This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
City of Eagan,
Filed May 1, 2001
Dakota County District Court
File No. C09810197
John Thomas Brandt, P.O. Box 458, 259th Avenue North, Hopkins, MN 55343-0458 (for appellant)
John W. Clinton, 7616 Currell Boulevard, Suite 200, Woodbury, MN 55125 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Amundson, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Willis, Judge.
Appellant Beatta Blomquist challenges the trial court’s determination that respondent City of Eagan (the city) properly assessed her residential property in the amount of $1,906.80 for a bituminous street reconstruction improvement. Because there is evidence to support the trial court’s findings and conclusions, we affirm.
Under Minn. Stat. § 429.051 (2000), a city may assess the cost of an improvement on property benefited by the improvement based on the benefits received. See Carlson-Lang Realty Co. v. City of Windom, 307 Minn. 368, 369, 240 N.W.2d 517, 519 (1976) (“[t]he land must receive a special benefit from the improvement being constructed”). “To determine the value of a special benefit, the taxing authority must consider what increase, if any, there has been in the fair market value of the benefited land.” Schumacher v. City of Excelsior, 427 N.W.2d 235, 236-37 (Minn. 1988) (citation omitted). Any increase in market value is measured by the difference between the price a buyer would pay for the property before and after the improvement “under ordinary circumstances.” Id.
Special assessments are presumed valid. Bisbee v. City of Fairmont, 593 N.W.2d 714, 718 (Minn. App. 1999). In reviewing a trial court determination regarding the validity of a special assessment, an appellate court conducts
a careful examination of the record to ascertain whether the evidence as a whole fairly supports the findings of the district court and whether these in turn support its conclusions of law and judgment.
Carlson-Lange, 307 Minn. at 373, 240 N.W.2d at 521 (citation omitted); see Dosedel v. City of Ham Lake, 414 N.W.2d 751, 756 (Minn. App. 1987) (“evidence must be against the findings to justify a reversal”).
Blomquist claims that the evidence presented to the trial court here does not support the court’s finding that her property benefited in the amount of $3,300 from the street improvement. She insists that the only evidence received on the value of that improvement included the benefit for the whole project, which also included storm sewer improvements.
The report and testimony of one of the city’s experts, Laurence Danich, confirms that his special benefit analysis and conclusions were based on the project as a whole. However, another city expert, Gerald McKinzie, submitted a benefit analysis that was not based on the value of the whole project. McKinzie testified that he measured the benefit from the point of view of buyers and sellers, who would only consider a property’s value from “visual points,” or what could be “see[n] and observe[d].” He further explained that property buyers would not pay for an improved storm sewer because they would not notice any difference in the property because of this type of improvement; thus, an improved storm sewer would have no effect on the value of the property. McKinzie also stated that to show a change in value, a property’s "visual points" had to show improvement. The data McKinzie relied on to determine the benefit to Bomquist’s property was "the actual street construction." He concluded that Blomquist’s property benefited at least $3,300 from the improvement. This evidence supports the trial court’s determination on the value of the benefit to Blomquist’s property from the street construction project.
Blomquist also claims that the bituminous street reconstruction provided no special benefit to her property because “it served the same purpose before and after the improvement.” She argues that both before and after the improvement the sole purpose of the street was for access. The evidence presented to the trial court, however, established that, pre-improvement, the street was in poor condition, and that Blomquist and several other neighbors had complained about its condition. The city’s two experts also provided evidence that the street was in poor condition before the improvement, and McKenzie gave the opinion that the street needed to be replaced.
“Special benefit is measured by the increase in market value of the land owing to the improvement.” Carlson-Lang, 307 Minn. at 369, 240 N.W.2d at 519 (citations omitted); see EHW Properties v. City of Eagan, 503 N.W.2d 135, 139 (Minn. App. 1993). Special benefit analysis may also include consideration of the adequacy of the condition before the improvement. See Southview Country Club v. City of Inver Grove Heights, 263 N.W.2d 385, 388 (Minn. 1978). Because the evidence supports the conclusion that the market value of Blomquist’s property increased due to the improvement, and that the street was inadequate before the improvement, the trial court properly affirmed the city’s assessment.