This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).








Mark Paper, et al.,





In Re the Application of:

Ronald and Alice Trotter for a Conditional Use Permit

to Expand their Existing Resort,



Aitkin County Planning Commission,




Filed April 10, 2001


Schumacher, Judge


Aitkin County Planning Commission

File No. 26537C



Raymond A. Charpentier, Troy M. Schrempp, Charpentier & Lange, 718 Front Street, Post Office Box 341, Brainerd, MN 56401 (for relators)


Jeffrey J. Haberkorn, Haberkorn Law Office, 122 Second Street Northwest, Aitkin, MN 56431 (for respondent Trotter)


Thomas P. Carlson, Carlson & Soldo, P.L.L.P., 420 Summit Avenue, Suite 300, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondent Aitkin County Planning Commission)



            Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Stoneburner, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Relators Mark Paper and other property owners of Round Lake (the property owners) challenge the grant of a conditional use permit by respondent Aitkin County Planning Commission (the planning commission) for the expansion of Ronald and Alice Trotter's existing resort.  We affirm.


For some 37 years, the Trotters have owned and operated a resort on Round Lake in Aitkin County.  The resort includes five cabins, an office, eight mobile home sites, and three seasonal recreational vehicle sites.  On April 11, 2000, the Trotters submitted a zoning permit application to add 5 more mobile home sites and 20 more seasonal recreational vehicle sites.  The property owners organized a petition requesting an environmental assessment worksheet, alleging the resort expansion would adversely affect the quality of the lake.  At a May 15, 2000 meeting, the planning commission tabled the conditional use permit application pending the county board's determination whether an environmental assessment worksheet would be prepared.  On June 6, 2000, the county issued a decision concluding that an environmental assessment worksheet was not required, a decision not challenged in this proceeding. 

            The planning commission considered the conditional use permit application at its June 19, 2000 meeting.  The property owners testified and submitted documentation in opposition to the project.  The planning commission tabled the issue again, requesting supplemental information from the Trotters.  The Trotters subsequently submitted an addendum to the conditional use permit application that included additional information about parking, docking, and open space.  The Trotters also submitted a more detailed site plan.

            On July 11, 2000, the planning commission again considered the conditional use permit application.  At the conclusion of the meeting, the planning commission voted to grant the conditional use permit subject to 16 conditions:

(1)       All solid waste must be removed and properly disposed of within 30 days.


(2)       All burning barrels must be removed.  No burning other than that as allowed by State and County Rules and Regulations.  Burning Permits must be obtained from the Minnesota DNR.


(3)       Existing failing septic system must be brought into compliance within 10 months as per Aitkin County Individual Sewage Treatment System Ordinance No. 1 and Minnesota Rules Chapter 7080.


(4)       Wetland fill violation must be corrected as per restoration order which is to be drafted and issued by the Soil and Water Conservation District and the DNR.


(5)       No additional units will be allowed in the first tier due to lack of setback distance to the lake with existing cabins and screening from the lake.


(6)       16 permanent mooring sites are allowed, this is based on the allowable density in the first tier.


(7)       Maintain existing screening between the proposed expansion and the existing operation.


(8)       Trotters Resort must submit a soil and erosion control plan and a landscape plan, for the proposed expansion, to Steve Hughes of the Soil and Water Conservation District * * * for review and approval.


(9)       If over 5 acres of land are disturbed, a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit may be required.  Contact Ken LaVore at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for further details * * *.


(10)     Must comply with the Environmental Services Department for licensing of the facility and any requirements placed on the license including construction of a storm shelter.


(11)     Must comply with all Local, State and Federal Regulations that pertain to this facility.  Failure to comply with Local and State requirements, especially with the septic systems, solid waste and food beverage and lodging, may result in revocation of the Facilities License.


(12)     No vegetation removal will be allowed within 50 feet of the lake.


(13)     Must comply with the Aitkin County Mining Ordinance.


(14)     Must obtain all electrical permits and comply with the Minnesota Electrical Code.


(15)     No mobile homes allowed that are older than 1986 models.


(16)     All boats must be launched at the public water access.


Each commissioner’s vote as to nine findings was recorded on a form used when considering conditional uses.

            Aitkin County, Minn., Shoreland Ordinance § 3.45 (1992) states: 

Any person or department, board or commission of the County or of the State of Minnesota may appeal any decision of the Planning Commission relative to a conditional use permit by writ of certiorari to the Minnesota Court of Appeals within thirty (30) days of the Planning Commission’s final decision. 


In August 2000, the property owners filed a petition for writ of certiorari with this court.


"We review a municipal body's land use decision to determine whether it was unreasonable, arbitrary, or capricious."  Trisko v. City of Waite Park, 566 N.W.2d 349, 352 (Minn. App. 1997) (citation omitted), review denied (Minn. Sept. 25, 1997).  Land use decisions are entitled to great deference and will not be disturbed on appeal unless the decision has no rational basis.  SuperAmerica Group, Inc. v. City of Little Canada, 539 N.W.2d 264, 266 (Minn. App. 1995), review denied (Minn. Jan. 5, 1996).

