Articles Posted in Zoning, Planning & Land Use

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Two churches (the Churches) located in the City of Saint Paul were subject to a right-of-way assessment (ROW assessment) that the City assessed to nearly every owner of real property within the city limits to pay for public right-of-way maintenance services. The Churches appealed their 2011 ROW assessment, arguing that the charge was a tax and was not imposed uniformly upon the same class of property and that the assessed amount improperly exceeded the special benefit to the Churches’ properties. The district court upheld the assessments after applying a reasonableness test, concluding that the ROW was not a tax imposed under the City’s taxing power but was a fee imposed under the City’s police power and, therefore, was not subject to constitutional restrictions on taxation. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the ROW assessment was imposed as an exercise of the City’s taxing power rather than its police power; and (2) summary judgment was inappropriate because a genuine issue of material fact existed regarding the extent of special benefits to the Churches’ properties attributable to the right-of-way services. View "First Baptist Church of St. Paul v. City of St. Paul" on Justia Law

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In 2005, the City of Winona enacted the thirty-percent rule, which limits the number of lots on a block in certain areas of the City that are eligible for certification as rental properties. Appellants brought this action challenging the rental ordinance, claiming that the thirty-percent rule is a zoning law that exceeds the City’s power authorized by Minn. Stat. 462.357 and violates their equal protection and substantive due process rights. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the City, concluding that the ordinance is not unconstitutional and that the City had authority to enact it. The court of appeals affirmed. Appellants filed a petition for review. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that Appellants' claims had become moot because, under the facts and circumstances of this case, the alleged harm to Appellants’ interests had ceased. View "Dean v. City of Winona" on Justia Law

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RDNT, LLC, which provided assisted living and skilled nursing services, owned a campus consisting of two buildings. RDNT submitted an application to the City of Bloomington for a conditional use permit, seeking to expand its services by adding a third building to the campus. The City Council denied RDNT’s application, giving four reasons for its decision. The district court reversed the denial of RDNT’s application, holding that the City misapplied certain standards, misrepresented the impact of certain studies, and ignored certain evidence. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the City appropriately exercised its discretion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the City’s decision was not unreasonable arbitrary or capricious, as the City based its decision on a legally and factually sufficient ground, and the City properly considered RDNT’s proposed traffic-mitigating conditions. View "RDNT, LLC v. City of Bloomington" on Justia Law

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Skyline Materials applied for a variance from the setback requirements of Houston County's zoning ordinance. The County granted the variance. Respondents, owners of property that was adjacent to the property owned by Skyline, sought to exercise their statutory right of appeal. The parties, however, disagreed as to the proper method of service. The district court concluded that Minn. R. Civ. P. 5.02, rather than Minn. R. Civ. P. 4.03, controlled, and therefore, the court had jurisdiction over Respondents' appeal. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Respondents were required to effect service pursuant to Rule 4.03, and because they did not do so, the district court lacked jurisdiction to hear their appeal. Remanded for dismissal. View "In re Application of Skyline Materials, Ltd. for Zoning Variance" on Justia Law

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Wapiti Park Campgrounds, Inc. operated a campground on land in the City of Elk River. The City enacted a series of zoning ordinances that first allowed campgrounds as a conditional use and then removed campgrounds as either a conditional or a permitted use. Wapiti Park obtained a conditional-use permit from the City while campgrounds were allowed as a conditional use. The City later revoked the conditional-use permit and asserted that Wapiti Park was no longer authorized to operate the campground. Wapiti Park filed this action against the City. The district court determined that Wapiti Park's operation of the campground was a nonconforming use that could not be terminated by revocation of the conditional-use permit. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the City lacked the statutory authority to terminate Wapiti Park's nonconforming use as a campground by revoking the conditional-use permit; and (2) the City acted within its authority when it required Wapiti Park to obtain an interim-use permit before approving replacement of a destroyed accessory building and resumption of the regulated use. View "White v. City of Elk River" on Justia Law

