Hennepin County District Court File No. AP 03-869
Considered and decided by Hudson, Presiding Judge; Peterson, Judge; and
I. A zoning application is not approved or denied for purposes of Minn. Stat. § 15.99 (2002) until the city has decided all appeals challenging the approval of the zoning application.
II. Where a zoning application is automatically approved by operation of Minn. Stat. § 15.99 (2002), the agency's approval of the application is, by definition, not arbitrary, capricious or an error of law.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hudson, Judge
In 2002, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) applied for an amendment to its 1973 planned unit development (PUD) in order to add a new wing. The Minneapolis City Planning Commission (planning commission) approved the MIA's application and the MIA's neighbors (Smith and Moreno) appealed this decision to the Minneapolis City Council. The city council heard and denied the appeal, approving the MIA's application subject to conditions recommended by the city-planning department. The neighbors appealed this decision to the district court seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. Although not named in the original complaint, the MIA intervened and argued, by way of cross-claim against the city and counterclaim against Smith and Moreno, that its zoning application was automatically approved by operation of Minn. Stat. § 15.99 (2002). In conjunction with the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court found that the MIA's application was not automatically approved by operation of Minn. Stat. § 15.99. But the district court affirmed, on the merits, the city's approval of the MIA's application. On appeal to this court, Smith and Moreno argue that the city erred by approving the MIA's application because the application was defective and violated Minneapolis zoning ordinances. On appeal and by notice of review, the MIA challenges the district court's denial of its cross-claim against the city, arguing that its application was automatically approved by operation of Minn. Stat. § 15.99, and therefore Smith and Moreno are precluded from challenging the city's action. We affirm as modified.
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) is a museum operated for the benefit of the general public. The original building was completed in 1915 and expanded in 1974. The building is located in Dorilus Morrison Park (the park), which was deeded to the Minneapolis Park Board in 1911. The deed had restrictions giving the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts, the predecessor to the MIA, exclusive rights "to occupy, use, manage, and control every building erected upon said premises, whether for the purposes of a public museum, or a public gallery of art, or for a school of arts and crafts, for an auditorium, or for any cognate purpose...." Other buildings located within the park are the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) and the Children's Theatre Company (CTC). The MCAD and the CTC hold leases from the MIA for the buildings that they occupy within the park. The leases contain provisions giving the MIA control of the leased premises.
The 1974 expansion of the MIA was authorized by a conditional use permit (CUP) for a planned unit development (PUD) that the city approved on February 23, 1973. At the time of the 1973 PUD, the entire PUD area was controlled by the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts, which was comprised of the MIA, the MCAD, and the CTC. The institutions separated in 1988, and since that time the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts has consisted solely of the MIA. Because the original museum expansion had been approved as a CUP for a PUD, the city determined that the MIA's proposed new wing would require approval of an amendment to the 1973 PUD.
Minn. Stat. § 15.99 (2002) requires that zoning applications be approved or denied within 60 days, or if the deadline is properly extended by the agency, within 120 days. If an application is not denied within that time frame, it is deemed approved. The MIA submitted an application for amendment of the 1973 CUP for a PUD to add the new wing. The city considered the application complete on July 23, 2002, with a 60-day deadline of September 23, 2002.*fn1 The MCAD and the CTC consented to and supported the MIA's application for the PUD amendment.
The Minneapolis City Planning Department reviewed the MIA's application and prepared a report recommending approval of the amendment to the PUD. At a September 9, 2002, public hearing, the planning commission approved the MIA's application subject to the conditions recommended by the planning department.
Decisions of the planning commission are final, subject to appeal to the Minneapolis City Council and subsequent judicial review. Minneapolis city ordinances give affected parties an opportunity to appeal the planning commission's decision to ...