Dakota County District Court File Nos. C8009008 & C9009003
Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge; Harten, Judge; and
A responsible governmental unit shall order an environmental-impact statement for an outdoor amphitheater project when the record indicates that the statutory threshold for peak attendance of 20,000 or more is satisfied.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Toussaint, Chief Judge
In these combined appeals, Bloomington and Bloomington Amphitheater Coalition challenge the responsible governmental unit's (Burnsville's) negative declaration on an environmental-impact statement for a proposed outdoor amphitheater under the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act (MEPA).
On appeal from the district court's affirmance of Burnsville's decision and from the entry of summary judgment against Bloomington, Bloomington argues that the record supports both a mandatory and discretionary environmental-impact statement. The appeal also raises the question of whether the courts may consider evidence outside of the agency record in their review of the responsible government unit's decision. Because the record establishes that the threshold for a mandatory environmental-impact statement was met, we reverse and remand.
Developer Rose Wild, LLC proposed the construction of a new outdoor amphitheater in the City of Burnsville, near its northern border with Bloomington and the Minnesota River. The proposed Black Dog Amphitheater would be located in the Minnesota River Valley on part of a 159.9-acre property owned by R.B. McGowan and used as the Freeway Landfill, known as a superfund site.*fn1
Burnsville was designated the responsible governmental unit (RGU) for environmental review of the project under the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act, Minn. Stat. §§ 116D.01-.11 (2002) (MEPA). The City of Bloomington and a neighborhood association, Bloomington Amphitheater Coalition (BAC) (collectively "Bloomington"), petitioned the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board (MEQB) to appoint the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) as the RGU, but the MEQB denied the request.
Burnsville proposed and published an environmental-assessment worksheet (EAW) on the project. On July 20, 2000, after a comment period, the Burnsville City Council held a special meeting to decide whether an environmental-impact statement (EIS) was needed. In its record of decision (ROD) dated the same day, it issued a negative declaration, determining that the Black Dog Amphitheater EAW met the required environmental review, so neither a mandatory nor a discretionary EIS would be needed.
A few weeks later, Bloomington filed a written request with the Metropolitan Council seeking a Metropolitan Significance Review of the proposed amphitheater pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 473.173 (2002). The issue to be reviewed by the council was
whether the amphitheater would have a noise impact on existing and planned land uses in Bloomington. Mediation commenced with representatives of Bloomington, BAC, Citizens Alliance for Responsible Ecology (CARE), Burnsville, and Rose Wild. The ...