This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Interstate Companies, Inc., et al.,
Carol Molnau, Lieutenant Governor, et al.,
Filed November 8, 2005
Ramsey County District Court
File No. C9-04-9370
Lee A. Henderson, Hessian & McKasy, P.A., 864 Ford Centre, 420 North 5th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55401; and
Thomas E. Harms, Thomas E. Harms, PLLC, 7601 France Avenue South, Suite 275, Edina, MN 55435 (for appellants)
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Kelly S. Kemp, Assistant
Attorney General, 1800
Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; and Wright, Judge.
Appellants challenge the district court’s order dismissing their claims for (1) mandamus, (2) illegal rulemaking, and (3) violation of their right to equal protection, on the ground that the dismissal was in error because the district court had jurisdiction over each claim. Because we conclude that the district court correctly concluded that it lacked jurisdiction over these claims, we affirm.
Appellants Interstate Companies (Interstate), Gordon D. Galerneau, Jr., and Penny Sue Galerneau operate a business at 2501 and 2601 East 80th Street, Bloomington, Minnesota. Gordon D. Galerneau, Jr. is Interstate’s sole owner and the owner of the 2501 building; Penny Sue Galerneau owns the 2601 building. The buildings are located near the end of the new north-south runway that recently opened at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport (MSP).
construction of the new north-south runway and the expansion of another
compelled a revision of the existing airport zoning ordinance.
this matter, a JAZB was formed in 2001, and a proposed ordinance was submitted
to the commissioner in late 2003. In
early 2004, the commissioner issued an order conditionally approving the
ordinance. Thereafter, the JAZB
submitted its proposed final version of the ordinance to the commissioner, and
the commissioner issued an order approving the ordinance on April 22,
2004. The JAZB adopted the ordinance on
April 29, 2004, and the city of
filed suit, seeking (1) a writ of mandamus compelling respondents to comply
with the applicable statutes and regulations; (2) a judgment that the
commissioner engaged in illegal rulemaking; and (3) a judgment finding a
violation of the equal protection clauses of the
Respondents moved to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to Minn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(a) and (e). The district court granted the motion and dismissed the complaint without prejudice, concluding that it lacked jurisdiction to entertain appellants’ claims and that the action was premature. This appeal follows.
jurisdiction is a question of law, which this court reviews de novo. Shaw v.
Bd. of Regents of Univ. of Minn., 594 N.W.2d 187, 190 (Minn. App. 1999), review denied (Minn. July 28,
1999). Motions to dismiss for failure to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted are also reviewed de novo. Leonard
v. Nw. Airlines, 605 N.W.2d 425, 428 (
jurisdiction refers to the court’s authority to hear a case. Hanson
v. Woolston, 701 N.W.2d 257, 264 (
The supreme court
has outlined the following test for identifying whether a decision is
quasi-legislative or quasi-judicial: a
decision is quasi-judicial when there is “(1) investigation into a disputed
claim and weighing of evidentiary facts; (2) application of those facts to a
prescribed standard; and (3) a binding decision regarding the disputed
determine whether the commissioner’s decision was quasi-judicial, we must first
consider whether the commissioner’s decision to approve the JAZB’s proposed
zoning regulations was marked by an investigation into a disputed claim and
weighing of evidentiary facts.
In addition, the commissioner’s decision was not the result of a mere gathering and considering of information, a course eschewed as decidedly not quasi-judicial in MCEA. 587 N.W.2d at 843. Here, the process by which the department concluded, and the JAZB proved, that the social and economic costs outweigh strict application of the standards was much more intensive and earnest than mere gathering of information.
