This opinion will be unpublished and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
Lake Darling Area Association, Inc.,
Mary Lou Unger Irrevocable Trust
u/d/t December 19, 2001,
Filed October 3, 2006
Douglas County Board of Commissioners
James P. Peters, Karna M. Peters, Peters & Peters, PLC, 507 N. Nokomis Street, #100, Alexandria, MN 56308 (for relator)
Scott T. Anderson, Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A., 300 U.S. Trust Building, 730 Second Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondents Board of Commissioners)
Thomas P. Klecker, Thornton, Hegg, Reif, Dolan & Brown, P.A., 1017 Broadway, P.O. Box 819, Alexandria, MN 56308 (for Unger Irrevocable Trust)
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Parker, Judge.*
Relator Lake Darling Area Association, Inc. challenges the decision by respondent Douglas County Board of Commissioners approving the final plat of West Darling Acres, First Addition. Respondent Mary Lou Unger Irrevocable Trust submitted the plat application and the county board approved it as a “minor subdivision.” Relator argues that the county board’s decision was arbitrary because the plat application failed to meet the minimum requirements for approval as a minor subdivision, particularly the requirement that the application include no granting of private easements and not be located in a “sensitive area” as defined by county maps.
Respondents, the county board and the trust, both argue that the plat application was properly approved because the final plat did not include any private easements and because the subdivision is not located in a sensitive area. The county also argues that this court lacks jurisdiction over the certiorari appeal because relator failed to first bring his claim to the county board of adjustment.
Because county ordinances define a minor subdivision as available only when an applicant seeks to split a “maximum of five (5) lots” into “four or fewer lots” and because the subdivision here essentially resulted in five new lots with the addition of part of an outlot, we conclude that the county board acted arbitrarily and outside its authority in approving this plat as a minor subdivision. We therefore reverse.
In June 2005, the trust submitted an application to the
county board for preliminary plat approval of West Darling Acres, First
Addition. The property was platted in
1979 as West Darling Acres, Lots 1-4; Lot 2 was the largest lot and the only
lot to include shoreline on
A review team held a meeting regarding the project on June 20, 2005. In a post-meeting memo, the Interim Director of the Land and Resource Management Office delineated a number of concerns raised during the meeting, including the proposed common mooring site and easements for access to the site, the fact that “[t]his is a sensitive bay,” and the existence of a “spawning area where the docks are being proposed.”
To meet the concerns raised at the review team meeting, the trust redrew the property lines and eliminated the easement and common mooring site. On November 22, 2005, the county board approved the final plat.
Relator, which describes itself as a “lake association duly organized and existing for the benefit of advancing and promoting the interests of property owners on Lake Darling,” brings this certiorari appeal to challenge the county board’s decision to approve the plat as a minor subdivision.
D E C I S I O N
county board asserts that this court lacks jurisdiction because relator should
have appealed its decision to the board of adjustment under Minn. Stat. §
394.27, subd. 5 (2004). By ordinance,
however, only an “applicant for subdivision approval may appeal the decisions
made by the County staff by filing a Notice of Appeal with the Board of
Adjustment, no later than thirty (30) days after the time the administrative determination
right to appeal exists, a party need not appeal to the board of adjustment and
may appeal by certiorari to this court. See Molnar v.
“On writ of certiorari, our review is limited to determining whether a county board of commissioners had jurisdiction; whether its proceedings were fair and regular; and whether its decision was unreasonable, without evidentiary support, or based on an incorrect theory of law.” PTL, 656 N.W.2d at 571. Relator argues that the county board’s decision is arbitrary because the final plat fails to meet the minimum requirements for approval as a minor subdivision. We agree, but for reasons different than those cited by relator.
The original plat of West Darling Acres consisted of four lots, with Lot 2 being the largest in area and the only lot that had shoreline on Lake Darling. The final plat of West Darling Acres, First Addition, divides the original Lot 2 and adds portions of that lot to newly drawn Lots 1 through 4, so that each lot’s property lines extend to Lake Darling. The final plat of West Darling Acres, First Addition includes four lots, leaving a portion of the original Lot 2 and the original Lot 1 to remain in West Darling Acres.
County ordinances define “minor subdivision” as “[a]ny subdivision where a platted recorded lot is being split into a maximum of five (5) lots, or a maximum of five (5) lots are being combined into four or fewer lots.” Subdivision Controls Ordinance § 2.2 (2006). The minor subdivision procedure is intended to allow expeditious review by staff when a single lot is being split into less than five lots or when a small number of lots (five or fewer) are being combined into four or fewer lots. Because the final plat approved here essentially resulted in four new lots in West Darling Acres, First Addition, and left one or two lots remaining in the original West Darling Acres, the subdivision involved more than four lots and does not qualify as a minor subdivision.
In addition, the original plat of West Darling Acres does not include any portion of the adjacent outlot. The final plat of West Darling Acres, First Addition, however, adds a triangular-shaped area from the outlot to the southernmost portion of the newly created Lot 4. The ordinances include a definition of “outlot” and state that “[o]utlots may only be subdivided through the major subdivision procedure.” Subdivision Controls Ordinance § 2.2. Thus, the addition of a piece of property from an outlot also requires that this project be subdivided as a major subdivision.
Because the final plat of West Darling Acres, First Addition, fails to meet the definition of a minor subdivision, we conclude that the county board acted arbitrarily and outside its authority in approving the final plat. We therefore reverse.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.