St. Paul, MN - Yesterday, a Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that Minneapolis must revert to its 2030 Comprehensive Plan, the latest update in a multi-year litigious battle that calls to question whether cities must complete a complex environmental review of their comp plans. State Rep. Michael Howard (DFL – Richfield), Chair of the Housing Finance and Policy Committee in the Minnesota House, released a statement, saying it is more important than ever that the legislature take action on this issue.
“Without legislative action, ‘NIMBY’s’ cloaked as environmentalists will continue to use frivolous litigation and other tools to uphold the status quo of exclusionary housing policies that perpetuate racial disparities in housing and limit our ability to address climate change,” said Rep. Howard. “Next year it’s vital we pass legislation that clarifies the law so that communities are better able to create an inclusive vision for the future where we plan for and build more homes and do so in a climate-conscious manner.”
It is stated in the rules implementing the Minnesota Environmental Protection Act that comprehensive plans and zoning are exempt from the environmental review process that is required for development on a project-by-project basis because they do not have any direct effects and are followed by other governmental implementation action. The lawsuit regarding the Minneapolis Comp Plan challenges this premise citing other areas of the law.
Last year, the Minnesota House passed a provision that would clarify this conflict in statutes in its omnibus Housing Bill, however the bill did not become law. It was also introduced as a stand-alone bill (HF 2004). Mayors from metro cities supported this legislation, including the mayors of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Brooklyn Park, Crystal, Hopkins, Robbinsdale, and Richfield. Climate advocates including MN 350 also wrote letters of support.
“A broad coalition of local leaders, housing and environmental justice advocates see the virtue in smarter and more inclusive housing policy – it’s time for the legislature to listen and act accordingly,” said Rep. Howard.