, theatrical performance, or other similar type of event or performance….”

SSB 3089 would add a new section to Iowa Code 364.17 that would allow a city to adopt housing code provisions related to sprinkler systems in rental housing. Any such housing code provisions could only apply to newly constructed rental units or substantially renovated rental units. The bill states that “substantially renovated” means renovations that include repairs or improvements to more than 50 percent of the rental unit.

SSB 3090 would create an amendment to Iowa Code 414.1 allowing a city to regulate and restrict the occupancy of residential rental property on the basis of square footage, but disallowing ordinances that regulate the occupancy  of residential rental property based upon the familial or nonfamilial relationships of occupants, presumably in response to the Ames Rental Property Association v. City of Ames (link to summary here) case decided by the Iowa Supreme Court in 2007.

SSB 3091 would rename the Iowa Geological and Water Survey as the Sandrock Center for Land and Water Science.  It would make the director a gubernatorial appointee, rather than an appointee of the director of the DNR as it now stands.  the Sandrock Center is to be located in or near to Iowa City, and the University of Iowa shall cooperate with the director of the center to provide office space and staffing assistance.

Ethics, Historic preservation, Housing, Iowa legislation, Rental ordinances ,

New legislative session. Commercial property taxes, TIF will dominate.

January 24th, 2012

A quick rundown of the bills introduced thus far that have some relevance to planning.  If anyone is aware of others that I may have overlooked please comment below.

HF 20 – Exempts from lining requirements sanitary landfills that accept only construction and demolition waste.

HF 507 – Exempts municipal housing projects from “sanitary and building laws, ordinances, and regulations, including any inspections resulting from such laws, ordinances, and regulations, applicable to the locality in which the project is situated”

HF 613 – restricts the ability of cities and counties to adopt and enforce ordinances which distinguish between persons living in owner-occupied housing and persons living in rental properties, or which distinguishes residential property based on whether it is owner-occupied or leased.

HF 690 – allows a city or county to exempt vacant commercial property (‘vacant’ for at least the six months prior to the adoption of the exemption) from commercial property taxes if the property regularly attracts unauthorized use, is declining in assessed value, or is determined to be a nuisance.

HF 2051 – adds fish to list of animals considered by confinement feeding operations regulations, but also allows a person who exclusively confines fish as part of a confinement feeding operation to elect to comply with the state’s general permitting requirements pertaining to water quality instead of the confined feeding operations regulations.

HSB 500, HF 671, HSB 519 (the Governor’s proposal) all address commercial property tax reform, but in different ways.

HSB 540 – is a comprehensive revision of urban renewal law and TIF.  It is 80 pages long.  What I see in a quick review includes a prohibition against creating any new urban renewal districts after the enactment of the bill.  Chapter 403 would be replaced by new chapter 402, and new ‘project development plans’ would take the place of urban renewal plans.  All existing districts, except for those with a 20-year expiration, would expire June 30, 2023.  New chapter 402 makes some significant changes to TIF, which I will need to detail in a later post.

SF 2014 – allows the DOT or a county to alter, change or deepen a watercourse to reduce flooding without falling under DNR statutes and rules.  Allows use of eminent domain for this purpose.

Iowa legislation ,

Coralville and North Liberty agree to annexation moratorium

October 18th, 2011

The North Liberty and Coralville city councils have approved a 10-year annexation moratorium plan that divides the unincorporated land between the two cities into four zones, including one that only can be annexed by North Liberty and one that can only be annexed by Coralville. A third area is limited to voluntary annexations by Coralville, and the final area cannot be annexed by either city and will remain unincorporated.  This agreement settles a boundary dispute that’s been a point of contention since 2006. While the Coralville city council unanimously approved of the agreement, the North Liberty council’s vote was divided, with three council members voting for the plan and two voting against it. The discussion in North Liberty lasted almost two hours, with residents voicing concerns about transportation issues and the potential for high-density development in North Liberty’s annexation area, “while others simply do not want to be annexed into Coralville,” the North Liberty City Administrator said.

The Iowa City Press-Citizen report about the meetings can be found here.  Annexation moratorium agreements are permitted by Iowa Code sec. 368.4.

Annexation, Iowa legislation , ,

Where’s the legislation?

May 18th, 2011

Wonder why we’ve had so few BLUZ reviews of pending Iowa legislation?  The Register tells us.

Iowa legislation ,

Some land use bills moving forward.

March 23rd, 2011

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.

Iowa legislation ,

March 1 legislation status check

March 1st, 2011

The funnel deadline for bills to keep moving (must be passed out of a committee) is Friday, March 4.  SSB 1068, the study bill that carries many of the recommendations of the Smart Planning Taskforce,  passed out of the State Government Committee on February 28 (the link is not to the current as-amended version).  SSB 1068 will now receive a Senate File number.

SF 321 is the successor bill to SF 269, discussed below, concerning wastewater discharges by on-farm processing operations.  It also passed out of committee yesterday.

Bills recently introduced, but not yet through committee:

SF 297 and SF 336 both deal with the notification requirements of meetings of the boards of condominium and homeowners associations.

HF 430 would protect agricultural operations from nuisance suits under certain circumstances (commonly referred to as a right-to-farm law.  NOTE: the Iowa Supreme Court struck down Iowa’s previous right-to-farm law in a nationally-famous case, Bormann v. Kossuth County, in the 1990s).

HF 413 would provide a property tax exemption for commercial property in an urban revitalization area that has been vacant for more than six months and meets other criteria.

HF 388 would no longer allow cities to adopt ordinances providing for the use of a designated amount of the increased local  sales and services tax revenues attributable to retail  establishments in an urban renewal area to fund urban renewal  projects located in that area.  Existing ordinances could be amended or repealed only.

HF 357 would change the authority of city zoning boards of adjustment to grant variances, by allowing the granting of area variances upon a showing of ‘practical difficulties’ rather than unnecessary hardship.

Iowa legislation ,

Smart planning survives. More new bills introduced.

February 22nd, 2011

HF 45  which contained the repeal of Smart Planning as it left the Iowa House of Representatives, was amended and passed by both the Senate and House without the Smart Planning repeal.  Smart Planning lives. 

Other recently introduced bills:

SF 269:  A bill for an act relating to wastewater discharges by on=farm processing operations  (companion bill is HF 295).
SF 246:  increases penalties for knowing violations of the open records and open meetings laws, and creates the Iowa public information board.
HF 341: Eliminates the Climate Change Advisory Council and the requirement that the DNR provide the governor with an annual report on greenhouse gas emissions. 
HF 319: Exempts 100-year old houses from residential property taxes if more than 50 percent of structure is original.
HF 305: Prohibits the DNR, any city, county, or other governnmental entity from using a FEMA floodplain map for any purpose unless that specific map has been approved by the state legislature. 
HF 300:  Provides that a platted lot will be assessed as acreage or unimproved property until the lot is actually improved with permanent construction  (eliminates “or three years from recording of plat, whichever comes first” language from 441.72).

Iowa legislation ,