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City of Granite Falls v. Soo Line Railroad Company: EMINENT DOMAIN - condemnation petition jurisdiction; substantial compliance; municipal taking to give to state agency

STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
A07-417
A07-418
City of Granite Falls, petitioner,
Respondent,
vs.
Soo Line Railroad Company, a/k/a SLRCO and SERCO, et al.,
Respondents Below,
Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company, a/k/a BNSF,
Appellant (A07-417),
Twin Cities & Western Railroad Company, a/k/a TC&W,
Appellant (A07-418).
Filed December 24, 2007
Affirmed
Dietzen, Judge
Chippewa County District Court
File No. 12-CV-05-19
Kevin K. Stroup, Ronald E. Seanor, Stoneberg, Giles & Stroup, P.A., 300 OConnell
Street, Marshall, MN 56258 (for respondent City of Granite Falls)
David S. Drach, Canadian Pacific Railway, 501 Marquette Avenue, Box 530,
Minneapolis, MN 55440 (for Soo Line Railroad Company)
Glenn J. Olander-Quamme, Spence, Ricke, Sweeney & Gernes, P.A., 325 Cedar Street,
Suite 600, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for appellant Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway
Company (A07-417))
Thomas V. Seifert, Head, Seifert & Vander Weide, 333 South Seventh Street, Suite 1140,
Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for appellant Twin Cities & Western Railroad Company, a/k/a
TC&W (A07-418))
Susan L. Naughton, League of Minnesota Cities, 145 University Avenue West, St. Paul,
MN 55103 (for League of Minnesota Cities, amicus curiae)
2
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, David L. Phillips, Assistant Attorney General, 1800
Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for State of Minnesota)
Dwayne N. Knutsen, Chippewa County Attorney, 102 Parkway Drive, P.O. Box 514,
Montevideo, MN 56265 (for Chippewa County)
Bradley V. Larson, Metcalf, Larson, Muth & Fleming, P.C., 313 West Broadway, P.O.
Box 446, Monticello, MN 55362 (for Lawrence A. Kreger)
Keith Beito, 3030-110th Street Southeast, Granite Falls, MN 56241 (pro se Granite Falls
Township)
Considered and decided by Dietzen, Presiding Judge; Willis, Judge; and Huspeni,
Judge.*
S Y L L A B U S
1. A condemning authoritys failure to strictly comply with the appraisal and
negotiation requirements of Minn. Stat. 117.036 (2004) does not deprive the district
court of subject-matter jurisdiction over the condemnation petition, provided that the
condemning authority substantially complies with the requirements of the statute.
2. Under chapter 117 of the Minnesota Statutes, a municipality may acquire
property through eminent domain proceedings with the intention of conveying the
property to a state agency, provided that the proposed taking is for a public purpose and
the taking is necessary to effectuate the public use.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to
Minn. Const. art. VI, 10.
3
O P I N I O N
DIETZEN, Judge
In this condemnation proceeding, appellant-landowners challenge a district court
order denying their motions for summary judgment and finding that the proposed taking
is for a public purpose and that the taking is necessary to effectuate the public purpose.
Because we conclude that the district court properly applied the law, we affirm.
FACTS
Respondent City of Granite Falls (the city) is a Minnesota municipal corporation
located in Chippewa County. Appellants BNSF Railway Company (BNSF) and Twin
Cities & Western Railroad Company (TC&W) own property that is the subject of a
condemnation petition filed by the city (the subject property). The city seeks to acquire,
through exercise of its eminent-domain power, a twenty-five-foot-wide easement over
appellants railroad rights-of-way. The citys purpose in acquiring the subject property is
to establish an all-seasons, multi-purpose and non-motorized recreational trail for public
use. But the city has indicated that it will not establish the trail itself; instead, the city
intends to convey the subject property to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
(the DNR), to build and maintain the trail.
The DNR is in the process of establishing similar recreational trails throughout the
state pursuant to legislative directives in chapter 85 of the Minnesota Statutes. The
subject property will be incorporated into a larger trail that runs the entire course of the
Minnesota River, from its headwaters at Big Stone Lake to its confluence with the
4
Mississippi River at Fort Snelling. See Minn. Stat. 85.015, subds. 6, 22 (2006)
