Court of Appeals 04.21.09

The Court issued a published decision in Friends of Twin Lakes v. Roseville, affirming Roseville’s negative determination on an EAW for an expansion at Northwestern College.  The analysis meriting attention and publication is the Court’s approval of EAW review which considers pre-existing regulatory oversight as a legitimate means of preventing significant environmental effects.  Listing out and recognizing the existing regulation applicable to a project alongside the other mitigation measures planned or required will support a valid EAW decision.  As always. the key to any municipal decision is quality consideration and fact-finding.

The Court also released an unpublished decision in Ellis v. Minneapolis, reversing a special assessment for building demolition following a fire.  The legal takeaway is simple: if the city is levying an assessment through ordinance power, it has to do exactly what the ordinance says.  Here, the City of Minneapolis has an ordinance that allows the fire chief to hire a crew to tear down “walls or other parts of the building or to put them in a safe condition.”  Ellis argued that the building could be restored to safe condition without a tear-down, and got about six months to try before the City tore the building down.  What the Court appears to have locked onto, though, was the City’s assessment bill, which purported to assess the cost of the demolition crew being standby on-site on the first day after the fire.  No action to “tear down walls … or put them in a safe condition” equals no assessment.

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