Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Minnesota Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals defining AIM Development, LLC's nonconforming-use rights on a property containing a facility for nonhazardous, non-toxic industrial waste based on the terms of a state permit in effect at the time that it purchased the property, holding that a property owner's nonconforming-use rights are defined by the uses lawfully existing at the time of the adverse zoning change.In 2013, AIM Development purchased the property containing the waste facility, which had operated as a nonconforming use since 1989. At issue was the scope of AIM Development's nonconforming-use rights and whether the waste facility may accept waste from more than one source. Based on the terms of a state permit in effect when AIM Development purchase the property the court of appeals determined that the facility was limited to accepting waste from a recently demolished paper mill. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the court of appeals erred in defining the scope of the nonconformity by the state permit; and (2) accepting waste from more than one source does not, standing alone, constitute an impermissible expansion of AIM Development's nonconforming-use rights. View "AIM Development (USA), LLC, Appellant, v. City of Sartell" on Justia Law

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In this challenge to a zoning ordinance prohibiting industrial mineral operations within Winona County the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the order of the district granting summary judgment to the County on all of Minnesota Sands, LLC's claims, holding that the ordinance was constitutional.Minnesota Sands, a mining company, sought to mine and process silica sand in the County. Minnesota Sands sued the County requesting declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief. The district court granted summary judgment to the County. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the ordinance did not violate the dormant Commerce Clause or work an unconstitutional taking of Minnesota Sands' property interests. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Minnesota Sands had standing to bring this case; (2) the County's ordinance did not violate the dormant Commerce Clause on its face, in purpose or in effect; and (3) Minnesota Sands' takings claims failed because the property interests it claimed were taken by the County had not yet accrued. View "Minnesota Sands, LLC v. County of Winona, Minnesota" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court dismissing Appellants' action seeking judicial review of a zoning variance granted by the Town of Duluth to Charles and Carol Danielson-Bille (the Billes), holding that the Billes should have been joined as a necessary party under Minn. R. Civ. P. 19.01.The Billes sought to build a retirement home on Lake Superior. The Town of Duluth Board of Supervisors granted a zoning variance. In appealing the decision, Appellants properly served Duluth within the thirty-day appeal period set forth in the local Duluth ordinance that authorized judicial review of the zoning variance decision but failed to serve the Billes within the same thirty-day period. Duluth and the Billes filed motions to dismiss, asserting that service was improper. The district court dismissed Billes from the case because they had not been timely served and then dismissed the entire action with prejudice, determining that the Billes were a necessary and indispensable party under Rule 19.01 and that the action could not proceed without them. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred by dismissing the action rather than joining the Billes to the action under Rule 19.01. View "Schulz v. Town of Duluth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the order of the district court vacating the order of the Chief Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) that approved an annexation of certain property by the City of Proctor, holding that an orderly annexation agreement does not limit the authority of non-parties to the agreement to annex by ordinance property subject to the agreement.The City of Duluth and Midway Township entered into an orderly annexation agreement pursuant to Minn. Stat. 414.0325 regarding designated property in Midway and governing future annexations of that property by Duluth. Later, the owners of some of the designated property petitioned Proctor, a non-party to the agreement, to annex their property by ordinance pursuant to Minn. Stat. 414.033. Proctor did so, enacting an ordinance to that effect. The Chief ALJ issued a decision ruling that Proctor's annexation by ordinance was valid. The district court vacated the ALJ's decision, holding that Minn. Stat. 414.0325(1)(e) prevents annexations-by-ordinance of property within a designated area. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that orderly annexation agreements created under section 414.0325 do not prevent non-parties from annexing property by ordinance under section 414.033. View "In re Annexation of Certain Real Property to the City of Proctor from Midway Township" on Justia Law

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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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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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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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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