may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Filed November 20, 2001
Chisago County District Court
File No. CX99590
Alfred S. Alliegro, Chisago County Attorney, Room 373, 313 North Main Street, Center City, MN 55012 (for respondent)
Barry L. Blomquist, 6356 Elm Street, P.O. Box 578, North Branch, MN 55056 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Shumaker, Presiding Judge, Halbrooks, Judge, and Mulally, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
In this joint civil and criminal appeal, appellant Cass Vil Blakey contends that the evidence as to the validity of the ordinances was insufficient to permit the court to find that he violated them. Blakey also argues that the district court erred (1) by taking judicial notice of the zoning ordinances and (2) by concluding that Blakey violated the zoning ordinances. We affirm.
Blakey owns property in a rural residential district in Chisago County. Chisago County filed a civil lawsuit against Blakey for the illegal operation of an automobile reduction/salvage yard and the illegal operation of a solid waste facility. Chisago County, Minn., Zoning Ordinances §§ 7.25, 7.26 (1997). The county alleged that Blakey continuously maintained numerous wrecked or junked vehicles as well as numerous items of solid waste, including scrap metal and old tires, on his property. The county sought to permanently enjoin Blakey from violating county zoning ordinances and from maintaining a public nuisance. Blakey was also charged with a misdemeanor criminal violation for erecting an accessory structure without first obtaining a building permit. By stipulation, Blakey’s civil and criminal cases were tried jointly to the court.
In the civil case, the district court concluded that Blakey had violated county ordinances and determined that the use of his property constituted a nuisance in fact. The court ordered Blakey to bring his property in compliance with applicable zoning ordinances. In the criminal case, the district court concluded that Blakey had violated county ordinances by failing to obtain a building permit and for having a non-permitted accessory structure. He was fined and sentenced to 90 days in jail. The court agreed to suspend the jail sentence if Blakey complied with the order in the civil case. Blakey appeals the district court’s decision in both matters.
D E C I S I O N
I. Evidence as to the validity of the ordinances
A district court’s evidentiary decisions are reviewed under an abuse of discretion standard. State v. Kennedy, 585 N.W.2d 385, 389 (Minn. 1998). Blakey claims that the evidence presented to the district court as to the validity of the ordinances was not sufficient to permit the court to rule on whether he violated any of the ordinance’s provisions.
The district court concluded that copies of the zoning ordinances constituted prima facie evidence of their validity and found that the 1997 ordinance was conclusively valid three years after the date of its publication. Minn. Stat. § 599.13 (2000). The statute, which the district court relied on, provides that
Copies of the ordinances, bylaws, resolutions, and regulations of any city, town, or county * * * and copies of the same printed in any newspaper, book, pamphlet, or other form, and which purport to be published by authority of the council of such city or county board, shall be prima facie evidence thereof and, after three years from the compilation and publication of any such book or pamphlet, shall be conclusive proof of the regularity of their adoption and publication.
Compliance with Minn. Stat. § 599.13 may even save an ordinance that is otherwise invalid. In City of Bemidji v. Beighley, the court relied on Minn. Stat. § 599.13 to validate a city ordinance even though the ordinance failed to satisfy the requirements of another statute. 410 N.W.2d 338, 342-43 (Minn. App. 1987). The appellant argued that the city ordinance at issue was invalid because it was passed without notice and a public hearing, both of which were required by Minn. Stat. § 462.357 (1982). Id. at 339, 341. Relying on Minn. Stat. § 599.13, the court upheld the trial court’s finding that the challenged ordinance became prima facie valid on the day it was codified. Id. at 342. The court held that the ordinance became conclusively valid when the notice, which advertised the public availability of the city code, was published in the local newspaper. Id. at 343.
Based on the clear language of Minn. Stat. § 599.13, the district court did not err in concluding that the copies of the Chisago County zoning ordinances constituted prima facie evidence of their validity and that the 1997 zoning ordinance became conclusively valid three years after the date of its publication.
Blakey argues that the evidence submitted by the county to support the validity of the zoning ordinances was insufficient, in part, because the ordinance did not contain zoning maps. To support this argument, Blakey relies on Minn. Stat. § 394.35. This statute, however, does not require counties to include maps in all zoning ordinances; it simply requires the county auditor to file a copy of a map with the county recorder if a map is a supplement to or a part of the actual ordinance. Minn. Stat. § 394.35 (2000). Because Chisago County was not required to provide a map with its zoning ordinances, Blakey’s argument has no merit.