In the order approving the proposed regulations, the commissioner noted that the JAZB’s first submission draft did not conform to the commissioner’s standards, and the commissioner accordingly directed an agency review to determine “whether the JAZB analysis successfully demonstrates that the social and economic costs of restricting land uses in accordance with the Commissioner’s prescribed standards outweigh the benefits of a strict application of the standards.” The commissioner further noted that a “comprehensive review” took place, where a number of factors from a variety of sources were considered. The order finds that the agency considered the “location of the airport, existing land uses and character of the neighborhood, uses planned and adaptable,” statutory public-safety references, extent of runway use, and the type of aircraft. The analysis also comprised “a critical review of the JAZB recommendation and supporting analysis and documentation by the Department’s Office of Aeronautics.” The commissioner’s order clearly reflects the department’s extensive investigation and scrutiny of the proposed regulations and the litany of factors and circumstances weighed in determining whether strict application of the standards was warranted in light of the resulting social and economic costs. We therefore conclude that the first prong of the test is met here.
the court must consider whether respondents applied the facts gleaned from
their investigation to a prescribed standard when deciding to approve the
proposed zoning regulations. MCEA, 587 N.W.2d at 842.
[T]he municipality, county, or joint airport zoning board which is to adopt the regulations shall submit its proposed regulations to the commissioner in order that the commissioner may determine whether it conforms to the standards prescribed by the commissioner. The commissioner shall immediately examine the proposed regulations and report to the municipality, county, or joint airport zoning board the commissioner’s approval, or objections, if any. If objections are made by the commissioner on the ground that the regulations do not conform to the standards prescribed by the commissioner for the class of airport involved, the municipality, county, or joint zoning board shall make amendments as are necessary to meet the objections unless it demonstrates that the social and economic costs of restricting land uses in accordance with the standards outweigh the benefits of a strict application of the standards.
Minn. Stat. § 360.065, subd. 2 (2004) (emphasis added). The commissioner’s airport zoning standards are authorized in Minn. Stat. §§ 360.0154, .066 (2004), and are set forth in Minn. R. 8800.2400-.2500 (2005).
The commissioner’s April 2004 order outlines the agency’s extensive examination, correctly identifies the statutory standard to be applied, and specifically states that the agency reviewed the proposed ordinance according to that statutory mandate. We therefore conclude that the second prong of the quasi-judicial test is met.
Finally, the court must consider whether the April 2004 order amounts to a binding decision regarding the disputed claim. MCEA, 587 N.W.2d at 842. The commissioner’s decision is a binding one because the commissioner’s approval is a necessary precursor to the adoption of the ordinance and because the ordinance was actually adopted as a final decision. We conclude that the third prong is met.
provides an adequate remedy, a district court lacks jurisdiction to issue a
writ of mandamus. Silver Bay Area
Citizens Concerned for Quality Educ. v. Lake Superior Sch. Dist. No. 381, 448 N.W.2d 92, 95-96 (Minn. App.
1989), review denied (
also note that appellants erroneously argue that this court’s order in an
earlier, related lawsuit provided guidance that the present claim is
jurisdictional in the district court. In
the first appeal, appellants petitioned this court for review of the threatened
application of the proposed zoning ordinance before the commissioner approved
it and before the JAZB adopted it. Interstate Cos. v.
II. Improper Rulemaking
means every agency statement of general applicability and future effect . . .
adopted to implement or make specific the law enforced or administered by that
agency . . . .” Minn.
Stat. § 14.02, subd. 4 (2004). Rules
must be adopted according to the procedures set forth in the Minnesota
Administrative Procedure Act. Minn.
Stat. § 14.05, subd. 1 (2004). “[T]he
failure to comply with necessary procedures results in invalidity of the
III. Equal Protection
The supreme court has held that declaratory judgment is an appropriate
remedy for a controversy concerning legal rights requiring judicial
interpretation. Connor v. Twp. of
A justiciable controversy must exist before
Appellants allege injuries that may only possibly
come to fruition upon adoption and implementation of a zoning ordinance by the
JAZB and the city of
Because the commissioner’s order has not resulted in a direct and imminent injury to appellants, there is no justiciable controversy here. Because there is no justiciable controversy, the district court lacks jurisdiction to issue a declaratory judgment concerning the constitutionality of the commissioner’s April 2004 order, and the district court did not err in dismissing the claim without prejudice.