This opinion will be unpublished and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
Filed December 26, 2006
Charles K. Frundt, Frundt & Johnson, Ltd., 117 West Fifth Street, P.O. Box 95, Blue Earth, MN 56013 (for relator)
Gerald W. Von Korff, Rinke-Noonan, 1015 West
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge; Dietzen, Judge; and Worke, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Renville County Board of Commissioners denied a petition to remove part of the
F A C T S
on those studies a group of landowners submitted a petition, in 1996, under the
provisions of Minn. Stat. § 103E.215 (2004), to improve Ditch No. 66. The proposed improvement increased the ditch’s
drainage capacity and diverted flood water from the City of
The Renville County Board of Commissioners acts as the drainage authority for ditches in the county. In response to the petition for improvement, the county board appointed an engineer, who submitted a report in 1998. After receiving the engineer’s report, the county board adopted a plan that would reroute County Ditch No. 66 to the south of the city. This rerouted section was known as the Renville County Ditch No. 66 Improvement. The county board appointed viewers who determined that the city would receive $1,352,800 in benefits from the Ditch No. 66 Improvement. This amounted to 46.40% of the total benefits.
construction of the Ditch No. 66 Improvement, no water from the City of
In 2005 the city submitted a petition under Minn. Stat. § 103E.805 (2004), claiming that it should be removed from the benefit assessments for Ditch No. 66 Improvement because, with the exception of the 17.8 acres along Highway 212, the city does not drain into Ditch No. 66 or the Ditch No. 66 Improvement.
In response to the city’s petition, the Renville County Board held two public hearings and appointed viewers to determine whether the city continued to be benefited by the Ditch No. 66 Improvement. The viewers concluded that the city “was originally, and still is, benefited by the diversion of water away from the city allowing the city an improved outlet into County Ditch No. 51.” The county board found that the city continued to be benefited by the Ditch No. 66 Improvement and that other landowners would be prejudiced by removing the city from the benefit assessments. The county board therefore denied the city’s petition. The city then filed this certiorari appeal.
D E C I S I O N
by certiorari is limited to an inspection of the record of the administrative
tribunal. Dietz v.
(1) that the waters from the petitioners’ property have been diverted from the drainage system, or that a dam has been lawfully constructed and the property cannot use the drainage system;
(2) that the property is not benefited by the drainage system and does not use or affect the drainage system; and
(3) that removing the property from the drainage system will not prejudice the property owners and property remaining in the system.
Minn. Stat. § 103E.805, subd. 3(b) (2004).
county board found that the City of
can be benefited even if it is not physically connected to a drainage
system. Seidlitz v.
The viewers shall determine the amount of benefits to all property within the watershed, whether the property is benefited immediately by the construction of the proposed drainage project or the proposed drainage project can become an outlet for drainage, makes an outlet more accessible, or otherwise directly benefits the property. The benefits may be based on:
(1) an increase in the current market value of property as a result of constructing the project;
(2) an increase in the potential for agricultural production as a result of constructing the project; or
(3) an increased value of the property as a result of a potential different land use.
Minn. Stat. § 103E.315, subd.
5(a) (2004). Our interpretation of
“benefit” is also guided by section 103E.011, subd. 4 (2004), which gives
drainage authorities the power to control flood waters.
Relying on the authority of these two statutes we conclude, for three reasons, that the county board acted within its administrative power and did not err as a matter of law by determining that the diversion of flood waters is a “benefit” under chapter 103E. First, the diversion prevents flooding and thus beneficially increases the value of property within the city. Second, because the drainage authority has the power and the corresponding responsibility to control flood waters, the term “benefit” should be interpreted in a way that permits the drainage authority to exercise its power and fulfill its responsibility. Third, the diversion of flood water is within the plain meaning of the term “benefit.” Therefore, because the Ditch No. 66 Improvement prevents flooding, the drainage system provides a benefit to the city.
The city does not directly dispute that the diversion of flood waters is a “benefit” under chapter 103E. Instead, the city attempts to distinguish between benefits from the construction of the improvement and benefits from repairs and maintenance. The city argues that, although the city benefited from the initial construction, it will not derive any benefits from ongoing maintenance to the Ditch No. 66 Improvement. The city argues that the water will continue to be diverted even if the maintenance is not done.
Minnesota Supreme Court considered a similar argument in the case of Braun v.
city acknowledges the Braun decision
but attempts to distinguish it by arguing that it does not receive any benefit from the Ditch No. 66
Improvement. Because flood-water
diversion constitutes a benefit, the city’s argument fails. For new drainage systems and improvements,
landowners can only be assessed if they are benefited. Seidlitz,
The Renville County Board acted within its administrative authority and did not err as a matter of law by finding that the city continues to be benefited by the Ditch No. 66 Improvement. We therefore affirm its denial of the petition to remove the city from the drainage system.
Because we sustain the county board’s
decision on the basis of the provision of a benefit, we do not reach the final
prong of whether removing the property from the drainage system would prejudice
the property owners and property remaining in the system. For the same reason we do not address the county’s
argument that the city’s petition is an improper collateral attack on the 1998
determination of benefits. Finally, we
note that the City of
recognize that the city may for the foreseeable future be required to pay for
repairs which provide limited incremental benefit. The county contends, however that a change in
the relative hydrological benefits or relative land values can be asserted
through a request for a redetermination of benefits.