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Appellant was a real estate firm that owned a vacant four-story building (the property) and sought to develop it into an office building. Before the Minneapolis City Council approved Appellant's site plan application, the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission (Commission) nominated the property for designation as a local historic landmark. Appellant subsequently submitted an application for a certificate of appropriateness to the Commission. The City Council denied the application and subsequently designated the property as a local historic landmark. Plaintiff commenced this action against the City, alleging that the City violated Minn. Stat. 15.99(2)(a) by failing to approve or deny the application for a certificate of appropriateness within sixty days. The district court granted summary judgment for the City, concluding that section 15.99(2)(a) did not apply to an application for a certificate of appropriateness. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that an application for a certificate of appropriateness is a "written request relating to zoning" under section 15.99(2)(a), and because the City failed to approve or deny Appellant's application within sixty days, summary judgment for the City was not proper. Remanded. View "500, LLC v. City of Minneapolis" on Justia Law

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This case involved a facial challenge to the constitutionality of the City of Red Wing's rental property inspection ordinance. Appellants were landlords and tenants who brought suit seeking a declaratory that the City's ordinance violated the Minnesota Constitution. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the City, concluding that Appellants lacked standing and that the constitutional claim failed on the merits. The court of appeals affirmed, ruling that Appellants lacked standing. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Appellants' facial challenge presented a justiciable controversy. On remand, the court of appeals again affirmed, this time concluding that the City's ordinance did not violate the state constitution. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the law can be applied constitutionally; and (2) because Appellants did not satisfy their burden in a facial challenge to show that the ordinance operated unconstitutionally in all of its applications, Appellants' facial challenge failed. View "McCaughtry v. City of Red Wing" on Justia Law

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After the City of Moorhead annexed Americana Estates (Americana), a residential subdivision with sixty-five metered electric service accounts, the City filed a condemnation petition to begin municipal electric service to residents of Americana. After a hearing, a three-member commission of the district court awarded the Red River Valley Cooperative Power Association (RRVC), which previously served Americana, $307,214. Both parties appealed the commission's award of damages. After a jury trial, the district court awarded a total compensation award to RRVC of $385,311. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the City's valuation was inconsistent with the plain language of Minn. Stat. 216B.47 by failing to give meaningful consideration to four statutory factors and thus was properly excluded from consideration by the district court; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding portions of an untimely revised report submitted by the City dealing with facility replacement costs. View "City of Moorhead v. Red River Valley Coop. Power Ass'n" on Justia Law

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Central Lakes College (CLC) formally petitioned the City of Brainerd to reconstruct a road. The City validated the petition and resolved to pay for a portion of the project with special assessments. Appellants, who owned property adjacent to the road, challenged the legality of the petition, arguing that because CLC was an instrumentality of the State, and the State cannot be bound by special assessments of its property, CLC was not an "owner" of property permitted to petition for an improvement under Minn. Stat. 429.031(1)(f). The district court granted summary judgment for the City. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) CLC was an "owner" of property under the plain language of the statute; and (2) therefore, CLC's petition was valid. View "City of Brainerd v. Brainerd Invs. P'ship" on Justia Law

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In 2008, Stearns County changed the tax classification of property co-owned by Respondent from residential nonhomestead to commercial. Respondent filed a petition under Minn. Stat. 278.01, claiming the property was misclassified, unequally assessed, and undervalued. The tax court dismissed the petition as untimely. Respondent did not appeal from the tax court's dismissal of its petition and instead filed a verified claim under Minn. Stat. 278.14 for a refund of taxes paid in 2009, claiming the property was misclassified for taxes payable in 2009. The County denied the refund claim. The tax court denied the County's motion to dismiss the section 278.14 appeal (Matter A11-1479). In the meantime, Respondent filed a timely petition under Minn. Stat. 278.01 with respect to property taxes assessed in 2009. The tax court ruled the property was properly classified as residential nonhomestead, its original classification (Matter A11-1480). The County petitioned for writ of certiorari in both matters. The Supreme Court dismissed the writs of certiorari, concluding that it lacked jurisdiction in each case. View "Beuning Family LP v. County of Stearns" on Justia Law