may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Filed June 21, 2005
Chaska Economic Development Authority
Kirk A. Schnitker, Jon W. Morphew, Schnitker & Associates, P.A., 2300 Central Avenue Northeast, Minneapolis, MN 55418 (for relator River City Woodworking)
Luke L. Melchert, R. Lawrence Harris, Melchert Hubert Sjodin, PLLP, 121 West Main Street, Suite 200, Waconia, MN 55387 (for respondent Chaska Economic Development Authority)
Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge; Wright, Judge; and Poritsky, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
When respondent acquired relator’s property as part of a redevelopment project, relator became entitled to reimbursement for certain expenses incurred in relocating its business. An administrative hearing officer denied various claims made by relator for relocation expenses. By writ of certiorari, relator argues that the hearing officer erred in holding that relator was not entitled to reimbursement for (1) the full amount of its claimed self-move; (2) pre- and post-judgment interest; (3) costs incurred in the storage of its personal property in trucks and trailers purchased for its move; (4) costs incurred in the use of its own forklifts during the move; and (5) costs of installing new cabinets and countertops at the replacement property. We affirm.
On June 25, 1999,
respondent City of Chaska Economic Development Authority (CEDA) served a
petition seeking to acquire property owned by Ronald A. Paul (“Paul”) and
In August 1999, CEDA and RCW, along with other property owners whose property was to be condemned, entered into a stipulation and agreement concerning fixtures that CEDA would acquire as part of its condemnation. The parties signed a second stipulation and agreement, dated October 7, 1999, under the terms of which CEDA agreed to determine, identify, and appraise all fixtures that it intended to acquire. On October 13, 1999, the district court granted CEDA’s condemnation petition and ordered that the “quick take” of the property occur on February 29, 2000, and that the property be vacated by that date. In addition, the district court stated that
tenant shall be entitled to relocation for the moving of its inventory to one storage place, storage and move from said storage place to one permanent relocation. That said relocation move for the inventory shall be strictly limited to inventory only and specifically excludes trade fixtures, equipment and machinery.
The court also appointed three commissioners to determine the appropriate compensation for the condemnation.
On November 3, 1999, an appraiser
inspected RCW’s business and listed 75 fixtures that the CEDA would purchase as
part of the “quick take.” CEDA paid Paul
andRCW $277,300 as compensation for
taking the land, building, and fixtures.
The appraiser also included a list of moveable property, which RCW would
move to the new location. According to
RCW began planning for the move on January 3, 2000. Even though CEDA acquired the property on February 29, 2000, RCW did not move out of the condemned property until March 19, 2000. RCW chose not to use professional movers, but chose instead do a “self-move,” that is, to use its own employees to move its property. RCW resumed the business of making cabinets on August 28, 2000, but Paul and the other employees continued to organize and set up the new facility. Paul claims that the business is still not fully re-established.
On April 12, 2002, RCW
submitted a relocation claim for $445,428.09.
The claim included $80,000 for
storage costs and more than $290,000 for labor involved in moving and re-establishing
the business at the new location between 2000 and 2002. RCW attached sheets listing the number of
hours spent moving and re-establishing the business to document the labor
RCW appealed the denial
of its claims to a hearing officer. A
hearing was held on April 5-6, 2004, at which Paul and two employees of the
D E C I S I O N
court reviews quasi-judicial administrative decisions by writ of
certiorari. Dietz v. Dodge County,
487 N.W.2d 237, 239 n.3 (
The regulations provide a list of expenses that are covered as part of a business’s relocation. 49 C.F.R. § 24.303 (currently 49 C.F.R. § 24.301(g) (2005)). The list is not exhaustive, and the regulations provide a catchall which states that a business is entitled to “other moving-related expenses . . . as the Agency determines to be reasonable and necessary.” 49 C.F.R. § 24.303(a)(14) (currently 49 C.F.R. § 24.301(g)(7)). Thus, for a business to receive reimbursement, the agency must find that the expenses are reasonable and necessary.
RCW first challenges the hearing officer’s determination that it was entitled to only an additional $21,057.50 for labor costs involved in the self-move. It argues that it should receive payment for all employee hours it spent in its self-move, and “that it is eligible to receive payment for its entire documented self-move claim in the amount of $286,165.”
produced timesheets indicating the hours spent moving. RCW argues that as long as it performed
eligible tasks then it should be fully compensated. But the regulations require that the tasks
performed and the hours spent doing the tasks to be reasonable. See 49 C.F.R. § 24.303 (“Payment
for actual reasonable moving and related expenses”) (currently 49 C.F.R.
§ 24.301). The hearing officer
determined that RCW is not entitled to be reimbursed for its entire claim,
finding that only a fraction of its claimed expenses for labor was reasonable
and necessary. The evidence supports
this finding based on Daniel Wilson’s testimony that the number of hours RCW claimed
it spent moving and the labor costs of the move were unreasonable. See Blue Cross & Blue Shield of
argues that the hearing officer’s decision is arbitrary and capricious because
the hearing officer allowed only part of its claim, but not the full amount. But the hearing officer awarded the
additional amount based on a finding that it represented reasonable hours
spent organizing the business and denied the remainder on a finding that such
additional costs were unreasonable.
RCW’s position amounts to an argument that the hearing officer must
either accept all or none of its claim.
