This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
McGlennen Properties, LLC,
City of Savage,
Gordon W. Shumaker, Judge
Scott County District Court
File No. 02-26607
Jeffrey A. Carson, Anna Krause Crabb, Carson, Clelland & Schreder, 6300 Shingle Creek Parkway, Suite 305, Minneapolis, MN 55430 (for appellant)
David G. Keller, Grannis & Hauge, P.A., 200 Towne Center Professional Building, 1260 Yankee Doodle Road, Eagan, MN 55121-1201 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge; Shumaker, Judge; and Forsberg, Judge.*
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
GORDON W. SHUMAKER, Judge
On appeal in this special-assessment dispute, appellant landowner argues (1) it introduced competent evidence to show that the assessment levied against it by respondent city exceeded the increase in the value of appellant’s land and therefore rebutted the presumption that the assessment was valid; (2) the district court erred in waiving the requirement that the city present additional evidence once appellant met its initial burden to overcome the presumption that the assessment was valid; and (3) the district court erred in admitting the city’s appraisal. Because appellant did not introduce competent evidence to rebut the presumption that the assessment was valid, we affirm the district court and hold that the city was not required to present additional evidence.
Appellant McGlennen Properties owns townhouse units in the Hamilton District of Savage, Minnesota. In November of 2002, respondent City of Savage approved a levy of special assessments to install sanitary sewer, water main, storm sewer, bituminous street, curb and gutter, and sidewalks in the Hamilton District. Appellant was assessed $45,000 for the portion of the project involving its property.
Appellant appealed to the district court under Minn. Stat. § 429.081 (2002), challenging the assessment. The only issue before the district court was whether the project increased appellant’s property value by at least the amount of the assessment. Jason Wadell, an engineer for the city, testified that, prior to the improvements in the Hamilton District, the sewer and water main were too shallow for frost protection and water flow, the sewer line had been built with inferior piping that frequently clogged the line, the hydrant on the water main was faulty, and most of the area lacked storm sewers. Wadell testified that, without the improvements, there was risk of flooding, sewer backups, and breakage of the water main because of pitting.
Timothy McGlennen testified that he
and his father are partners in appellant McGlennen Properties and that they
purchased the property in August of 2001, with full knowledge that the city
intended to improve the sewer and streets in the Hamilton
District. McGlennen testified that he did not see any need for the improvements the city made.
Laurence Danich, also a licensed real estate appraiser, testified on behalf of the city and submitted an appraisal report. Danich based his appraisal report on the sale of four single-family properties in surrounding communities in 1999.
The district court concluded that appellant did not overcome the presumption that the city’s assessment is valid because appellant failed to show that the special assessment was greater than the increase in market values of the property resulting from the city’s improvements. This appeal followed.
D E C I S I O N
In reviewing the validity of a special assessment,this court carefully examines 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-Lang Realty Co. v. City of Windom, 307 Minn. 368, 373, 240 N.W.2d 517, 521 (1976). This court’s task is to review the district court’s findings de novo review, with impartial scrutiny of all evidence. Ewert v. City of Winthrop, 278 N.W.2d 545, 549 (Minn. 1979).
Appellant argues that it introduced competent evidence at trial to overcome the presumption of validity of the city’s special assessment. Within 30 days after adoption of an assessment, any aggrieved person may appeal to the district court by serving a notice upon the mayor or clerk of the municipality. Minn. Stat. § 429.081 (2002). An assessment “is presumed to be lawful and correct and the burden of proof rests upon the objector to demonstrate its invalidity.” Ewert, 278 N.W.2d at 548. Thus, introduction of the assessment roll into evidence constitutes prima facie proof that the assessment does not exceed special benefit. Carlson-Lang, 307 Minn. at 370, 240 N.W.2d at 519. An aggrieved person may, however, overcome the presumption by introducing competent evidence that the assessment is greater than the increase in market value of the property due to the improvement. Ewert, 278 N.W.2d at 548.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.