This opinion will be unpublished and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

CX-01-1221

 

Dr. Barry and Judy Gilbert, et al.,

Appellants,

 

vs.

 

Minnesota State Office of Strategic

and Long-Range Planning

and the City of Rochester,

Respondents.

 

Filed January 29, 2002

Affirmed

Randall, Judge

 

Olmsted County District Court

File No. C8-01-0378

 

Kenneth R. Moen, Dunlap & Seeger, 206 South Broadway, Suite 505, P.O. Box 549, Rochester, MN 55903 (for appellants)

 

Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Kenneth E. Raschke, Jr., Assistant Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 200, St. Paul, MN  55103-2106; and

 

Terry L. Adkins, Rochester City Attorney, David M. Goslee, Assistant City Attorney, 201 Fourth Street Southeast, Room 247, Rochester, MN  55904-3780 (for respondents)

 

 

            Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Randall, Judge, and Amundson, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N

R. A. RANDALL, Judge

In this annexation dispute, the district court granted respondents summary judgment affirming the state planning office's determination that it lacked the power to review the city's annexation action.  Appellants allege that the state planning office's refusal to interfere with the annexation was based on the office’s misreading of Minn. Stat. §§ 414.01, .031, and .033 (2000).  Appellants also allege that the planning office’s decision was arbitrary or capricious because the annexation was allowed even though it was contrary to the considerations listed in Minn. Stat. § 414.033, subd. 10.  We affirm.

FACTS

At issue is the fate of approximately 918 acres of land within Rochester Township (the township) that is completely surrounded by the City of Rochester (the city).  The Rochester City Council conducted a hearing regarding the city’s proposal to annex this land.  At the hearing, representatives of appellant landowners and the township testified that the proposed annexation did not fulfill the criteria listed in Minn. Stat. §§ 414.01, subd. 1, .031, subd. 4 (2000).  They also testified that there was substantial political opposition to the annexation from the residents of the township who would become residents of the city.  At the conclusion of the hearing, the city approved an annexation ordinance.

The city then filed the annexation ordinance with the Minnesota State Office of Strategic and Long-Range Planning (planning office).  Shortly thereafter, appellants filed an objection to the annexation with the planning office, arguing that: (1) the evidence received at the hearing did not demonstrate compliance with the statutory criteria, (2) the objecting neighborhoods were better served by the township, (3) the township would suffer undue hardship by approval of the ordinance, (4) the increase in revenue to be received by the city did not bear any reasonable relation to the monetary value of benefits conferred upon the objecting neighborhoods, and (5) the annexation ordinance failed to distinguish between areas of the annexation that would benefit from annexation and those that would not.

After the city filed its response, the planning office approved the annexation ordinance noting that there was no statutory provision for objection, and so it was without authority to conduct further review.[1]  It therefore declined to request additional material about the propriety of the annexation.  Appellants appealed this decision to the district court, which granted summary judgment in favor of the city.  This appeal followed.

D E C I S I O N

Appellants challenge the grant of summary judgment in support of the planning board’s determination that they were without authority to consider whether the statutory criteria set forth in Minn. Stat. §§ 414.01, subd. 1, 414.031, subd. 4 (2000) were met, arguing that Minn. Stat. § 414.033, subd. 10 (2000) gives the planning board such authority.  Interpretation of a statute and its application to undisputed facts present questions of law reviewed de novo.  Lefto v. Hoggsbreath Enters., Inc., 581 N.W.2d 855, 856 (Minn. 1998).  When a statute’s words are clear and unambiguous, the plain meaning is given effect.  Minn. Stat. § 645.16 (2000).  Related parts of a statute are considered together to give the words their plain meaning.  Chanhassen Estates Residents Ass'n v. City of Chanhassen, 342 N.W.2d 335, 339 (Minn. 1984); see also Minn. Stat. § 645.16 (2000) (statute must be considered as a whole to harmonize and give effect to all provisions).

