This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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






Robbinsdale Farm-Garden-Pet Supply, Inc.,
Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority,

Filed October 1, 2002


Robert H. Schumacher, Judge

Hennepin County District Court

File No. CT008843


Paul Kieffer, Kieffer & Associates, 701 Fourth Avenue South, Suite 901, Minneapolis, MN  55415 (for appellant)


Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Mark V. Chapin, Assistant County Attorney, A-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN  55487 (for respondent)


            Considered and decided by Anderson, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and Hudson, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Appellant Robbinsdale Farm-Garden-Pet Supply, Inc. brought a declaratory judgment action, claiming entitlement to compensation under the Minnesota Uniform Relocation Act.  Minn. Stat. § 117.52 (2000).  The district court ruled that it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction.  Robbinsdale Farm was required to appeal by certiorari to the court of appeals within 60 days.  It did not satisfy this jurisdictional requirement.  We affirm.


            Robbinsdale Farm leased land from Burlington Northern Railroad Company and its affiliated company from the  late 1960s until 1991.  Robbinsdale Farm constructed a warehouse on the land.  The lease stated that at the time of cancellation, Robbinsdale Farm was responsible for the cost of removing its buildings from the land, and it required Robbinsdale Farm to restore the land to a satisfactory condition.  The last lease signed with Burlington was in 1983 for an "indefinite lease term" subject to the right of each party to cancel by providing 30 days' written notice.

            In 1989, Glacier Park Company acquired the land from Burlington and assumed all rights and responsibilities under the lease.  Glacier Park Company was a former affiliate of Burlington and a subsidiary of Burlington Resources, Inc.

            In July 1991, Glacier Park sold the land to respondent Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority.  The leased land was identified as a rail corridor for light-rail transit and commuter rail.  In late 1991, Railroad Authority incorporated the lease into their format and changed the duration of the lease to a six-month term with a renewal clause.  After the lease expired, the parties agreed to three additional consecutive leases. 

            The last lease, which is the subject of this lawsuit, was entered into for a term of five years, ending on July 31, 2000.  The lease also provided that Railroad Authority intended to lease the land to Robbinsdale Farm only until it was needed "for the purpose of constructing a light rail transit system and its associated facilities." 

            In October 1999 and February 2000, Robbinsdale Farm requested renewal of the lease.  In letters dated March and April 2000, Railroad Authority denied Robbinsdale Farm's request to renew.  Robbinsdale Farm's lease expired on July 31, 2000.  Robbinsdale Farm removed its building from the leased land by September 2000.

            After the lease expired, Railroad Authority leased the property to the City of Robbinsdale (City).  The City redeveloped its fire station into a bus transit hub and an office building.  The land formerly leased by Robbinsdale Farm was to be used for additional parking for the police/fire building and for municipal parking.

            Robbinsdale Farm requested relocation benefits in a letter dated April 7, 2000.  Railroad Authority denied the request on May 16, 2000.  Robbinsdale Farm then brought suit in district court for relocation benefits under the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970, 42 U.S.C.S. §4652.

            On July 5, 2000, the district court issued an alternative writ of mandamus ordering Railroad Authority to institute condemnation proceedings or to show cause as to why it had not done so.  Railroad Authority filed an answer to the complaint and a motion for summary judgment.  Robbinsdale Farm brought a motion for judgment on the pleadings, or in the alternative, summary judgment.  On August 20, 2001, Railroad Authority filed a motion to dismiss the claim for relocation benefits due to lack of subject matter jurisdiction.  In December 2001, the district court granted Railroad Authority's motions.


            The Minnesota Uniform Relocation Act (MURA) was created to make public funds available for relocation costs incurred by households and businesses displaced by public acquisitions of property, where there is no federal financial participation.  See Minn. Stat. § 117.52 (2000).  Robbinsdale Farm argues that it should receive relocation benefits.

Railroad Authority argues that this court does not have jurisdiction because the decision to deny relocation benefits was a final decision and the time for appeal of that decision has expired.  The only method of review of a final administrative decision under MURA is by certiorari to this court under Minn. Stat. § 606.01 (2000).  See Naegele Outdoor Adver., Inc. v. Minneapolis Cmty. Dev. Agency, 551 N.W.2d 235, 236-38 (Minn. App. 1996) (concluding that judicial review of administrative body's quasi-judicial decision must be invoked by writ of certiorari).  Writs of certiorari must be filed within 60 days after the applying party receives notice of the final administrative decision.  Minn. Stat. § 606.01 (2000).

            Robbinsdale Farm argues that there "was no final administrative decision to appeal from because there was never an appeal."  This court recently decided In Re James Bros. Furniture, Inc., 642 N.W.2d 91 (Minn. App. 2001), addressing what constitutes a final administrative decision.  In James Brothers, after the denial of relocation benefits, James Brothers appealed and had two administrative hearings and then filed a writ of certiorari to the court of appeals.  Id. at 94-95.  This court concluded that under the facts of that case, the hearing officer's decision is the final administrative decision.  Id. at 96-98.

MURA does not identify an appeal procedure; it does, however, specify that the acquiring authority

shall provide all relocation assistance, services, payments and benefits required by the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 * * * and those regulations adopted pursuant thereto.


Minn. Stat. § 117.52, subd. 1.  As this court noted in James Brothers, "it is unclear whether it would be proper for the federal act to serve as the basis for MURA's appeal procedure."  James Brothers, 642 N.W.2d at 96.  The Code of Federal Regulations delineates a framework for appealing initial agency decisions concerning relocation benefits under the federal act:

Any aggrieved person may file a written appeal with the Agency in any case in which the person believes that the Agency has failed to properly consider the person's application for [relocation] assistance. 


49 C.F.R. § 24.10(b) (2000).  Following this regulation, Railroad Authority argues that because Robbinsdale Farm did not file a written appeal, the final administrative decision was Railroad Authority attorney's denial of relocation benefits and Robbinsdale Farm should have appealed by writ of certiorari to the court of appeals. 

            In its reply brief, Robbinsdale Farm argues that it did "request an appeal and the appeal was never provided."  Robbinsdale Farm contends that a faxed letter to Railroad Authority's attorney dated June 25, 2000, stating "Please advise if Hennepin County has an administrative appeal process" constitutes a request for an appeal.  Although Robbinsdale Farm included a copy of this letter in the appendix to the reply brief, review of the district court record failed to reveal the letter.  We cannot determine if the letter was before the district court, and this court cannot consider it.  This court must disregard documents that are not part of the district court record.  See Thiele v. Stich, 425 N.W.2d 580, 582-83 (Minn. 1988) (appellate court may not base its decision on matters outside record); see Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 110.01 (papers filed in district court, exhibits, and transcript, if any, shall constitute record on appeal). 

            Additionally, even if we were to consider the faxed letter requesting information regarding an appeal process, this does not equate to an actual request for an appeal of the determination.  Accordingly, Robbinsdale Farm never filed an appeal with Railroad Authority.  Instead, Robbinsdale Farm filed a complaint in district court on June 27, 2000 for declaratory judgment, writ of mandamus, and breach of contract and estoppel.  Robbinsdale Farm did not meet this threshold requirement even if the June 25, 2000 letter can be considered. 

            The district court was correct in finding that it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction and that the 60-day time limit for filing a writ of certiorari has passed.