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Metropolitan Airports Commissions v. Bearman

July 3, 2006

METROPOLITAN AIRPORTS COMMISSIONS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WILLIAM J. BEARMAN, ET AL., APPELLANTS,
FARM CREDIT SERVICES OF ST. CLOUD, ET AL., DEFENDANTS,
CITY OF EDEN PRAIRIE, RESPONDENT.



Hennepin County District Court File No. CD 000002625.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

In order to levy a special assessment, a city must follow the procedure outlined in Minn. Stat. § 429.061 (2004), and absent a resolution adopting the special assessment, there is no valid lien against the property.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Halbrooks, Judge

Reversed

Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; and Minge, Judge.

OPINION

Appellants challenge the district court's order awarding respondent the remaining funds from an eminent-domain proceeding. Appellants allege, among other things, that they are entitled to the funds because respondent never enacted a resolution levying the special assessment that the parties agreed to. Because the city council failed to adopt a resolution levying the special assessment, there is no valid lien against appellants' property, and they are entitled to the remaining funds. We therefore reverse.

FACTS

In 1999, appellants William and Claudia Bearman were notified by an agent of the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) that MAC intended to take appellants' property by eminent domain. Appellants, at the time, ran an equine-stabling business. After learning of the possible taking, appellants phased out their equine business and took steps to develop their property as a residential subdivision.

Appellants claim that between 1999 and 2001, they were sporadically informed that the taking might not occur. In February 2001, MAC filed its eminent-domain petition in the district court. The district court approved the petition in May and appointed a commission to determine compensation.

In the interim, in order to proceed with their residential subdivision, appellants negotiated with respondent city of Eden Prairie to gain approval for rezoning. The subdivision also required certain improvements, including sewers, water mains, and an extension of Eden Prairie Road. The parties entered into an assessment agreement (agreement) on August 21, 2001, whereby respondent would complete the improvements and appellants' property would be subject to a special assessment in the amount of the cost of the improvements. The parties estimated that cost to be $114,897.25, and both agreed that that was the amount of special benefits the property would receive from the improvements.

On October 10, 2001, the commissioners filed their compensation award in the district court, which constitutes the official date of the taking. The commissioners awarded compensation in the amount of $2,847,346, but failed to apportion the award amongst the interested parties. Appellants conveyed the property to MAC in December at a closing. No action, including a city-council resolution adopting appellants' petition for the special assessment, was taken by respondent on the agreement either prior to, or following, the taking in October 2001. In August 2004, appellants sent respondent a letter, attempting to terminate the agreement effective October 1, 2004.

The motion for approval of a final certificate of the eminent-domain proceeding was filed with the district court on March 16, 2005, at which time MAC had paid compensation to the interested parties and placed the disputed funds in escrow. The district court set a date to finalize approval of the eminent-domain proceeding. Appellants and respondent both moved for disbursement of the escrowed funds. The district court granted respondent's motion and ...


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