Sherburne County District Court File No. C6021908
Considered and decided by Hudson, Presiding Judge, Willis, Judge, and
When a zoning applicant amends its request to rezone property, the 60-day period set out in Minn. Stat. § 15.99 (2002) runs from the date of the written amendment, not from the date of the original application.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Forsberg, Judge*fn1
Appellant Tollefson Development, Inc. brought this action seeking mandamus, damages, and declaratory relief against respondent City of Elk River after the city denied its application for rezoning and a preliminary plat. The district court granted summary judgment to the city and rejected Tollefson's claim that its rezoning application was automatically approved because it was not granted or denied within 60 days as required by Minn. Stat. § 15.99 (2002).
On appeal, this court allowed the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) to file an amicus brief in support of the city's position that Tollefson is not entitled to automatic approval, either because it amended its application or because it requested a continuance. Because the 60-day period runs from the date of a written application related to zoning, it must be construed in this case to run from the date of a letter from Tollefson to the city in which Tollefson confirmed that it was amending its initial application. We therefore affirm the grant of summary judgment to the city.
In October 2001, Tollefson entered into an agreement with Gerald and Mary Becker to purchase 103 acres of farmland located in the city. The land was zoned single-family residential, but Tollefson intended to build a mixed development on the land consisting of 283 single-family and townhouse units. The purchase agreement required Tollefson to obtain city approvals for the development before closing.
Accordingly, on April 30, 2002, Tollefson submitted a written application to the city for rezoning and preliminary plat approval of the development, called Twin Lakes Crossing. The application requested that the city rezone the property from its existing "R1" type, single-family residential designation, to Planned Unit Development (PUD) designation.
On May 8, 2002, Tollefson vice president Timothy Bohlman met with city senior planner Scott Harlicker to discuss the application. Harlicker encouraged Bohlman to amend the application to request rezoning to "R3," a newly created townhouse zoning designation, rather than PUD. Tollefson agreed and sent a letter to the city, dated May 15, stating: "This letter is to confirm our request to amend our application for rezoning on the property referred to as Twin Lakes Crossing from PUD to R-3, as we discussed when we met last week."
The rezoning was scheduled to be heard at the city council's June 17, 2002 meeting. Prior to the meeting, Harlicker and Bohlman spoke by telephone. According to Bohlman's notes of the conversation, he told Harlicker that revisions to the plat were not yet completed, but requested that the rezoning request be considered "tonight to get that out of the way." Harlicker indicated that the city council "would be reluctant to approve rezoning on a parcel for which they are not looking at the plat at the same time." Harlicker recommended moving both the rezoning and preliminary plat applications to the council's August meeting. Bohlman objected and explained to Harlicker that this type of delay might jeopardize the project. Harlicker told Bohlman: "I'll see what I can do. Fax me a short letter with your request." Bohlman's letter, dated June 17, states:
As we are in the process of finishing up the revisions to our plans for Twin Lakes Crossing, please continue consideration of our pending requests for rezoning and preliminary plat approval to the ...