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Josh Boock v. Frohn Township

April 29, 2013

JOSH BOOCK, APPELLANT,
v.
FROHN TOWNSHIP, RESPONDENT.



Beltrami County District Court File No. 04-CV-09-4843

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

This opinion will be unpublished and may not be cited except as provided by Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2012).

Affirmed

Considered and decided by Worke, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Schellhas, Judge.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION KALITOWSKI, Judge

Appellant Josh Boock challenges the district court's determination that Walnut Road, which is adjacent to his property, is a public road. Appellant argues that the district court erred in determining that (1) continued public use of Walnut Road established a common-law dedication and (2) Frohn Township (the township) established the possession exception under the Marketable Title Act. Appellant also challenges the district court's failure to make a determination as to the road's width. We affirm.

DECISION

I.

"The question of public dedication is one of fact, and the trial court's determination on the matter will not be reversed unless it is clearly erroneous." Ravenna Twp. v. Grunseth, 314 N.W.2d 214, 217 (Minn. 1981). The evidence is reviewed in the light most favorable to the district court's findings. Id. "'[D]ue regard shall be given to the opportunity of the trial court to judge the credibility of the witnesses.'" Henly v. Chisago Cnty., 370 N.W.2d 920, 923 (Minn. App. 1985) (quoting Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01).

Under common-law dedication, "a public road is established if (1) a landowner intends (either expressly or impliedly) to have his land appropriated and devoted to the public use, and (2) there is public acceptance of the land for that use." Henly, 370 N.W.2d at 923 (citing Bengtson v. Vill. of Marine on St. Croix, 310 Minn. 508, 509, 246 N.W.2d 582, 584 (1976) and Flynn v. Beisel, 257 Minn. 531, 540, 102 N.W.2d 284, 291 (1960)). "[D]edication is irrevocable after public acceptance unless the public consents to revocation." Sackett v. Storm, 480 N.W.2d 377, 380 (Minn. App. 1992) (citing Keiter v. Berge, 219 Minn. 374, 380, 18 N.W.2d 35, 38 (1945)), review denied (Minn. Mar. 26, 1992). "Thus, an owner's dedication binds his or her successors in interest." Id. (citing Daugherty v. Sowers, 243 Minn. 572, 575, 68 N.W.2d 866, 868-69 (1955)).

Appellant argues that the district court erred in determining that continued public use of Walnut Road established a common-law dedication. We disagree.

Appellant argues that the question of public dedication turns on whether the township maintained the road, relying on the requirements in Minn. Stat. § 160.05 (2012) and caselaw involving statutory dedications. But the district court concluded that a common-law dedication occurred and specifically declined to decide whether the elements of a statutory dedication were met. See Wojahn v. Johnson, 297 N.W.2d 298, 306 n.4 (Minn. 1980) ("Among the differences between statutory and common-law dedication, however, is that no specific time period of public use and maintenance is required for a common-law dedication. All that is required is that intent and acceptance coincide, and thus dedication may be made instantly."). Thus, the issue is whether the district court clearly erred in finding that the two requirements for a common-law dedication are met: (1) intent on behalf of the landowner for such use and (2) public acceptance of the land for that use. Henly, 370 N.W.2d at 923.

Intent

"An intent to dedicate need not be a conscious intent but may be inferred from the owner's unequivocal conduct." Sackett, 480 N.W.2d at 380 (citing Anderson v. Birkeland, 229 Minn. 77, 83, 38 N.W.2d 215, 219 (1949)). "Acquiescence, without objection, in the public use for a long time, is such conduct as proves and indicates to the public an ...


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