(describing the trail corridor along the Minnesota River).
In July 1998, SRF Consulting Group, Inc. conducted a feasibility study of the
subject property, finding that the land was appropriate for a recreational trail.
Subsequently, Short Elliot Hendrickson, Inc. (SEH) conducted a preliminary study of the
feasibility of constructing a trail along the railroad rights-of-way, including the subject
property, and concluded that the trail can be safely designed and constructed on the
railroad right-of-way. SEH sent a letter to a Minnesota House Committee in March
2001, concluding that the engineering of the trail was feasible. That year, the legislature
designated the entire corridor of the Minnesota River Valley as a state trail, thereby
facilitating state investment in the acquisition, development, construction, and
maintenance of trail segments in that corridor. 2001 Minn. Laws 1st Spec. Sess. ch. 2,
84, at 1208.
In April 2005, the city filed its condemnation petition, which incorporated an
earlier city-council resolution authorizing the acquisition of the subject property. The
resolution stated that that the city has spent a great deal of time in public meetings and
in independent research regarding the feasibility of extending a recreational trail from
Wegdahl to Granite Falls, consistent with the State of Minnesotas plans to develop a
state trail along the entire Minnesota River corridor. The city concluded, among other
things, that the SEH report confirmed that the trail could be completed along appellants
existing railroad right-of-way, that a paved trail could be built and used safely by the
public, and that the State would consider bonding for the funds necessary to further plan
5
and acquire, develop, construct and maintain the unfinished corridor between Wegdahl
and Granite Falls, if the State were assured that a local unit of government were
committed to acquiring the real estate interests necessary to the construction. The
resolution also indicated that the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota agreed to lend the
city up to ,000, at no interest, for the purpose of acquiring the land necessary for the
trail. Finally, the city concluded that completion of the trail will add to the general wellbeing
of the economic community of the entire river valley and will add significantly to
retail economic development in downtown Granite Falls. Thus, the city authorized its
attorney to commence negotiations and, if necessary, condemnation proceedings.
During discovery, the city and the DNR admitted that there have been no formal
discussions regarding the transfer of the subject property to the DNR or its use as part of
the Minnesota River Trail. The DNR stated in response to discovery that it is currently
developing a master plan for the Minnesota River State Trail; that the draft plan has not
been formally released for public view and the DNR Commissioner has not approved the
plan; and that the subject property falls within the corridor or search area for the
Minnesota River State Trail identified in the draft plan.
Following discovery, appellants moved for summary judgment. The district court
denied the motions, concluding that the taking was for a public purpose and was
necessary and authorized by law, but changed the proceeding from a quick-take
condemnation under Minn. Stat. 117.042 to a standard proceeding under chapter 117.
This appeal follows.
6
ISSUES
1. Did the district court lack subject-matter jurisdiction over the condemnation
petition?
2. Is the proposed taking for a public purpose and reasonably necessary to
effectuate the public purpose?
ANALYSIS
Appellants challenge the district court order denying their motions for summary
judgment, which order concluded that the court has subject-matter jurisdiction over the
petition and granted the petition for condemnation. Generally, the denial of a motion for
summary judgment is not a final judgment from which an appeal may properly be taken.
Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 103.03. But a district court order finding that a proposed taking
serves a public necessity is an appealable order. County of Blue Earth v. Stauffenberg,
264 N.W.2d 647, 650 (Minn. 1978). The district courts conclusion that it has
jurisdiction over the subject matter of this proceedingalso not a final judgmentis
similarly appealable under McGowan v. Our Saviors Lutheran Church, 527 N.W.2d 830,
833 (Minn. 1995). The remaining issues raised in the appellants briefs are outside the
scope of these exceptions, and thus are not properly before this court. See Alexandria