The legislature has provided two mechanisms for cities to annex land: annexation by board order by Minn. Stat. § 414.031 (2000), and annexation by ordinance by Minn. Stat. § 414.033 (2000).  Rockford Tp. v. City of Rockford, 608 N.W.2d 903, 906 (Minn. App. 2000).  Each method has different procedures and requirements.  Id.  For example, annexations by board order require the state planning board to hold hearings and make a decision based upon its consideration of the factors listed in Minn. Stat. § 414.031, subd. 4(a)-(n).  Minn. Stat. § 414.031, subds. 3, 4 (2000).  Annexations by ordinance are permitted in limited circumstances and transfer the notice and hearing requirements to the municipality that is seeking to annex certain land.  Rockford Tp., 608 N.W.2d at 906.  The legislature determined that the presence of these circumstances signifies appropriate conditions for annexation.  This presumptive determination is what explains the streamlined approval process for annexations by ordinance.  Among these limited circumstances is when the land to be annexed is “completely surrounded by land within the municipal limits.”  Minn. Stat. § 414.033, subd. 2(2).  The land at issue here is completely surrounded by land within the municipal limits.

If the property, qualifies for annexation by ordinance, two procedural requirements must be met.  First, the municipality must hold a public hearing with written notice.  Minn. Stat. § 414.033, subd. 2b (2000).  The parties do not dispute that a public hearing with proper notice was held.  Second, any annexation ordinance passed must be properly filed with the planning board, the township, the county auditor, and the secretary of state.  Minn. Stat. § 414.044, subd. 7 (2000).  There is no dispute that the ordinance was properly filed.

Appellants continue to argue that the planning board must consider the annexation in light of the statutory criteria set forth in sections 414.01, subdivision 1, and 414.031, subdivision 4.  According to appellants, Minn. Stat. § 414.033, subd. 10, provides a mechanism for the board to approve or disapprove of an annexation ordinance by consideration of these same factors.  This section states:

The municipal board may, at its discretion, require the city or property owners to furnish additional information concerning an annexation by ordinance to inform the board about the extent to which the proposed annexation conforms to the statutory criteria set forth in sections 414.01, subdivision 1 and 414.031, subdivision 4.

Minn. Stat. § 414.033, subd. 10.  Appellants argue that the fact that the board has authority to request this information signifies that it is authorized, and even compelled, to consider such information.  We disagree.  Under the language of this section, the board’s authority to request this information is discretionary.  Further, the only references to these considerations in annexation by ordinance are contained within Minn. Stat. § 414.033, subdivisions 3 and 5.  No statutory provision gives the board authority to consider the criteria set forth in sections 414.01, subd. 1, and 414.031, subd. 4, in annexations by ordinance under Minn. Stat. § 414.033, subd. 2.

Appellants next argue that these criteria must be considered because without doing so, section 414.033, subd. 10, is rendered superfluous.  But, as noted, consideration of section 414.031, subd. 4, criteria is required in annexation by ordinance proceedings that meet the requirements of Minn. Stat. § 414.033, subds. 3, 5.  The land here does not fit within these provisions.  As for the board’s discretionary authority to request additional information regarding Minn. Stat. § 414.01, subd. 1, this section outlines the overall purpose of the board, and the public policies that the legislature has determined that the board shall pursue.  Minn. Stat. § 414.01, subd. 1.  But the board is simply not required to conduct hearings regarding these policy objectives.  To do so would obviate the distinction between annexation by ordinance and annexation by board order.

Lastly, appellants argue that without authority to review annexations by ordinance for conformity with Minn. Stat. § 414.031, subd. 4, the provision for board approval of an annexation ordinance is meaningless.  That is not exactly correct.  The board reviews the ordinance to ensure that at least one of the conditions enumerated in Minn. Stat. § 414.033, subd. 2, has been met and all of the procedural requirements of Minn. Stat. § 414.033, subd. 2b, have been met.

Affirmed.



[1]  In oral argument, the planning office reiterated its position that it is without authority to mandate a contested hearing.