This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Township of Franklin, petitioner,
City of Delano,
Wright County District Court
File Nos. C4-03-942 and C8-03-2869
Mark J. Johnson, Gregerson, Rosow, Johnson & Nilan, Ltd., 1600 Park Building, 650 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55402; and
Kenneth E. Raschke, Jr., Assistant Attorney General, 1800 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55103-2134 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Wright, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
TOUSSAINT, Chief Judge
Appellant Township of Franklin appeals the district court’s grant of summary judgment to respondent City of Delano in two consolidated appeals arising from annexation disputes. These consolidated appeals each involve one of two adjacent parcels of appellant’s land that respondent acquired in two independent annexation-by-ordinance proceedings. In each case (1) respondent approved the annexation following public hearing; (2) Minnesota Planning reviewed and approved the annexation in accordance with its statutory function; (3) appellant contested Minnesota Planning’s approval to the district court pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 414.07 (2002); and (4) the district court, acting as an appellate tribunal, granted summary judgment affirming Minnesota Planning’s approval. It is undisputed that each parcel independently met the statutory criteria for annexation by ordinance.
Appellant argues that the two annexations are
so related that they constitute the same annexation proceeding, and therefore
should be aggregated and rejected as exceeding the statutory 60-acre limit under
Minn. Stat. § 414.033, subd. 2(3) (2002).
Appellant also argues that Minnesota Planning is obligated to look
beyond the face of municipal documentation supporting an annexation by
ordinance. Because (1) there is no support for appellant’s aggregation theory; (2)
Minnesota Planning appropriately reviewed and approved the annexations; and (3)
it is undisputed that each annexation independently met the statutory criteria,
D E C I S I O N
Where a trial court acts as an appellate tribunal with respect to an agency decision, this court will independently review the agency decision. In re Hutchinson, 440 N.W.2d 171, 175 (Minn. App. 1989), review denied (Minn. Aug. 9, 1989).
The legislature has provided two mechanisms for cities to annex land: annexation by board order and annexation by ordinance. Minn. Stat. § § 414.031, .033 (2002). Each method has unique procedures and requirements. For example, annexations by board order require Minnesota Planning to hold hearings and make a decision based upon its consideration of the factors listed in Minn. Stat. § 414.031, subd. 4(a)-(h). Id. § 414.031, subds. 3, 4. In contrast, annexations by ordinance are permitted in limited circumstances where specific statutory criteria are met and transfer the notice and hearing requirements from Minnesota Planning to the municipality that is seeking to annex the land. Id., § 414.033, subds. 2, 26; Rockford Tp. v. City of Rockford, 608 N.W.2d 903, 906 (Minn. App. 2000). Id., subd. 2. Among these limited circumstances is when (1) the land to be annexed abuts the city; (2) the land does not exceed 60 acres; (3) the land is not presently served by public sewer facilities; and (4) the city receives a petition for annexation from all property owners of the land. Minn. Stat. § 414.033, subd. 2(3). Minnesota Planning reviews the annexation to determine whether the statutory criteria are met.
Appellant argues that the independent annexations of the two parcels at issue are so related that they constitute the same annexation proceeding, and therefore should be aggregated. In effect, appellant urges this court to read into Minn. Stat. § 414.033 a proximity provision prohibiting the annexation of two independently annexable parcels when the parcels are “so related” and together would violate the parcel-size restriction. However, appellant failed to identify any support for its proffered statutory interpretation. In fact, no statutory provision permits, much less requires, aggregation of independently valid annexations by ordinance, however related. See Minn. Stat. § 414.033. This court has held that it must not add language to a statute that the legislature has deliberately or inadvertently omitted. Wolf Motor Co., Inc. v. One 2000 Ford F-350, 658 N.W.2d 900, 903 (Minn. App. 2003). Appellant’s aggregation theory is unsupported by Minnesota law.
Appellant argues that Minnesota Planning is obligated to look beyond the face of municipal documentation supporting an annexation by ordinance. The record demonstrates that Minnesota Planning interprets the annexation-by-ordinance statute to give it no authority to “examine, or pass judgment on, the wisdom, planning policies, motivations, or other substantive issues relating to such annexations.” Instead, it examines each annexation by ordinance to determine if the objective statutory criteria are met under Minn. Stat. § 414.033.
Minnesota Planning acted within its statutory role when it approved the annexations by ordinance after determining that the objective criteria for each were met. In contrast to its review of annexations by board order, Minnesota Planning is not required by statute to undertake a substantive review of annexations by ordinance. Compare Minn. Stat. § 414.031 with Minn. Stat. § 414.033. Rather, the plain language of the statute permits annexations by ordinance, with no further inquiry, when the statutory criteria are met. Minn. Stat. § 414.033, subd. 2 (“A municipal council may by ordinance declare land annexed to the municipality . . . if [the statutory criteria are met]”). Here, it is undisputed that the statutory criteria were met with respect to each parcel.
 Minn. Stat. § 414.01, subd. 1 (2002) delegates state jurisdiction over municipal boundary adjustments to the Director of the Office of Strategic and Long-Range Planning. That authority was transferred to the Department of Administration pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 16B.37 (2002). For convenience, this opinion will use the term “Minnesota Planning” to refer to the state agency that took action in these matters.