An obscure provision of the House tax bill (H.R. 1, Section 3601) threatens to end a financing tool that has been used by local governments for years to fund critical infrastructure such as airports, seaports, hospitals, educational facilities, affordable housing and tollways, to name a few. Private activity bonds, as they are called, are tax-exempt…

Virtually all local government jurisdictions in the United States follow a development code when evaluating a proposed development application (Houston, Texas is a notable exception, along with rural townships dominated by traditional agricultural uses). Rather than follow the dictates of their respective development codes, however, a growing number of jurisdictions compel that some types of…

Cities throughout Minnesota are busy updating their comprehensive plans, a process that typically occurs every 10 years or so. As a reminder, comprehensive plans serve as the visionary roadmap for a city’s intended long-term growth; the implementing tools are the zoning ordinance, subdivision ordinance and similar policies. Of course, cities have the discretion to amend…

Those of us who advise business clients, including real estate development clients, about state and local regulatory matters are pretty comfortable working under the long-standing division of authority between cities and state or federal regulators. We understand, for example, that local units of government are creatures of the state legislature, with powers limited to the…

Forgive developer Martin Harstad if he thought he was in Potterville and not Woodbury when the city told him he had to pay nearly $1.4 million in “road assessments” as a condition of approval for his “Bailey Park” residential development. Harstad sued Woodbury to challenge its authority to demand the road assessments and won in…