This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Paul J. Heimer, et al.,
Filed July 17, 2007
Mower County District Court
File No. 50-CV-06-220
Nelsen, Mower County Attorney,
Gittus, Gittus Law Office,
Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge; Ross, Judge; and Harten, Judge.*
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
In this appeal from an order granting respondent Mower County title and possession of property under the “quick-take” condemnation statute, Minn. Stat. § 117.042 (2006), appellant-landowners argue that taking their land to construct a bicycle trail is unconstitutional because a bicycle trail is not a public purpose and the bicycle trail can be constructed on an existing highway right of way without taking their land. We affirm.
February 17, 2006,
D E C I S I O N
property cannot be taken for public use without just compensation. U.S. Const. amend. V;
Before condemning private land, a condemning authority . . . must determine that there is a public use for the land and that the taking is reasonably necessary or convenient for the furtherance of that public use. Although we have said that questions of public use and necessity are judicial questions, the scope of judicial review of the condemning authority’s determination of these questions is actually narrower than that characterization might imply. This is because the determinations of the condemning authority are regarded as legislative decisions which will be overturned only when they are manifestly arbitrary or unreasonable. Thus, there are two levels of deference paid to condemnation decisions: the district court gives deference to the legislative determination of public purpose and necessity of the condemning authority and the appellate courts give deference to the findings of the district court, using the clearly erroneous standard.
Lundell v. Coop.
Power Ass’n, 707 N.W.2d 376, 380-81 (
the condemnation is for a public purpose and necessary are fact questions,
which we will reverse only if the district court’s findings are clearly
If it appears that the record contains some evidence, however informal, that the taking serves a public purpose, there is nothing left for the courts to pass upon. . . . The court is precluded from substituting its own judgment for that of the Authority as to what may be necessary and proper to carry out the purpose of the plan.
proposed taking need not be absolutely necessary, but need only be “reasonably
necessary or convenient for the furtherance of a proper purpose.”
Appellants argue that because a bicycle trail is solely recreational in nature, a bicycle trail is not a public purpose. But appellants cite no authority for their implied assertion that a recreational purpose is not a public purpose. To support its finding that a bicycle trail is a public purpose, the district court cited Minn. Stat. § 174.01, subd. 2(14) (2006), which states that a goal of the state transportation system is “to promote and increase bicycling as an energy-efficient, nonpolluting, and healthful transportation alternative,” and Minn. Stat. § 160.265 (2006), subdivision 1 of which directs the commissioner of transportation to establish a program to establish, develop, maintain, and operate a system of bikeways. The district court’s finding is also supported by the resolution adopted by the Mower County board, which states that “[a]lternative transportation trails are a recognized means of multi-modal transportation” and that it is in the best interest of the county that the development and construction of the Shooting Star Alternative Transportation Trail between Taopi and Adams be completed during 2006 to avoid termination of a federal grant for developing the trail. The district court’s finding that a bicycle trail should be deemed a public purpose is not clearly erroneous.
also argue that taking their land is not necessary because the bicycle trail
can be constructed on an existing highway right of way without condemning
private land. Appellants contend that
because the trail can be built on an existing right of way, the county’s
condemnation decision is arbitrary. But
merely suggesting a possible alternative to
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
 In a previous order, this court dismissed the part of this appeal that challenged the district court’s determination that respondent has authority to condemn appellants’ land and ordered that the balance of the appeal from the order determining the public purpose and necessity for the taking shall proceed.