This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).








Shannon Joseph Hinnenkamp,





Benton County Planning Commission,




Filed August 29, 2006


Parker, Judge*


Benton County Planning Commission

File No. 05-406



John A. Stielow, Stielow Law Offices, PLLC, P.O. Box 7063, St. Cloud, MN 56302-7063 (for relator)


Robert J. Raupp, Benton County Attorney, Benton County Courts Facility, P.O. Box 189, Foley, MN 56329 (for respondent)



            Considered and decided by Minge, Presiding Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; and Parker, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Relator Shannon Joseph Hinnenkamp appeals from respondent Benton County Planning Commission’s denial of his application for a conditional-use permit (CUP).  We affirm.


            The property in question is in an area zoned R-2 residential, in which the permitted residential use is “single-family detached dwellings.”  Benton County, Minn., Dev. Code §§ 7.3.1, .4.1 (2004).  In October 2003, the code was amended to allow quad residential units as a conditional use.  See id. § 7.4.2 (2004) (allowing, as conditional uses, “triplex and quad residential housing units on properties served by a public, community or central sewage treatment system”). 

Relator obtained a land-use permit allowing him to move a “double wide” manufactured home to the property and later obtained a permit authorizing the construction of a garage near the home.  Relator later built a concrete structure and placed the double-wide home on top, creating a two-story building, along with an attached garage.  The structure on the property had been converted into a quad prior to the October 2003 amendment to the code. 

In January 2004, relator applied for an “after-the-fact [CUP] to operate a quad residential housing unit” on the property; the county denied that application.  In July 2004, relator reapplied for a CUP to operate a quad rental unit.  The county again denied the CUP request.  Relator initiated a certiorari appeal, and in July 2005, this court affirmed the county’s denial of the CUP because the record supported the county’s decision and because relator had not met his burden of showing that his proposed use conformed with the requirements for a CUP.  Hinnenkamp v. Benton County Planning Comm’n, No. A04-2032, 2005 WL 1620312, at *5 (Minn. App. July 12, 2005).  This court also held that relator’s due-process rights had not been violated.  Id. at *6.

On August 4, 2005, relator again applied for a CUP.  His application was nearly identical with his prior application, except the newest application contained a landscaping plan showing proposed deciduous trees and shrubs screening for the front of the property. 

Decisions of a county to grant or deny a CUP are quasi-judicial in nature and reviewable by writ of certiorari.  Interstate Power Co. v. Nobles County Bd. of Comm’rs, 617 N.W.2d 566, 574 (Minn. 2000).  We review quasi-judicial zoning decisions to determine whether the municipality’s actions were arbitrary and capricious.  VanLandschoot v. City of Mendota Heights, 336 N.W.2d 503, 508 (Minn. 1983).  Our review of the county’s decision is “deferential . . . as counties have wide latitude in making decisions about [conditional] use permits.”  Schwardt v. County of Watonwan, 656 N.W.2d 383, 386 (Minn. 2003).  A county’s land-use decision will not be overturned “unless it has no rational basis.”  Molnar v. County of Carver Bd. of Comm’rs, 568 N.W.2d 177, 181 (Minn. App. 1997).

A county’s denial of a CUP is arbitrary when the applicant establishes that all of the standards specified by the zoning ordinance as conditions of granting the permit have been met.  Zylka v. City of Crystal, 283 Minn. 192, 196, 167 N.W.2d 45, 49 (1969).  If the proposed use is expressly authorized by the ordinance, the county may only deny the CUP “for reasons relating to public health, safety, and general welfare.”  C.R. Invs., Inc. v. Vill. of Shoreview, 304 N.W.2d 320, 324 (Minn. 1981).  But “denial of a land use request is not arbitrary when at least one of the reasons given . . . satisfies the rational basis test.”  Trisko v. City of Waite Park, 566 N.W.2d 349, 352 (Minn. App. 1997) (emphasis added), review denied (Minn. Sept. 25, 1997).  When the factual basis for the denial has even “the slightest validity,” we must defer to the municipality’s decision.  White Bear Docking & Storage, Inc. v. City of White Bear Lake, 324 N.W.2d 174, 176 (Minn. 1982).  The burden is on the applicant to persuade the appellate court that the municipality’s reasons for denying the CUP are without factual support in the record or legally insufficient.  Hubbard Broad., Inc. v. City of Afton, 323 N.W.2d 757, 763 (Minn. 1982).    

Whether a decision regarding a CUP is reasonable is measured by assessing whether the standards stated in the ordinance have been met.  See White Bear Docking & Storage, 324 N.W.2d at 176 (stating that “‘reasonableness’ is measured by the standards set out in the local ordinance”).  Here, the code provides:

In granting a [CUP], the [county] shall consider the effect of the proposed use upon the health, safety, morals, and general welfare of occupants of surrounding lands and water bodies.  Among other things, the [county] shall make the following findings where applicable:


(1)      Will the use create an excessive burden on existing parks, schools, streets and other public facilities and utilities which serve or are proposed to serve the area?


