STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Filed July 24, 2007
Ramsey County District Court
File No. C5-06-1917
Timothy A. Sime, Rinke-Noonan,
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Kenneth E. Raschke, Jr., Assistant Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Towers, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings)
Christopher M. Hood, Brandon M. Fitzsimmons, Flaherty &
George C. Hoff, Daphne A. Lundstrom, Hoff, Barry & Kozar, P.A., 160 Flagship Corporate Center, 775 Prairie Center Drive, Eden Prairie, MN 55344 (for respondent City of Stacy)
Considered and decided by Dietzen, Presiding Judge; Toussaint, Chief Judge; and Halbrooks, Judge.
S Y L L A B U S
Under Minn. Stat. ch. 414, the director of the Office of Strategic and Long-Range Planning has the discretion to determine which of two competing petitions for annexation, namely, a joint petition under Minn. Stat. § 414.0325 (2006) and a petition for annexation under Minn. Stat. § 414.031 (2006), should proceed first.
O P I N I O N
Appellants City of Wyoming and Wyoming Township challenge the district court’s order denying their petition for a writ of mandamus compelling respondent Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) to order annexation of Wyoming Township into the City of Wyoming, arguing that the OAH is required by Minn. Stat. § 414.0325 (2006) to grant their petition. Because the district court properly applied the law and did not abuse its discretion, we affirm.
December 6, 2005, the Wyoming City Council and the Wyoming Town Board each
approved a joint resolution and orderly annexation agreement (
January 4, 2006, the City of Chisago City filed a resolution with the OAH,
petitioning to annex 3,300 acres of the Township. The next day, the City of
OAH did not act on appellant’s joint resolution to annex the Township into the
Appellants then petitioned the Ramsey County District Court for a writ of mandamus compelling the OAH to order the annexation of the Township into the City of Wyoming, claiming that the OAH was required to do so by Minn. Stat. § 414.0325. Following a hearing on stipulated facts, the district court denied the petition for a writ of mandamus. This appeal follows.
the district court err by refusing to issue a writ of mandamus compelling the
OAH to order the annexation of
Appellants argue that the district court erred by denying their petition for a writ of mandamus compelling the OAH to grant their petition for annexation under Minn. Stat. § 414.0325 (2006). Initially, the OAH argues that a writ of mandamus is not the proper procedural mechanism for judicial review of its actions under chapter 414. We turn to that issue first.
A. Availability of Mandamus Relief Under Chapter 414
Minn. Stat. § 414.07, subd. 2 (2006), provides that:
(a) Any person aggrieved by any order issued under this chapter may appeal to the district court upon the following grounds:
(1) that the order was issued without jurisdiction to act;
(2) that the order exceeded the orderer’s jurisdiction;
(3) that the order is arbitrary, fraudulent, capricious or oppressive or in unreasonable disregard of the best interests of the territory affected; or
(4) that the order is based upon an erroneous theory of law.
The OAH argues that Minn. Stat. § 414.07 is the exclusive mechanism of judicial review for any party aggrieved by an order of the OAH. Appellants argue that a writ of mandamus is not governed by Minn. Stat. § 414.07, but rather is a separate proceeding governed by Minn. Stat. §§ 586.01-.12 (2006).
We review questions
of statutory interpretation de novo. Hyatt v.
§ 586.01 provides that: “[t]he writ of mandamus may be issued to any
inferior tribunal, corporation, board, or person to compel the performance of
an act which the law specially enjoins as a duty resulting from an office,
trust, or station.” The purpose of the
writ is to compel a government official to perform a duty that the law enjoins
him to do. State v. Youngquist ex rel. Schmidt, 178
For two reasons, we
conclude that Minn. Stat. § 414.07 does not preclude a separate mandamus
The OAH suggests
that our decision in Rockford Twp. v.
City of Rockford, 608 N.W.2d 903 (Minn. App. 2000), supports its argument. We disagree.
In Rockford Twp., we stated that
Minn. Stat. § 414.07 was the “exclusive” mechanism for obtaining judicial
review of boundary adjustment “orders.”
B. Writ of Mandamus
We turn then to
whether the district court erred by denying appellants’ petition for a writ of
mandamus. When a decision on a writ of mandamus is based solely
on a legal determination, we review that decision de novo. Breza
v. City of
Appellants argue that Minn. Stat. § 414.0325, subd. 1, provides that upon receipt of a joint resolution designating an area as in need of orderly annexation, the director may “review and comment,” but the annexation is mandated and must be ordered within 30 days. Thus, appellants argue that the OAH failed to exercise a duty imposed by law.
