This opinion will be unpublished and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
Larry Pfaff, et al.,
Filed December 20, 2005
Gordon W. Shumaker, Judge
Cass County District Court
File No. C9-03-0889
Thomas R. Borden, Virginia J. Knudson, Borden, Steinbauer, Krueger & Knudson, P.A., 302 South Sixth Street, Brainerd, MN 56401 (for respondent)
Larry C. Minton, Kimberly J.
Stimac, Law Offices of Larry C. Minton, Ltd.,
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge; Shumaker, Judge; and Hudson, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
GORDON W. SHUMAKER, Judge
Appellants challenge the district court’s determination that a certain road was deemed dedicated to the public and the court’s grant of an injunction. They argue that the record does not support the determination and that there was no proper basis for injunctive relief. We affirm.
This case arises out of a dispute about whether a strip of land in the Town of Crooked Lake is a statutorily dedicated public road. After a trial, the district court concluded that it is and enjoined appellants, who are adjacent landowners, from encroaching on it. Appellants contend that the district court erred in its conclusion and in its order for injunctive relief. The evidence shows the following facts.
in the 1950s, the public used a strip of land approximately 25 feet wide along
the west edge of
survey in 1986 showed the strip of land as an “existing dirt road.” From 1988 to 1992, William Korman, chairman
of the town board, owned
of Lot 1, Block 4, is a bar and restaurant.
Immediately west of that land is a gravel parking lot for the bar and
restaurant, which also provides access to
witnesses, including municipal employees, town residents who used the strip as
a road, and landowners in the vicinity, testified as to the road’s use and
maintenance. That testimony showed that
since the 1950s the strip had been maintained from time to time by grading and
snowplowing. One municipal employee
testified that he worked on the road in 1957, graded it and plowed it from 1971
through 1975, and provided the same type of maintenance in grading and plowing
as he did for
presented evidence that the public use of access to
D E C I S I O N
The district court found that a
strip of land approximately 25 feet wide along the west side of
Our review of the district court’s
determination is “limited to deciding whether the trial court’s findings are
clearly erroneous and whether it erred in its legal conclusions.” Citizens
State Bank of Hayfield v. Leth, 450 N.W.2d 923, 925 (
Maintenance of Road
The relevant portion of the controlling statute provides:
When any road or portion of a road has been used and kept in repair and worked for at least six years continuously as a public highway by a road authority, it shall be deemed dedicated to the public to the width of the actual use and be and remain, until lawfully vacated, a public highway whether it has ever been established as a public highway or not.
show continued maintenance, “[i]t is not necessary that every part of a road be
worked at government expense or that any particular part receive attention
every year of the 6-year period.” Leeper v. Hampton Hills, Inc., 290
record contains ample testimony to support the district court’s finding that
maintenance of the road was of the same quality and character as that performed
on existing roads. Charles Fairbanks,
who was a member of the town board of supervisors from approximately 1984 to
1995, testified that he graded and plowed the road “about the same as
the record contains testimony of neighbors that further supports the district court’s
findings. Kirk Smith testified that from
1982 to 2002 he witnessed regular maintenance by the town on the road “as part
of their ongoing maintenance efforts on
Because the record supports the district court’s findings that the road had been maintained in the same quality and character as other already existing roads in the town, the district court did not clearly err in finding that the road had been maintained in a manner sufficient to satisfy the maintenance prong of the test under Minn. Stat. § 160.05, subd. 1.
Width of Actual Use of the Road
The size of a road dedicated under
Minn. Stat. § 160.05, subd. 1, is limited to the width of its actual
v. Town Bd. of Hollywood Twp.,
Appellants contend that the district court failed to find that the road was limited to the width of its actual use and therefore the dedication constituted an unlawful taking of appellants’ land.
Although ideally the district court might have determined the exact instead of the approximate width of the road, the district court’s findings are not defective. There were two surveys in evidence, the Magnan survey from 1986 and the Landecker survey obtained by appellants shortly before trial. Both surveys purport to identify the precise location of the road. Furthermore, Magnan testified that the road was distinguishable and measurable and that it had a distinguishable edge. Other witnesses testified that the road was clearly distinguishable, that it passed over a culvert and between two depressions noted on the Landecker survey, that its boundaries were clear enough so that municipal workers knew where to plow, and that the location and size of the road did not change over many years.
Appellants argue that the road was just an extension of one big parking lot and was not discernible as a separate road. However, the evidence is to the contrary. There was a strip of dirt that for many years the public used as a road. The location and width of the road could be determined visually, and the exact measurements are ascertainable through a survey. The court estimated the width of actual use to be 25 feet. Whatever the precise measurement might prove to be, the dedicated road is that strip of dirt noted on the surveys, the edges of which are visually discernible. Thus, there is no question about where the road is and how wide it appears to be; only a precise measurement is absent. That omission is not fatal because the width of actual use can be seen and measured, and it is that observable, measurable strip of land that constitutes the dedicated public road. The court did not err as to its determination of the width of actual use of the road.
Appellants dispute the propriety of
the injunction the district court ordered, claiming that the district court did
not engage in any analysis of the harm caused or the legal remedies
available. An appellate court will not
overturn a district court’s decision to issue an injunction absent a clear
abuse of discretion. Carl Bolander & Sons Co. v. City of
Generally, in a boundary dispute,
the district court’s findings regarding entitlement to injunctive relief will
not be set aside unless clearly erroneous.
LaValle v. Kulkay, 277 N.W.2d
400, 402 (
Ordinarily, a party seeking an
injunction must show that legal remedies are inadequate and that an injunction
is necessary to prevent irreparable harm.
Appellants built their fence and building so as to obstruct a public road. Thus, they are trespassing on a public road; they have no right to do so; and injunctive relief requiring the removal of the trespassing structures is the proper remedy.
Appellants argue that they have invested considerable expense in constructing the fence and building that now obstruct the road. But before they incurred that expense they knew that the town was claiming that the road was public. They built the fence first and then learned of demands by residents that the town take action to abate the obstruction of the road. Knowing that the town claimed the road to be public and that residents objected to the obstruction, they nevertheless erected the building that further obstructed the road. Thus, they incurred the construction expenses at their peril.