Lake Area Serv. Region v. Johnson, 295 N.W.2d 588, 590 (Minn. 1980) ([w]e decline to
extend the rule of the Stauffenberg case to situations beyond those involving the issue of
public necessity).
7
I.
The procedure for condemning property through eminent domain is governed by
chapter 117 of the Minnesota Statutes. A condemning authority initiates condemnation
proceedings by filing a condemnation petition in district court and a notice of the
proceedings with the registrar of titles and/or the county recorder. See Minn. Stat.
117.055, .065 (2004). The district court then holds an evidentiary hearing to
determine whether the petition should be granted; and approving the public use or public
purpose, necessity, and authority for the taking. See Minn. Stat. 117.075, subd. 1
(2004).
Appellants argue that the citys failure to strictly comply with the requirements of
Minn. Stat. 117.036 (2004)which imposes pre-petition appraisal and negotiation
requirements on the condemning authoritydeprived the district court of subject-matter
jurisdiction over the petition. The proper construction of a statute is a question of law
that we review de novo. State v. Murphy, 545 N.W.2d 909, 914 (Minn. 1996). The
existence of subject-matter jurisdiction is also a question of law. Neighborhood Sch.
Coal. v. Indep. Sch. Dist. No. 279, 484 N.W.2d 440, 441 (Minn. App. 1992), review
denied (Minn. June 30, 1992).
In the judicial context, jurisdiction refers to [t]he legal power and authority of a
court to make a decision. Blacks Law Dictionary 869 (8th ed. 2004). Subject-matter
jurisdiction involves a courts authority to decide a particular class of actions and its
authority to decide the particular questions before it. Herubin v. Finn, 603 N.W.2d 133,
8
137 (Minn. App. 1999). This concept goes to the heart of a courts legal authority to
decide a case, and unlike personal jurisdiction, the court cannot acquire subject-matter
jurisdiction either by waiver or consent. Schroeder v. Schroeder, 658 N.W.2d 909, 912
(Minn. App. 2003).
A district court acquires subject-matter jurisdiction over an eminent domain
proceeding upon the presentation and filing of a proper condemnation petition.1 Whitely
v. Miss. Water Power & Boom Co., 38 Minn. 523, 525, 38 N.W. 753, 755 (1888);
Housing & Redevelopment Auth. v. Adelmann, 590 N.W.2d 327, 333 (Minn. 1999)
(Anderson, Paul H., J., concurring specially). Appellants admit that a petition was
properly filed but argue that Minn. Stat. 117.036 was clearly intended by the legislature
to be a jurisdictional prerequisite. We construe the words of this statute according to
their plain and ordinary meaning. Minn. Stat. 645.08(1) (2006); State v. Bluhm, 676
N.W.2d 649, 651 (Minn. 2004).
Minn. Stat. 117.036 provides that condemning authorities, before commencing
eminent-domain proceedings to acquire property for transportation facilities, shall:
(1) obtain an appraisal of the property proposed to be acquired, (2) provide a copy of the
appraisal to the landowner, and (3) make a good faith attempt to negotiate personally
with the owner of the property in order to acquire the property by direct purchase instead
1 The contents of a proper petition are prescribed in Minn. Stat. 117.055 (2004).
Appellants do not challenge the petitions compliance with that section.
9
of the use of eminent domain proceedings.2 Appellants argue that strict compliance with
this provision is necessary for a district court to acquire subject-matter jurisdiction over a
condemnation petition. We disagree.
In Housing & Redevelopment Auth. v. Adelmann, our supreme court considered
whether compliance with Minn. Stat. 117.115, subd. 2, which requires notice of the
filing of the commissioners report, is a jurisdictional prerequisite to appealing that
award. 590 N.W.2d at 330. After noting that [n]othing in the text of [the statute] states
that condemning authorities must strictly comply with [its] requirements before a district
court may acquire jurisdiction, the court held that strict compliance with [the statutes
requirements] is not a jurisdictional prerequisite. Id. at 330-31. The courts reasoning is
equally applicable in this case. Like Adelmann, we see no language in section 117.036
that provides strict compliance with the statute by the condemning authority is required
before the court acquires subject-matter jurisdiction.
Appellants argue that State by Lord v. Radosevich supports their position. 249
Minn. 268, 271, 82 N.W.2d 70, 72 (1957) ([i]t is elementary that the right of appeal
