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Bartheld v. County of Koochiching

July 11, 2006

JEFF BARTHELD, ET AL., RELATORS,
v.
COUNTY OF KOOCHICHING, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.



SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. A temporary interim zoning ordinance not adopted in accordance with Minn. Stat. § 394.34 (2004), is invalid and does not provide a legally sufficient reason for denying an application for a conditional-use permit.

2. Neighborhood opposition based on generalized concerns not factually supported by the record is not a legally sufficient reason for the denial of a conditional-use-permit application.

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

Reversed and remanded

Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge; Dietzen, Judge; and Harten, Judge.*fn1

OPINION

Relators Jeff and Dana Bartheld challenge respondent Koochiching County's denial of their conditional-use-permit application, arguing that the denial was arbitrary and capricious because they met the requirements under the county's ordinance for the permit. Koochiching County argues that the denial was justified by the adoption of a moratorium ordinance*fn2 that applied to all bed-and-breakfast applications within the county. Because the moratorium ordinance was invalid and the county's decision was arbitrary and capricious, we reverse and remand.

FACTS

Relators Jeff and Dana Bartheld own a residence located on Rainy Lake in Koochiching County, Minnesota (the county). Relators wanted to convert their residence into a bed and breakfast (B&B) consisting of five rental units in addition to relators' living space. The residence is in a district zoned by the county as "residential-recreation." Under the county zoning ordinance, the permitted uses for this type of district includes one- and two-family dwellings but not home occupations or commercial businesses. In June 2005, after consulting with the county staff, relators applied for a conditional-use permit (CUP) to operate the B&B as a home occupation. In their application, relators asserted that they met all the requirements under the county's CUP ordinance to gain approval for the project.

On July 14, the Koochiching County Planning and Zoning Commission (zoning commission) held a hearing regarding relators' CUP application. Relators' neighbors expressed a number of concerns about the proposal, including concerns over parking, traffic, noise, and declining property values. The zoning commission delayed making a recommendation and scheduled a second hearing on the matter.

Before the second hearing, eight neighbors signed a petition opposing relators' application on the grounds that the proposal would (1) increase noise, traffic, and parking in the area; (2) require additional dock space along the lake; (3) possibly block their views of the lake; (4) possibly impact the adequacy of the neighborhood sewer system; (5) decrease the value of their properties; (6) introduce strangers into the neighborhood; and (7) be like having a hotel in the area.

In response to the neighbors' concerns, relators sent a letter to the zoning commission agreeing to amend their application by reducing the occupancy from five to two units, imposing a "quiet time" from 10:30 p.m. until 6:00 a.m., not offering liquor, restricting customer parking to relators' property, and requiring its customers to use the Rainy Lake Marina to dock their boats.

On August 11, the zoning commission held a second hearing. Following this hearing, the zoning commission concluded that relators met all the requirements for approval under the county's CUP ordinance and recommended approval of relators' application for a two-unit B&B for a period of five years subject to the revised conditions set forth by relators.

On August 17, the county's Environmental Services Director submitted a request to the County Board of Commissioners (county board) for action on relators' CUP application. The request noted that the project was "controversial" and that many neighbors were concerned over the proposal because of "road congestion, neighborhood incompatibility and other factors."

On August 23, the county board held a hearing on relators' application. Board members stated that they had received many phone calls on the issue from neighbors opposing the B&B and were advised of the ...


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