This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In re Appeal of David Berndt, Richard Berndt, Lois Berndt,
Dale Berndt, and Carol Berndt from the September 19, 2002 Decision of the
Board of Adjustment of the County of Crow Wing, State of Minnesota,
Affirming that Decision of the Planning and Zoning Administrator
to issue Permits 228279 and 228280 to
Michael D. Spotts and Allyson Spotts, David Berndt, et al.,
County of Crow Wing, State of Minnesota,
Michael D. Spotts, et al.,
Filed April 25, 2006
Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded
Crow Wing County District Court
File No. C5-02-2688
John H. Erickson, Erickson, Pearson & Aanes, 319 South Sixth Street, P.O. Box 525, Brainerd, MN 56401 (for respondents)
Stephen G. Andersen, Isaac Kaufman, Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A., 300 U.S. Trust Building, 730 Second Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for appellant Crow Wing County)
Gerald W. Von Korff, John C. Kolb, Rinke-Noonan, P.O. Box 1497, St. Cloud, MN 56302-1497 (for appellants Michael D. Spotts, et al.)
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Halbrooks, Judge
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
In this dispute involving the development of lakefront property, appellants Crow Wing County and Michael and Allyson Spotts challenge a district court order that reversed the county board of adjustment’s decision to affirm the issuance of a permit to build a cabin with a deck and install a new septic system. By notice of review, respondents argue that the district court erred in determining that it did not have jurisdiction to consider the wetland fill permit and that the permit violated the county’s zoning ordinance. We reverse the district court’s reversal of the issuance of the permit for the dwelling and septic system and affirm the court’s refusal to consider the wetland fill permit.
D E C I S I O N
Appellants argue that the district court erred in reversing the issuance of a permit for the dwelling and septic system construction because (1) construction was completed while the district court matters were pending, and therefore, the district court’s decision is moot; and (2) the county board of adjustment’s (BOA) decision was reasonable and supported by the record. We agree.
When an event occurs
that makes a decision on the merits unnecessary or an award of effective relief
impossible, courts may dismiss the appeal as moot. In re
Application of Minnegasco, 565 N.W.2d 706, 710 (
appellants Michael and Allyson Spotts (the Spottses) proceeded to build a cabin
and install a septic system on their property soon after appellant
importantly, even if the issue is not moot, based on the merits of appellants’ argument,
we conclude that the BOA’s decision to uphold appellant’s permit was
reasonable. This court reviews actions
by a zoning authority independent of the findings and conclusions of the
district court. Town of
cases where the interpretation of an ordinance is at issue, we look to the
ordinance itself to determine whether a governmental entity’s decision was
unreasonable or arbitrary and capricious.
White Bear Docking & Storage,
Inc. v. City of
the county has adopted zoning ordinance provisions that regulate septic systems
and incorporate the standards articulated in Chapter 7080 of the Minnesota
county has also adopted zoning ordinance provisions that regulate building
Here, the BOA upheld the Spottses’ permit to construct a dwelling and deck and to install a septic system. Respondents argue that the BOA’s decision was unreasonable because the Spottses’ permit application did not properly identify the dwelling’s and the septic system’s setbacks from the OHWL. We disagree and conclude that on this record the BOA reasonably determined that the permit application complied with the zoning ordinance.
the Spottses’ permit application included a sketch of the proposed construction
that indicates that the septic system would be set back at least 125 feet from
the lake shoreline, and the cabin would be set back more than 75 feet from the
shoreline. The county ordinance only
requires that unsewered structures be set back 75 feet from the OHWL and that
sewered system structures and sewage treatment structures be set back 50 feet
from the OHWL.
and most importantly, no evidence was presented to the BOA or to this court that
the dwelling and septic system, as constructed, violate the setback
requirements. Rather, the evidence
indicates that the
Based on this record, we conclude that the BOA reasonably determined that the permit met the zoning ordinance requirements; therefore, the BOA’s decision to uphold the dwelling and septic system permit was reasonable. Thus, we reverse the district court’s decision reversing the BOA’s issuance of the dwelling and septic system permit and remand for entry of judgment affirming the BOA’s issuance of the permit.
Respondents argue that the district court erred in determining that it did not have jurisdiction to consider the wetland fill permit appeal and that the permit violated the county’s zoning ordinance.
a district court has subject matter jurisdiction is a question of law, which
this court reviews de novo. Carlson v. Chermak, 639 N.W.2d 886, 889
the county zoning and planning office issued the Spottses a permit to fill 400
square feet of wetland. Both the Wetland
Conservation Act (WCA) and the county’s zoning ordinance regulate the fill of
wetlands, but they provide different appeal procedures. Compare
Minn. Stat. §§ 103G.222, subd. 1(a), 103G.2241, 103G.2242, subds. 4, 9(a)
Here, respondents appealed the issuance of the Spottses’ permit to the BOA and then the district court. But the district court refused to decide the appeal because it determined that the WCA controls, and that it consequently did not have jurisdiction. We agree.
the WCA and its administrative rules authorize local government units to enact
regulations that are more protective than the WCA, the WCA does not state that
it also authorizes counties to create a separate review process for wetland
fill determinations. See
addition, even if the district court erred in not reviewing the permit, our
standard of review requires that we review the BOA’s actions independent of the
findings and conclusions of the district court.
See Town of
this record, we conclude that the BOA’s decision to uphold the wetland fill
permit was reasonable. First, the WCA
allows up to 400 square feet of fill in wetlands. Minn. Stat. §§ 103G.222, subd. 1(a),
addition, the county’s zoning ordinance also allows up to 400 square feet of
fill, one time cumulative, in certain wetland areas.
Because we give considerable deference to an agency’s interpretation of its own regulation, we cannot conclude that the BOA’s decision to approve the wetland fill permit was not reasonable. See St. Otto’s Home, 437 N.W.2d at 40.
Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.