This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
The City of Prior Lake,
Filed May 23, 2000
George C. Hoff, Scott B. Landsman, Hoff, Barry & Kuderer, P.A., 7901 Flying Cloud Drive, Suite 260, Eden Prairie, MN 55344-7914 (for respondent)
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant Prior Lake Sportsmen’s Club challenges the district court’s summary judgment in favor of respondent City of Prior Lake. We conclude the club lacks standing to bring this action. We affirm.
The city is the trustee of a 33-foot-wide parcel known as Beach Lane, which provides access to Prior Lake through a residential neighborhood. The club is a non-profit corporation whose members use Beach Lane as a public access for ice fishing on Prior Lake. Over time, health and safety problems involving noise, litter, traffic, and parking on Beach Lane increased. The city narrowed Beach Lane to approximately ten feet wide and installed a gate that limited the hours that Beach Lane was open. But the health and safety problems persisted.
The city council adopted additional regulations that control access by closing a manual gate between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. from December 16 through February 28 and by requiring users to pay a permit fee. The club challenged the fee charged for the permit, but the city has since repealed the resolution authorizing the permit requirement, and the club agreed during oral argument that this issue is moot. The club sued the city, alleging breach of contract, trespass, ultra vires regulation, impairment of public dedication, and nuisance. The club challenges adverse summary judgment on the last three claims. The city challenges the club’s standing.
As a threshold issue, the city argues that the club lacks standing to bring this action. Where, as here, the facts are undisputed, standing is a legal question that is reviewed de novo on appeal. Joel v. Wellman, 551 N.W.2d 729, 730 (Minn. App. 1996), review denied (Minn. Oct. 29, 1996). A challenge to standing may be made at any time. Lucio v. School Bd. of Indep. Sch. Dist. No. 625, 574 N.W.2d 737, 739 n. 2 (Minn. App. 1998), review denied (Minn. Apr. 30, 1998).
A party may acquire standing either by showing injury in fact distinct from the public’s injury or from an express statutory authority. State ex rel. Humphrey v. Philip Morris, 551 N.W.2d 490, 493 (Minn. 1996). The club does not assert an express statutory basis for standing. The requirement that a party have an injury in fact distinct from the public’s injury precludes citizens from bringing lawsuits against governmental agencies based only on the citizens’ disagreement with policy or the exercise of discretion by those responsible for executing the law. McKee v. Likins, 261 N.W.2d 566, 571 (Minn. 1977); see also Channel 10, Inc. v. Independent Sch. Dist. No. 709, 298 Minn. 306, 312, 215 N.W.2d 814, 820 (1974) (generally “[r]ights of a public nature are to be enforced by public authority rather than individual citizens so as to avoid multiplicity of suits”).
An exception to this rule is an action brought by a taxpayer to challenge an illegal expenditure. McKee, 261 N.W.2d at 571. The club alleges that “the city has unlawfully spent public funds * * * in the creation and implementation of a permit fee and access program.” But this issue is moot. Moreover, the club fails to provide any factual basis for this allegation. See Byrd v. Independent Sch. Dist. No. 194, 495 N.W.2d 226, 231 (Minn. App. 1993) (standing requires more than mere speculation), review denied (Minn. Apr. 20, 1993).
The club asserts that it has standing because its members fall into at least one of five categories: (1) residents of the City of Prior Lake, (2) residents of other communities who will have to pay a higher non-resident fee, (3) recreational users of Beach Lane, (4) fee-paying applicants, and (5) taxpayers. The club’s alleged “injuries in fact” are that the city installed posts and cables that narrow Beach Lane, that the city breached the public trust, and that the city limited the use of a public resource. But none of these alleged injuries is distinct from the public’s injury.
The club also argues that its
members have been endangered both as to their personal safety and their property. The Sportsmen’s Club members have fish houses. They need to get them to the Lake. The City by creating a narrow corridor less than a third the width of the Access has rendered the Access difficult and dangerous for passage. Members of the general public who pursue other recreation elsewhere would not encounter the inconvenience or hazards that the City has imposed on the Sportsmen’s Club members.
But the club’s mere allegations of endangerment to personal safety and property, inconvenience, and hazards are not injuries distinct from the public’s injury. See North Star Legal Foundation v. Honeywell Project, 355 N.W.2d 186, 189 (Minn. App. 1984) (appellant must show proof of effect and consequences of injury), review denied (Minn. Jan. 2, 1985). We conclude that the club lacked standing to bring this action; therefore, we need not address the club’s challenge to adverse summary judgment.