Stat. § 414.0325 sets forth the procedure that governs appellants’ joint
resolution to designate the unincorporated area of Wyoming Township as in need
of orderly annexation. It provides that
annexation of any part of the designated area may be initiated by the director
or by submitting to the director a joint resolution.
(f) If a joint resolution designates an area as in need of orderly annexation and states that no alteration of its stated boundaries is appropriate, the director may review and comment, but may not alter the boundaries.
(g) If a joint resolution designates an area as in need of orderly annexation, provides for the conditions of its annexation, and states that no consideration by the director is necessary, the director may review and comment, but shall, within 30 days, order the annexation in accordance with the terms of the resolution.
argue that subparts (f) and (g) must be read in the context of the entire
statute. Specifically, respondents argue
that subparts (f) and (g) apply to a proceeding in which the only parties are
the signatories to the joint resolution and do not apply when there is a
competing petition for annexation. Respondents
point to subdivision 6, which provides: “An orderly annexation agreement is a
binding contract upon all parties to the agreement and is enforceable in the
district court in the county in which the unincorporated property in question
next argue that the filing of petitions for annexation by Stacy and Chisago
City of portions of the area sought to be annexed by the City of Wyoming created
a “statutory conflict” between Minn. Stat. § 414.0325, subd. 1(f), (g), and
[T]o order the
The district court denied appellants’ petition for a writ of mandamus, reasoning that:
[P]ublic policy and the law supports the proposition that the OAH has the authority, under Minn. Stat. § 414 to act upon conflicting annexation petitions by conducting public hearings on the various petitions. The orderly process will assure that the complex issues involved in annexation, which have regional effect, will be openly discussed and resolved.
agree that the competing proposals for annexation create a statutory conflict
between Minn. Stat. § 414.0325, subd. 1, and
Thus, we read
Minn. Stat. § 414.0325 to authorize the director to proceed either on the joint
resolution, or on a proceeding initiated by the director. We conclude that the director had no legal
duty to order the annexation of
Existing case law
supports our conclusion. In Vill. of
[Chapter] 414 authorizes the chairman of the commission to consolidate “separate hearings in the interest of economy and expedience” and vests in the commission broad powers to increase or decrease the area proposed for annexation. These provisions contemplate that the commission will be confronted with conflicting petitions. It is clear therefore that the legislature necessarily intended to authorize simultaneous consideration of such petitions. Such authority not only is consistent with the legislative purpose and design of c. 414 when considered as a whole, but also appears necessary if the commission is to fulfill its intended role and function of aiding, advancing, and authoritatively controlling the orderly expansion of existing municipalities and the incorporation of new municipalities.
Our conclusion is
also supported by the reasoning of Ashbacker
Radio Corp. v. FCC, 326
also argue that statutory rules of construction provide that when two laws
passed in different sessions of the legislature are irreconcilable, the law
later in date of final enactment shall prevail.
See Minn. Stat. § 645.26,
subd. 4 (2006). Specifically, appellants
point out that Minn. Stat. § 414.031, requiring the OAH to set a hearing once
it receives a resolution from an annexing municipality, was adopted in 1969,
and the applicable provisions of Minn. Stat. § 414.0325 were adopted by
the legislature in 1983 and amended in 2002.
But Minn. Stat. § 645.26 does not apply unless the provisions of two or more laws “are irreconcilable.” Here, the director has the authority to initiate the annexation of any portion of the area designated for orderly annexation by appellants, and has the authority to consolidate proceedings in order to adjudicate disputes and oversee the orderly adjustment of municipal boundaries. Minn. Stat. §§ 414.0325; 414.01, subds. 1, 5; and 414.09, subd. 1. Thus, we conclude that the provisions of Minn. Stat. § 414.0325 and Minn. Stat. § 414.031, applied to the competing petitions at issue, are not irreconcilable.
argue that the OAH’s interpretation of the statutes frustrates one of the
purposes of chapter of 414, which is to encourage long-range planning powers or
other cooperative efforts among governmental bodies. See
LaCrescent Twp. v. City of LaCrescent,
515 N.W.2d 608, 610 (
Respondents make further arguments on statutory construction that are not necessary for us to reach, and, therefore, we decline to do so.
D E C I S I O N
Minn. Stat. ch. 414, the director of the Office of Strategic and Long-Range
Planning has the discretion to determine which of two competing petitions for
annexation, namely, a joint petition under Minn. Stat. § 414.0325 and a
petition under Minn. Stat. § 414.031, should proceed first. Because the OAH had no legal duty to order
the annexation of
 Appellants have separately appealed the orders of the OAH, the appeal of which is currently pending in Chisago County District Court.