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Nonconforming Use Bill Introduced - February 13, 2019

HSB 100/SSB 1141 was recently introduced to protect the property rights of real estate owners, including manufactured housing communities. Specifically, this bill prohibits a city or county from enforcing any ordinance or restriction that would prevent the continuance of a property owner’s lawful preexisting nonconforming use unless the use has been abandoned or substantially enlarged, or the discontinuance of the use is necessary for safety purposes. On February 13, 2019, Attorney Jodie McDougal spoke at the Capitol, as a subject matter expert, to the subcommittee reviewing this bill, educating the Senators on the current law regarding nonconforming uses.

Particularly in regard to manufactured housing communities, there have been certain struggles with ensuring landowner rights are protected. When zoning ordinances and other laws change, existing parks are allowed under the current law to follow the old law as a “lawful nonconforming use.”  However, issues have arisen when a park wants to bring in a new home to replace an existing home that has been moved out of the park by a departing resident or removed because the home is in disrepair. In these situations, parks should be allowed to replace these homes, so long as the replacement of the home does not result in the overall nature of the park’s nonconforming use being substantially enlarged. This will help ease this burden on manufactured housing communities by ensuring that cities and counties follow the existing case law by codifying such case law under the Iowa Code.

Specifically, the bill, in pertinent part, provides: When there is a replacement of a preexisting mobile home with another mobile home within a mobile home park, any lawful nonconforming use that existed relating to the preexisting home shall not be deemed to have been enlarged or extended except when the overall nature and character of the present use are substantially or entirely different from the original lawful preexisting nonconforming use.

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