under our condemnation proceedings is governed by statute and that, unless the
conditions prescribed by statute are observed, the court acquires no jurisdiction); see
also Woodhall v. State, 738 N.W.2d 357, 362 (Minn. 2007) (failure to comply with the
statute governing appeals from eminent domain proceedings is a jurisdictional defect).
But Radosevich and Woodhall are distinguishable for two reasons. First, the rule
2 Although not directly bearing on this case, we note that this section has since been
amended to govern all condemnation petitions filed under chapter 117. 2006 Minn. Laws
ch. 214, 5, at 198.
10
expressed in those cases is limited to appeals from condemnation commissioners awards
under section 117.145. Neither court addressed the initial filing of the petition, which is
at issue here. Second, the supreme court has repeatedly refused to extend this rule to the
other sections of chapter 117. See Adelmann, 590 N.W.2d at 330-31 (holding strict
compliance with Minn. Stat. 117.115 is not a jurisdictional prerequisite); State by
Lord v. Frisby, 260 Minn. 70, 76-77, 108 N.W.2d 769, 773 (1961) (holding that Minn.
Stat. 117.08 is not a jurisdictional requirement when the provision do[es] not declare
the consequences of a failure of compliance). One commentator has noted that
[d]espite the mandatory character of the negotiation requirement, most courts recognize
that the requirement is excused where negotiations would be useless or futile. 6 Julius
L. Sackman & David M. Jann, Nichols on Eminent Domain 24.13[1][b], at 24204 (3d
ed. 2002).
In City of Minneapolis v. Wurtele, our supreme court noted that rules of strict
compliance will be relaxed when the condemning authority is public rather than
private. 291 N.W.2d 386, 391 (Minn. 1980). The Wurtele court stated:
the law does not mandate in all cases strict and literal
compliance with all procedural requirements. Technical
defects in compliance which do not reflect bad faith,
undermine the purpose of the procedures, or prejudice the
rights of those intended to be protected by the procedures will
not suffice to overturn governmental action.
Id. But in Manco of Fairmont, Inc. v. Town Bd., we clarified that the substantial
compliance doctrine should be restricted to cases in which the statute at issue does not
express[] the consequences of a failure to comply with its provisions. 583 N.W.2d 293,
11
295 (Minn. App. 1998), review denied (Minn. Oct. 20, 1998). Here, the condemning
authority is a public entity, and section 117.036 does not express the consequences for
failure to comply with its provisions. Thus, we conclude that the substantial compliance
doctrine may be applied to the requirements of Minn. Stat. 117.036. We turn then to
examine whether the city substantially complied with the statute.
The district court concluded that the city engaged in some negotiations in 2005
and submitted its appraisal to appellant after filing its petition for condemnation and,
therefore, the city substantially complied with the statute. We agree. While
noncompliance with the statute does not require that the proceedings be invalidated, the
provisions of the statute may not be ignored to the prejudice of the property owner.
Frisby, 260 Minn. at 77, 108 N.W.2d at 773. Here, appellants have not asserted that they
were prejudiced by the citys failure, or that the city acted in bad faith. Further, the city
introduced unrefuted evidence that efforts to voluntarily acquire the property would have
been futile. Thus, the district court did not err in concluding that the city substantially
complied with the statute. But we observe that in the proper case, we would not hesitate
to approve sanctions against a condemning authority for failure to comply with the
statute.
Because we agree the citys actions substantially complied with the requirements
of section 117.036, we do not reach the citys alternative argument that the recreational
trail is not within the class of transportation facilities governed by the statute.
II.
12
Appellants argue that the taking of the subject property for the benefit of the DNR
to develop it as a recreational trail is not necessary to effectuate a valid public use.
The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides in part:
[P]rivate property [shall not] be taken for public use without just compensation. This
restriction on the condemnation of privately owned property is made applicable to the
states through the Fourteenth Amendment. See Chicago, B. & Q. R. Co. v. City of
Chicago, 166 U.S. 226, 17 S. Ct. 581 (1897). The Minnesota Constitution contains a