This argument is unpersuasive. The
hearing officer awarded the additional $21,057.50, based on Paul’s testimony,
and denied the remainder, based on
RCW also claims that the hearing officer acted arbitrarily and capriciously by denying RCW’s claims for reimbursing labor related to its move for 2001, 2002, and 2003. The hearing officer found that the costs for those years were “unreasonable given the fact that the move commenced one year prior. . . . RCW has now been operating out [sic] their new location for almost three years. These costs are unreasonable and are hereby denied for payment.” RCW conceded in its brief that “[h]ad the Hearing Officer concluded that certain documented self-move expenses were not eligible because they were not reasonable or necessary[,] it may have made some sense.” But that is precisely what the hearing officer concluded: that RCW’s self-move expenses for 2001, 2002, and 2003 were unreasonable. The record supports the hearing officer’s determination, and RCW has failed to provide any legal reasoning or support of its argument that the hearing officer’s determination is arbitrary or capricious.
support of its claim to be reimbursed for all employee-labor costs incurred in
its self-move, RCW argues at length that
RCW next challenges the hearing
officer’s denial of pre- and post-judgment interest. RCW concedes that
Chapter 117 does not define “damages,” but in light of the references to “the commissioner’s report” and “proceedings against the land,” it is our opinion that the interest provision relates only to land-condemnation proceedings. Moreover, relocation benefits deal exclusively with personal property, and because personal property is not compensable in an eminent domain proceeding, the statutory requirements for an eminent domain proceeding do not apply to personal property. See State by Humphrey v. Kouri, 415 N.W.2d 412, 413 (Minn. App. 1987) (“Personal property which is to be removed upon the termination of a lease is not a compensable interest in an eminent domain proceeding”), review denied (Minn. Jan. 28, 1988).
RCW cites Minn. Stat. § 549.09 (2004) (relating to interest) and Henry v. Metro. Waste Control Comm’n, 401 N.W.2d 401, 407 (Minn. App. 1987), to support its claim for pre- and post-judgment interest. However, in Henry this court ruled that section 549.09 does not apply to administrative hearings and does not play a role in determining whether interest is appropriate in any administrative proceeding. Henry, 401 N.W.2d at 407. Thus, section 549.09 is of no help to RCW. We conclude, therefore, that section 117.195 does not require pre or post judgment interest for relocation claims.
RCW next argues the hearing
officer’s denial of costs for storing personal property in trucks and trailers
it purchased for the move was arbitrary because the hearing officer did not
state that these costs were unreasonable.
RCW claims that because 49 C.F.R. § 24.303(a)(4) (currently 49
C.F.R. § 24.301(g)(4) (2005)) generally covers storage, RCW should be
reimbursed. RCW purchased several trucks
and trailers to use for storage of RCW’s personal property during the
move. RCW submitted a claim for the
approximate rental cost for similar trucks and trailers, and argues that it
should be reimbursed for that amount. But
section 24.303(a) authorizes payment for “actual” expenses. Because RCW used its own trucks and trailers,
it did not actually incur any costs. See
In re Relocation Benefits of James Bros. Furniture, Inc., 642 N.W.2d 91,
101 (Minn. App. 2002), review denied,
RCW next argues that it should be reimbursed for the costs it incurred for having to use its own forklifts during the move. RCW had one forklift on hand and purchased another for the move. As it did with respect to its trucks and trailers, RCW determined the fair-market rate for the monthly rent of a forklift, and seeks reimbursement in an amount based on such rental. In our view, however, the same reasoning that applies to the cost of storage in its own equipment applies here: Because RCW will have the forklifts after the move is completed, cost of renting is not a valid basis to determine “actual” costs attributable to the move.
Finally, RCW argues that the hearing
officer erred when she denied its claim for the cost of installing new cabinets
and countertops at its new showroom. The
hearing officer denied that claim because to allow it would constitute a “duplication
of payments” under 49 C.F.R. § 24.3 (unchanged). RCW argues that section 24.3 is a procedural
regulation and has not been adopted by
But as we view the issue, under the applicable regulation, a business is entitled to receive up to $10,000 for “[m]odifications to the replacement property to accommodate the business operation,” to “make replacement structures suitable for conducting the business,” or “[r]edecoration or replacement of soiled or worn surfaces at the replacement site, such as paint, paneling, or carpeting.” 49 C.F.R. §§ 24.304(a)(2), (5) (.304(a)(2) (unchanged); .304(a)(5) (currently 49 C.F.R. § 304.(a)(4) (2005)). RCW’s claim for installation of cabinets qualifies as a modification to accommodate the business or redecoration and is grouped with other reestablishment costs, which are capped at $10,000. RCW already received $10,000 in re-establishment expenses. Thus even if section 24.3 has not been adopted by Minnesota, the hearing officer’s ruling that RCW should not be paid twice for the same expenses is not arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable.
* Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
 The Federal Highway Administration revised, reorganized and renumbered these regulations, effective February 3, 2005. Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition for Federal and Federally-Assisted Programs, 70 Fed. Reg. 590, 603-04 (Jan. 4, 2005) (codified at 49 C.F.R. pt. 24). We note that although the version of these regulations in effect at the time of the claims for relocation expenses was amended, the changes do not affect the substance of this opinion.
 RCW also relies on an order from an administrative law
judgment in a separate relocation proceeding to support its argument. The case is factually distinguishable because
in that case the agency did not promptly pay relocation claims and often
delayed payment for more than 100 days with no explanation. But, here the relocation-consultation firm
noted that RCW’s claims were vague, unclear, and required additional
documentation. In addition, RCW’s
reliance on unpublished authority is not a persuasive argument for this
court. See Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3(c) (“Unpublished opinions
of the court of appeals are not precedential.”); Vlahos v. R&I Constr., Inc., 676 N.W.2d 672, 676 n.3 (