A decision to grant or deny a conditional use permit is a quasi-judicial decision because it requires the county to determine facts about the nature of the proposed use and then exercise its discretion in determining whether to allow the use.  Neitzel v. County of Redwood, 521 N.W.2d 73, 75 (Minn. App. 1994), review denied (Minn. Oct. 27, 1994).  Quasi-judicial decisions are reviewable by certiorari.  Handicraft Block Ltd. P'ship v. City of Minneapolis, 611 N.W.2d 16, 20 (Minn. 2000).

[C]ase law distinguishes between zoning matters which are legislative in nature (rezoning) and those which are quasi-judicial (variances and special use permits).  Even so, the standard of review is the same for all zoning matters, namely, whether the zoning authority's action was reasonable.  Our cases express this standard in various ways: Is there a "reasonable basis" for the decision? or is the decision "unreasonable, arbitrary or capricious"?  or is the decision "reasonably debatable"?


Nevertheless, while the reasonableness standard is the same for all zoning matters, the nature of the matter under review has a bearing on what is reasonable.  In enacting a zoning ordinance or in amending an ordinance to rezone, the approach is legislative; what is involved is a kind of municipal planning in which a wide range of value judgments is considered.  On the other hand, in granting or denying a special use permit, the inquiry is more judicial in character since the zoning authority is applying specific use standards set by the zoning ordinance to a particular individual use. 


Honn v. City of Coon Rapids, 313 N.W.2d 409, 416-17 (Minn. 1981) (citation omitted).

            The property owners argue that the conditional use permit application did not satisfy provisions of the county shoreland ordinance, and that the planning commission did not address mandatory issues.  The shoreland ordinance contains density restrictions that limit the size and number of structures in certain tiers of shoreland property.  Here, county staff along with the Department of Natural Resources performed density calculations based on the maps submitted and determined that the expansion project was in compliance with the ordinance’s density restrictions. 

Aitkin County, Minn., Shoreland Ordinance § 3.4 (1992) governing conditional use permits provides that a permit shall be granted only if the planning commission makes a number of specified findings.  Id. § 3.43 (1)-(8).  At the July 11 planning commission meeting, the commissioners specifically voted on each one of these required findings, recording their votes on a form used when considering conditional use permit requests.  The form mirrors the ordinance criteria.  The planning commission made the findings required to approve a conditional use permit request under the shoreland ordinance.

Contrary to the property owners’ suggestion, the record reveals that the planning commission specifically addressed shoreland concerns.  Conditional use permit conditions 5, 6, 8, 12 and 16 all related to shoreland issues.  Any alleged deficiencies in the conditional use permit application and site plan were adequately addressed by the conditions attached to the conditional use permit approval.  In a recent conditional use permit case, this court noted:

The township board did not disregard appellants' concerns about storm runoff and groundwater effects: it imposed thirteen conditions on the CUP requiring monitoring, testing, and reporting.  Benton Township v. Carver County Bd. of Comm'rs, 302 Minn. 493, 498-99, 225 N.W.2d 815, 818-19 (upholding municipality's decision absent evidence that proposed use would be injurious to public health, safety, or welfare and when conditions attached to permit adequately addressed issues raised in opposition). 


R.L. Hexum & Assocs., Inc. v. Rochester Township, Bd. of Supervisors, 609 N.W.2d 271, 277 (Minn. App. 2000).  Similarly, in this case, the planning commission did not disregard the property owners' concerns. 

            The property owners argue that the planning commission did not adequately reduce the reasons for its decision to writing.

[A] municipal body need not necessarily prepare formal findings of fact, but it must, at a minimum, have the reasons for its decision recorded or reduced to writing and in more than just a conclusory fashion.  By failing to do so, it runs the risk of not having its decision sustained.


Honn, 313 N.W.2d AT 416 (emphasis added).  Honn makes clear that the reasons of the local land use authority need not be reduced to writing so long as they are adequately recorded.  Here, the vote as to each of the section 3.43 requirements was recorded on the conditional use permit approval form.  Further, the planning commission meetings were recorded.  At the July 11 meeting, commissioners voted yes on the findings of fact, explaining on the record the reasons for their votes as to the section 3.43 findings.  The record adequately preserves the reasons for the planning commission’s decision.

            Finally, the property owners argue the planning commission acted arbitrarily and without evidence to support its decision.  The record suggests, however, that the planning commission proceeded in a deliberate and considered fashion.  They allowed the property owners to make their opinions known in the record, twice tabling the decision to allow further participation and review.  Participants in the quasi-judicial process of considering a conditional use permit application are entitled to reasonable notice of hearing and a reasonable opportunity to be heard.  See Gun Lake Ass'n v. County of Aitkin, 612 N.W.2d 177, 178 (Minn. App. 2000), review denied (Minn. Sept. 13, 2000).  But "[c]ommunity opposition to a landowner's desire to use his property for a particular purpose is not a legally sufficient reason for denying a conditional use permit."  Scott County Lumber Co. v. City of Shakopee, 417 N.W.2d 721, 728 (Minn. App. 1988), review denied (Minn. Mar. 23, 1988).