Minn. Stat. §480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Anoka County, Minnesota,
Richard J. Schreier, et al.,
Anoka County District Court
File No. CO-97-4215
Seldon H. Caswell, Caswell & Associates, P.A., 6070 Fiftieth Street North, Oakdale, MN 55128 (for appellants)
Barry A. Sullivan, William G. Hawkins and Associates, 2140 Fourth Avenue North, Anoka, MN 55303 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Foley, Judge,**
Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. Art. VI, § 10. and Forsberg, Judge.*
This is an appeal from the district court's determination that the respondent City of Lino Lakes (the city) had a public purpose and necessity for initiating eminent domain proceedings. We affirm.
Due to substantial recent and projected future growth in the city, and a corresponding desire to control the resulting traffic, the city is constructing a "new" Otter Lake Road that will intersect with Main Street at a location further to the east of the I-35E north-bound exit ramp. The location where old Otter Lake Road currently meets Main Street would be closed. About 300 or 400 feet south of and parallel to Main Street, the city is constructing a road that will connect the northern end of old Otter Lake Road to the new Otter Lake Road. This connector road is referred to as alignment "A," or the "Otter Lake Service Road Street." Alignment "A" will include sewer and water utilities. Under the reconstruction plans, there will be no future access to Main Street between I-35E and the newly aligned Otter Lake Road.
Appellants Richard J. and Patricia N. Schreier own 30 acres located between the old and the new Otter Lake Roads, and to the south of Main Street. The city condemned a portion of the Schreiers' land to build alignment A. The Schreiers challenge the public purpose and necessity of the acquisition. They also claim that they should be compensated for being denied direct access rights to Main Street. The district court granted the city's condemnation petition.
1. The city council approved eminent domain proceedings in this case to improve public safety. The record states that due to growth, the city is attempting to realign its roads to provide for fewer intersections near Interstate 35E's north-bound off-ramp. The city, as early as 1990, decided to move Otter Lake Road further to the east to decongest the I-35E - Main Street intersection and to improve sight distances for traffic on main street. Accordingly, New Otter Lake Road is located approximately 800-900 feet to the east of the I-35E - Main Street intersection and the old Otter Lake Road connection with Main Street will be or is already abandoned. Alignment A is a road that connects the end of old Otter Lake Road to the new Otter Lake Road. It runs parallel to Main Street and will serve as a type of frontage road to Main Street, thereby furthering the city's goal of limiting access to Main Street. The record establishes that the city's actions are based in engineering, land use, and demographic studies. Because the condemnation serves a public purpose, we affirm.
2. A reviewing court must also address whether the condemning authority can prove that the taking was necessary. City of Shakopee v. Minnesota Valley Elec. Co-op., 303 N.W.2d 58, 62 (Minn. 1981); Minn. Stat. § 117.075 (1996). Necessity is a judicial question. Shakopee, 303 N.W.2d at 62. The condemning authority "satisfies its burden of proof when it shows a proposed taking is `reasonably necessary or convenient for the furtherance of the end in view.'" Id. (quoting Blue Earth County v. Stauffenburg, 264 N.W.2d 647, 650 (Minn. 1978)).
As noted above, the record contains sufficient evidence that growth is occurring in the city and that traffic safety will be enhanced by the city's realignment project. Further, the construction of alignment A serves to keep Main Street free from numerous driveways between the interstate and the new Otter Lake Road. Additionally, the city provided expert testimony that it would be unsafe to allow the old Otter Lake Road to end in a cul-de-sac; accordingly, alignment A was necessary to connect old Otter Lake Road to new Otter Lake Road. Because the city has shown that alignment A is necessary, we affirm the district court as to its finding of necessity.
The Schreiers also ask this court to address whether they have suffered a taking as to their ability to directly access Main Street. This issue is premature and was never properly before the district court. The Schreiers' argument as to assessments are also premature because this appeal addresses only public purpose and necessity of the eminent domain proceedings.