(2)      Is the use sufficiently compatible or separated by distance or screening from adjacent agricultural or residentially zoned or used land so that existing homes will not be depreciated in value and there will be no deterrence to development of vacant land?


(3)      Does the structure and site have an appearance that will not have an adverse effect upon adjacent properties?


(4)      Is the use, in the opinion of the [county], reasonably related to the existing land use?


(5)      Is the use consistent with the purposes of the [code] and the purposes of the zoning district in which the applicant intends to locate the proposed use?


(6)      Is the use in conflict with the Land Use Plan of the county?


(7)      Will the use cause traffic hazards or congestion?


(8)      Will the use violate the wetland provisions of Minnesota Statutes Chapter 103G?


Benton County, Minn., Dev. Code § 11.6 (2004). 

            After listening to relator’s presentation on the application and noting three letters in opposition to the CUP, the county considered the evidence and denied the CUP.  

            Relator argues that the county’s findings are inadequate, contrary to the evidence, and that they lack “supporting explanation.”  Findings supporting the denial of a CUP application must be “recorded or reduced to writing and in more than just a conclusory fashion.”  Honn v. City of Coon Rapids, 313 N.W.2d 409, 416 (Minn. 1981). 

As this court noted in relator’s first appeal, the standard of review is determinative.  We must defer to the county’s decision to deny a CUP when that decision has even “the slightest validity.”  White Bear Docking & Storage, 324 N.W.2d at 176.  The Minnesota Supreme Court has repeatedly stated:

[W]ith respect to the decisions of municipal and other governmental bodies having the duty of making decisions involving judgment and discretion that it is not the province of the court to substitute its judgment for that of the body making such a decision, but merely to determine whether that body was within its jurisdiction, was not mistaken as to the applicable law, and did not act arbitrarily, oppressively, or unreasonably, and to determine whether the evidence could reasonably support or justify the determination.


Buss v. Johnson, 624 N.W.2d 781, 785 (Minn. App. 2001) (alteration in original) (quoting Vill. of Edina v. Joseph, 264 Minn. 84, 93, 119 N.W.2d 809, 815 (1962)).  Our standard of review does not permit us to substitute our judgment for that of the county, and we conclude that the county had a sufficient factual basis to deny the CUP.  We note particularly the county’s determinations that the proposed use would create an excessive burden and would create traffic hazards and congestion on a township road, and the county’s concerns regarding the appearance of the property and its lack of sufficient screening. 

            At the meeting, the county discussed with concern the number of people who would be living in relator’s four-plex; relator vowed that he would never allow more than two people to live in each unit, but the county noted that relator could sell the property, and the difficulty in that there was no guarantee that traffic problems would not exist in the future.  As one board member noted, “We go to a new owner, this whole thing can all change.”  Another said, “Once it’s a fourplex, it’s a fourplex.”  Furthermore, the county noted that the evidence, including the letters of opposition, demonstrated “sufficient concern” regarding the impact on the local area. 

            But it is clear from the record that the appearance and the lack of satisfactory screening of the property are the main shortcomings here.  For example, the county discussed the screening plan at length during the September 1, 2005 meeting, and expressed displeasure with the fact that the plan contained only deciduous trees and bushes that would be defoliated during much of the year.  Furthermore, relator stated that it would be several years before the landscaping would provide its screening effect; that it would take as long as four to five years for the plants to reach their peak height. 

            There is ample evidence supporting the commission’s determinations on these points, and the commission has pointed out with specificity what should be done to ameliorate their concerns.  Because “at least one” of the county’s proffered reasons for its denial of relator’s application satisfies the rational-basis test, the denial of the CUP was not arbitrary or capricious.  Trisko, 566 N.W.2d at 352.

            Relator also contends that the county’s denial of his CUP application violated his rights to due process and equal protection under the Minnesota and United States Constitutions.  In support of this argument, relator asserts that he was treated “very differently from other applicants” and compares his denial to the process the county used when placing numerous conditions on a gravel pit, presumably in granting a different CUP.  Unfortunately, relator fails to present any meaningful facts or legal analysis in support of his arguments.  On the facts and information in the record, there is simply no basis for this court to decide the issue.  It is relator’s burden to provide the court with an adequate record.  Mesenbourg v. Mesenbourg, 538 N.W.2d 489, 494 (Minn. App. 1995).  Further, this court may decline to address allegations unsupported by adequate legal citation or analysis.  Ganguli v. Univ. of Minn., 512 N.W.2d 918, 919 n.1 (Minn. App. 1994).  Because relator has not provided the court with a sufficient record or legal citation in support of his claim, we decline to reach the question of whether relator was denied his rights to due process and equal protection.


* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.