similar restriction on condemnation in article I, section 13. It provides: Private property
shall not be taken, destroyed or damaged for public use without just compensation
therefor, first paid or secured. Minn. Const. art. I, 13.
Before condemning private land, the condemning authority must determine that
there is a public use for the land and that the taking is reasonably necessary or convenient
for the furtherance of that public use. Lundell v. Coop. Power Assn, 707 N.W.2d 376,
380 (Minn. 2006). Thus, in Housing & Redevelopment Auth. v. Minneapolis Metro. Co.,
our supreme court stated:
Great weight must be given to the determination of the
condemning authority, and the scope of review is narrowly
limited. If it appears that the record contains some evidence,
however informal, that the taking serves a public purpose,
there is nothing left for the courts to pass upon. Courts may
interfere only when the [condemning] [a]uthoritys actions
are manifestly arbitrary or unreasonable.
259 Minn. 1, 15, 104 N.W.2d 864, 874 (1960). Our scope of review is narrow because
the district court gives deference to the determinations of the condemning authority,
which are regarded as legislative actions, and the appellate courts give deference to the
13
findings of the district court using the clearly erroneous standard. Lundell, 707 N.W.2d
at 381.
14
A. Public Use
What constitutes a public use under Minn. Const. art. I, sec. 13 is a judicial
decision. City of Duluth v. State, 390 N.W.2d 757, 763 (Minn. 1986). But our supreme
court has construed the words public use broadly. In City of Duluth v. State, the court
stated:
Historically, the court has used the words public use
interchangeably with the words public purpose, thus
implying that even though a public entity, using its eminent
domain powers, turns over parcels to a private entity for use
by that private entity, the condemnation will, nevertheless, be
constitutional if a public purpose is furthered by such a
transfer of land.
Id. Thus, the court authorized the taking even though the governmental entity transferred
title and ownership of the property to a private entity to develop it. Id. at 764 ([a]s long
as the predominant purpose being furthered is a public one, the condemnation is
constitutional).
Similarly, in City of Minneapolis v. Wurtele, our supreme court upheld the
condemnation of privately held parcels for the construction of a privately owned mall in
downtown Minneapolis. 291 N.W.2d at 388-90. The court deferred to the city council
determination that a downtown mall was essential to maintaining a viable business
district in the city. Id. at 390-91. A public purpose was recognized because there was
evidence that the construction of the mall would create permanent and temporary
employment, generate retail sales, and increase the tax base of the city. Id. Most
recently, in Housing & Redevelopment Auth. v. Walser Auto Sales, Inc., this court
15
affirmed the district courts finding of public purpose in relation to the taking of property
to be transferred to Best Buy Co., Inc. for its construction of a new corporate
headquarters. 630 N.W.2d 662, 669 (Minn. App. 2001), affd, 641 N.W.2d 885 (Minn.
2002).
The same principles apply under the federal constitution. In Haw. Housing Auth.
v. Midkiff, the United States Supreme Court stated that it is only the takings purpose,
and not its mechanics, that must pass scrutiny under the Public Use Clause. 467 U.S.
229, 244, 104 S. Ct. 2321, 2331 (1984). And in Kelo v. City of New London, the Court
held that a city may act as a conduit to transfer property from one private entity to
another and that the economic rejuvenation caused by such redevelopment serves a
public purpose and therefore satisf[ies] the public use requirement of the Fifth
Amendment. 545 U.S. 469, 484, 125 S. Ct. 2655, 2665 (2005).
Respondent and amicus curiae League of Minnesota Cities argue that the same
reasoning should apply to the citys intent to acquire the property and transfer it to the
DNR for development as a recreational trail. Appellants do not dispute that a recreational
trail is a public purpose, but argue that the city lacks the authority, express or implied, to
acquire property for the benefit of the DNR. We disagree. Like the private
redevelopment projects in City of Duluth, Wurtele, Walser, and Kelo, the condemning
authority is acquiring the subject property for a public use. We do not read our takings
jurisprudence to make a distinction based on whether the entity that actually develops the
