This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).




City of Minnetonka,



John Wartman,


Filed February 17, 1998


Crippen, Judge

Hennepin County District Court

File No. 965393

Joe Y. Yang, Corrine H. Thomson, Kennedy & Graven, Chartered, 470 Pillsbury Center, 200 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondent)

Richard J. Schieffer, Johnson & Wood, P.A., Suite 300, 1055 East Wayzata Boulevard, Wayzata, MN 55391 (for appellant)

Considered and decided by Crippen, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and Foley, Judge.[*]



Appellant John Wartman disputes the trial court's summary judgment permanently enjoining him from maintaining a boat dock on his property. We affirm.


In 1990, appellant purchased a lakeshore lot located on a channel that leads into Lake Minnetonka. Appellant tore down an older boat dock and constructed a replacement. There are no other structures on the lot.

In July 1995, the City of Minnetonka informed appellant that he needed to remove his dock because it was not permitted in the zoning district. The city explained that under its ordinance, Minnetonka, Minn., Code of Ordinances § 300.10 (1995), appellant's dock was an accessory use not connected to any permitted use and therefore was prohibited. When appellant failed to remove the dock, the city brought this action for declaratory and injunctive relief. The trial court subsequently granted the city's motion for summary judgment.


On appeal from summary judgment, we must determine whether there are any genuine issues of material fact and whether the trial court erred in its application of the law. State by Cooper v. French, 460 N.W.2d 2, 4 (Minn. 1990); see Admiral Merchants Motor Freight, Inc. v. O'Connor & Hannan, 494 N.W.2d 261, 265 (Minn. 1992).

The interpretation of a zoning ordinance is a legal question for the court. Frank's Nursery Sales, Inc., v. City of Roseville, 295 N.W.2d 604, 608 (Minn. 1980). The city's opinion, although entitled to some consideration, is not controlling. Id. The court should construe an ordinance according to its "plain and ordinary meaning." Id. The court should strictly construe the ordinance against the city and in favor of the landowner. Id.

1. Recreational Use or Structure.

Appellant first contends that the trial court erred in finding that appellant's dock was an accessory use, defined in the ordinance as "recreational facilities and structure." Minnetonka, Minn., Code of Ordinances, § 300.10 subd. 3 (j) (1995). There is no question that a dock is a facility or structure. Nor is there a fact question that this dock is used for recreation.

Appellant contends that the provision is too imprecise to govern a dock, but does not explain what a dock might be, if it is not a recreational structure. Appellant's argument is unpersuasive.

Inconsistencies with other Provisions within the Ordinance.

Appellant next contends that reading the ordinance as a whole would require a narrower interpretation of the recreational use provision because docks are specifically mentioned in three other provisions of the ordinance but not in the R-1 district provisions. Rules of statutory construction also govern the construction of ordinances. County of Wright v. Kennedy, 415 N.W.2d 728, 730 (Minn. App. 1987). When applying a statute, it is improper to resort to statutory construction devices when the meaning of the provision is apparent. See J.C. Penney Co. v. Commissioner of Econ. Sec., 353 N.W.2d 243, 246 (Minn. App. 1984) (explaining that judicial construction is inappropriate where the meaning is unambiguous). We conclude that the zoning provision unambiguously applies to docks, and there is no room for appellant's interpretation of the ordinance.

Conflict with Lake Minnetonka Conservation District.

Appellant also contends that regulatory authority for docks is not granted to the city and rests instead with the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District.

Appellant argues that the city's express authority to regulate docks under Minn. Stat. § 412.221, subd. 12 (1996), is inadequate because docks are not expressly mentioned in the grant of zoning powers contained in another chapter of the statutes. There is neither logic nor authority to minimize the express grant of regulatory authority in chapter 412. Moreover, there is no merit in appellant's contention that docks are not within the subjects covered by the grant of powers to pass zoning laws to promote general welfare.

Appellant contends that the conservation district has exclusive authority to regulate docks on Lake Minnetonka. He argues that maintaining a dock floating on the surface of a lake is no different than dredging a lakebed. See Welsh v. City of Orono, 355 N.W.2d 117, 123 (Minn. 1984) (holding that the state agency has exclusive authority to regulate dredging). But a dock abuts land and is located within a particular city that may regulate it, whereas the dredging of the lakebed affects the entire lake. Appellant further argues, citing Welsh, that municipal authority extends only to regulation of the shoreline of a lake. This contention is also incorrect. Welsh dealt solely with the issue of lakebed dredging and stated only that city dredging authority was limited to control of dredge soil deposits on the shoreland. Id. Finally, the trial court correctly determined that the express statutory authority of the city to regulate docks defeats appellant's proposition that the conservation district has exclusive authority.

Motion to Amend the Pleadings.

The trial court can deny pleading of an additional claim that could not survive a summary judgment motion. See M.H. v. Caritas Family Servs., 488 N.W.2d 282, 290 (Minn. 1992).

Appellant contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion to amend the pleadings to include a takings claim. But the zoning ordinance in this case was enacted in 1986, four years prior to appellant's purchase of the land. Because appellant's predicament is considered "self-imposed," he cannot establish that the government has taken anything away from him through its ordinance. See Hedlund v. City of Maplewood, 366 N.W.2d 624, 627 (Minn. App. 1985). Appellant's takings claims could not survive summary judgment.


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