II. Judicial Notice
Blakey also contends that the district court erred by taking judicial notice of the county’s zoning ordinances. He argues that courts are not permitted to take judicial notice of county ordinances. Courts, however, typically take judicial notice of municipal ordinances. See State v. Chichester, No. C4-00-2130, 2001 WL 506961, at *2 n.1 (Minn. App. May 15, 2001) (noting that “both trial and appellate courts have traditionally taken judicial notice of city ordinances”). The ordinances at issue in this case were also admitted into evidence at the hearing. Therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion by taking judicial notice of the ordinances.
III. Civil Violations of Zoning Ordinances
When reviewing mixed questions of law and fact, “we will correct erroneous applications of law, but accord the trial court discretion in its ultimate conclusions and review such conclusions under an abuse of discretion standard.” Rehn v. Fischley, 557 N.W.2d 328, 333 (Minn. 1997).
The county brought suit against Blakey for operating an automobile reduction/salvage yard in violation of Chisago County, Minn., Zoning Ordinance § 7.25 (1997). At the time the zoning ordinance was in effect, and at the time of trial, Blakey’s property was located in a zoning district designated as “rural residential one.” Chisago County’s Director of Environmental Services testified that an auto salvage yard was not a permitted use of land designated as rural residential one. Blakey does not deny that he was operating an automobile salvage yard. Blakey admitted that he began a “salvaging operation” in the 1980s. Therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion when it found Blakey in violation of § 7.25.
In its complaint, the county also alleged that Blakey was operating a solid waste facility without a permit in violation of Chisago County, Minn., Zoning Ordinance § 7.26. When testifying about the proper method for disposal of solid waste, Steven Putman, a code enforcement officer for Chisago County, noted that solid waste includes materials such as metal, refrigerators, and tires. During a site visit in November 2000, Putman found cars, piles of scrap metal, and piles of tires on Blakey’s land. On a different visit during the fall of 2000, Chisago County’s Director of Environmental Services testified that he also found cars and refrigerators on Blakey’s land. As a result, we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion by finding that Blakey violated § 7.26.
IV. Criminal Violations of the Zoning Ordinances
In reviewing a claim of insufficient evidence, this court is limited to determining whether the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the conviction, is sufficient to allow the factfinder to reach the verdict it did. See State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989).
The district court found Blakey guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of violating Minnesota State Building Code § 106.1 and Chisago County, Minn., Zoning Ordinance § 4.01 (1997). Section 106.1 of the Building Code requires a property owner to obtain a permit before erecting or altering structures on the land. Section 4.01(E) of the county zoning ordinance states that no building permit will be granted for a building or structure that fails to comply with the requirements of the zoning ordinance or the Minnesota State Building Code, which has been adopted by reference by Chisago County.
Louis Melchow, a code-enforcement official for Chisago County, testified that he visited Blakey’s property on July 13, 1999, and discovered a new building located on the property. Blakey had attempted to obtain a building permit, but the county refused to issue a permit because construction of the new building would have violated county zoning ordinances. The new structure would have (1) exceeded the 2,000 square feet capacity for an accessory structure in a rural residential district and (2) exceeded the limit on the number of accessory structures permitted on the property. Chisago County, Minn., Zoning Ordinance § 4.08.
Blakey contends that the district court erred in finding him guilty of violating § 106.1 because no such provision can be found in the county’s zoning ordinances. An appellate court can engage in a de novo review of the district court’s interpretation of a statute, which is a question of law. Brookfield Trade Ctr., Inc. v. County of Ramsey, 609 N.W.2d 868, 874 (Minn. 2000). The rules governing the construction of statutes also apply to the construction of ordinances. State v. Simonsen, 252 Minn. 315, 328, 89 N.W.2d 910, 918 (1958). On appeal, therefore, this court can independently review the district court’s legal conclusions.
We conclude that the Minnesota State Building Code is incorporated in the county’s zoning ordinance. The zoning ordinance explicitly refers to the Building Code. See Chisago County, Minn. Zoning Ordinance § 4.02 (“Building permits are issued to cover all structures regulated by the Building Code.”). According to Chisago County’s Director of Environmental Services, building permits are “authorized under the zoning ordinance through the state building code.” In order to enforce the ordinance’s provisions, the zoning ordinance must incorporate the building code. See State ex rel. Utick v. Bd. of Comm’rs of Polk County, 87 Minn. 325, 341, 92 N.W.2d 216, 220 (1902) (“[E]very statute is understood to contain, by implication, if not by its express terms, all such provisions as may be necessary to effectuate its object and purpose, or to make effective the rights, powers, privileges, or jurisdiction which it grants, and also all such collateral and subsidiary consequences as may be fairly and logically inferred from its terms.”)
Blakey admits that he did not obtain a building permit. We conclude, therefore, that the district court did not err in holding Blakey criminally liable for violating § 106.1 of the Building Code and § 4.01 of the zoning ordinance.
* Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.