property for a public purpose is a public or private entity. Rather, we read existing law to
16
focus on whether the proposed use is public or not. Here, the proposed use is clearly
public and not private.
Appellants nonetheless argue that the DNR lacks statutory authority to acquire by
eminent domain this specific portion of the state trail system. We agree that the statute
does not provide the DNR with the power to condemn this portion of the Minnesota
River Trail. Compare Minn. Stat. 85.015, subd. 22 (describing Minnesota River Trail
with no eminent domain authorization), with Minn. Stat. 85.015, subds. 13(c), 14(c)
(authorizing the DNR use of eminent domain for other parts of state trail system). But
the statute does not prohibit the DNR from acquiring land from another public entity to
be used for a lawful public purpose. Had the legislature intended to prohibit the DNR
from acquiring lands from others to develop the recreation trails, it could have done so in
the legislationbut it did not. Consequently, we discern no legislative intent to prohibit
the DNR from doing so. See id., subd. 1(a) (conferring on the DNR broad authority to
establish, develop, maintain, and operate the trails).
Appellants next argue that State ex rel. Ford Motor Co. v. District Court, 133
Minn. 221, 158 N.W. 240 (1916), and Opinion of the Minnesota Attorney General 59a-14
(Dec. 30, 1958) support their position. We disagree.
In Ford Motor Co., our supreme court held that the City of Minneapolis could not
use eminent domain proceedings to acquire land with the intention of conveying the land
to a railroad company for purposes of building a switching track. 133 Minn. at 229, 158
N.W. at 244. At that time, the City of Minneapolis had authority to condemn private
property for streets and alleys but not for a railroad right of way. Id. at 223, 158 N.W. at
17
241. Thus, the court concluded that the ultimate purpose for which the land would be
used was beyond Minneapoliss condemnation authority. Now, 91 years later, the city
undisputably does have authority to condemn private property for a public recreation
area. Minn. Stat. 465.01 (2004). Unlike in Ford Motor Co., then, the proposed use of
the property is within the citys condemnation authority.
Appellants reliance on a 49-year-old attorney general opinion is similarly
misplaced.3 The 1958 opinion at issue was prompted by the City of Thief River Falls
questioning whether it could condemn a tract of land for the purpose of conveying the
same to the State of Minnesota Department of Highways for the construction of [a]
roadside parking area and historic monument. Op. Atty Gen. 59a-14 (Dec. 30, 1958).
The attorney general answered in the negative, concluding that Minnesota law authorizes
municipalities to condemn land for municipal purposes only, and that the proposed
condemnation was not for municipal but for state purposes because the city was acting
as a mere conduit for the transfer of the property to the state. Id. (emphasis in original).
Although the attorney generals opinion may have been correct in 1958, the law of
eminent domain has changed to such a degree that the conclusion no longer appears
tenable. Under City of Duluth, Wurtele, Walser, and Kelo, municipalities currently have
the authority to acquire property and transfer it to a private entity for redevelopment.
3 Opinions of the Attorney General are not binding on the courts, Star Tribune Co. v.
Univ. of Minn. Bd. of Regents, 683 N.W.2d 274, 289 (Minn. 2004), although they are
entitled to careful consideration. Billigmeier v. County of Hennepin, 428 N.W.2d 79, 82
(Minn. 1988).
18
Thus, the district court did not err in concluding that the taking satisfies the constitutional
public-use requirement.
19
B. Necessity
Appellants argue that the proposed taking is speculative and is not necessary.
[I]n all eminent domain cases in this state, necessity, as well as public purpose, must be
shown. City of Duluth, 390 N.W.2d at 764. The condemning authority is not required
to show an absolute or indispensable necessity, but only that the proposed taking is
reasonably necessary or convenient for the furtherance of a proper purpose. City of
Pipestone v. Halbersma, 294 N.W.2d 271, 274 (Minn. 1980) (quotation omitted). To
overcome a condemning authoritys finding of necessity there must be overwhelming
evidence that the taking is not necessary. Lundell, 707 N.W.2d at 381.
The district court concluded that the taking was reasonably necessary and
convenient for the public purpose of developing a recreational trail. We agree.
