SD zoning bill championed by Noem signed into law

Supporters say the bill will provide more certainty in the zoning process.

The South Dakota Legislature passed a new zoning bill that supporters say will simplify the zoning process. Gov. Kristi Noem signed the bill on March 18, 2020. Photo taken Feb. 7, 2019, in Pierre, S.D. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)

PIERRE, S.D. — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on March 18 signed legislation she had recommended to streamline planning and zoning across the state.

Agriculture, energy and business groups lined up to support the bill throughout the legislative process. Supporters explained cases where the appeals process for development projects went on years or where people pulled out and moved their projects to others states.

“All of us have seen how broken this process is,” Noem told the Senate State Affairs Committee Feb. 19.

Senate Bill 157, according to bill supporters, provides clarity around the existing permitting law while simplifying the voting process for conditional use permits, improving the appeals process and keeping zoning decisions a matter for local control. The bill also establishes a “person aggrieved” in a zoning decision must be someone who is directly interested in the outcome and affected by the decision of action or failure to act.

The bill passed both chambers of the South Dakota Legislature by wide margins, with the Senate passing it 24-11 and the House 45-22. The Senate joined in a slight amendment passed by the House before moving the bill on to Noem’s desk.


While opponents of the bill, including the Sierra Club and Dakota Rural Action, said the new provisions would weaken local control and limit the ability of groups to speak out against projects, agriculture groups said the bill would keep control over development in the hands of local officials who can take into consideration local issues.

Jenny Schlecht is the director of ag content for Agweek and serves as editor of Agweek, Sugarbeet Grower and BeanGrower. She lives on a farm and ranch near Medina, North Dakota, with her husband and two daughters. You can reach her at or 701-595-0425.
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