Appellants rely heavily on Regents of the Univ. of Minn. v. Chicago & Nw. Transp. Co.,
552 N.W.2d 578 (Minn. App. 1996), review denied (Minn. Nov. 20, 1996). In Regents,
we stated that [s]peculative purposes will not support the assertion of necessity, and
held that the Universitys proposed condemnation was not necessary because it was for
speculative, stockpiling purposes. Regents, 552 N.W.2d at 580 (quotation omitted).
Our conclusion was based on the following facts:
First, . . . the University has not included this property
on its master plan for its anticipated development of the Twin
Cities campus. Second, although the University claims to
have at least three potential uses for the land, the uses are
mutually exclusive, and the Board of Regents has not yet
approved a single project for the property. Finally, because
of soil contamination problems, it is undisputed that the
University could not currently use the property for any of its
20
proposed uses. The parties have not yet agreed on a
remediation plan; decontamination of the property will
require from approximately two to seven years to complete.
At least one University official has described the time period
before the University would use the property as potentially
indefinite.
Id. We have subsequently clarified that necessity cannot be thwarted by alleging that
. . . the purpose for condemning the property is too speculative if in fact the project is
officially supported by the governmental entity and ordinary agreements are in place to
realize the project. In re Condemnation by Minneapolis Cmty. Dev. Agency (MCDA),
582 N.W.2d 596, 597 (Minn. App. 1998) (syllabus by the court), review denied (Minn.
Oct. 29, 1998). Moreover, we have stated that [t]he rule established in Regents . . . is
limited by the extreme facts present in that controversy. Itasca County v. Carpenter,
602 N.W.2d 887, 890 (Minn. App. 1999).
We do not find similarly extreme facts in this case. Here, the city is acting
pursuant to two engineering studies. These studies concluded that the land was
appropriate for a trail, and that the plan was feasible. The DNR has indicated that the
proposed trail is within the corridor identified in its draft plan. The city has secured
funding to compensate appellants for their damages. And perhaps most importantly,
during the 2007 session, the legislature passed an amendment to Minn. Stat. 85.015,
subd. 22 (2006), directing that a trail segment shall be established connecting the cities
of Granite Falls and Montevideo. 2007 Minn. Laws ch. 131, art. 1, 16, at 1066. The
trail already exists from Montevideo to Wegdahlthe segment at issue here would
connect to the existing trail at Wegdahl and complete the segment from Granite Falls to
21
Montevideo, as directed by the amendment. Given these facts, we cannot say that there is
overwhelming evidence showing that the citys decision to condemn the subject property
is not necessary or convenient to further a public purpose. Thus, we affirm the district
courts conclusion that the taking is necessary.
D E C I S I O N
Because the citys failure to strictly comply with the requirements of Minn. Stat.
117.036 (2004) did not deprive the district court of subject-matter jurisdiction over this
case, and because there is evidence in the record to support the district courts conclusion
that the taking is necessary to further a public purpose, the district court did not err in
denying appellants motions for summary judgment and granting the citys petition.
Affirmed.
 

 
 
 

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Slip and Fall
Other:


  How have your injuries affected

  your life?

 


  What kinds of medical care
  professionals have you seen?

 


  What has your treatment cost?

 

  Is Insurance Involved?
My insurance may cover
        this.

Someone else's insurance
        may cover this.

I already filed a claim.
I rejected a settlement
        offer.

I accepted a settlement
        offer.

  Were there any witnesses?
Bystanders Witnessed This.
Police Responded and Filed
        a Police Report

Police Responded but Did
        Not File a Police Report


 

 

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Copyright © Michael E. Douglas, Attorney at Law, Saint Paul MN. All Rights Reserved.
Minnesota Law Firm representing Personal Injury, Car / Auto Accident, Workers Compensation, Medical Malpractice, Social Security Disability claims.
Dedicated to Injured Workers, Victims of Negligence, Car Accidents, Victims of Fraud, and those in need of legal assistance.