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Township of Midway v. City of Proctor

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

May 13, 2013

Township of Midway, petitioner, Appellant, City of Duluth, Petitioner Below,
v.
City of Proctor, Respondent, Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings, Respondent Below

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

St. Louis County District Court File No. 69DU-CV-12-520

Kenneth D. Butler, Duluth, Minnesota (for appellant)

John H. Bray, Duluth, Minnesota (for respondent)

Considered and decided by Chutich, Presiding Judge; Peterson, Judge; and Ross, Judge.

CHUTICH, Judge

In this dispute concerning annexation of real property, appellant Township of Midway (township) challenges the district court's grant of summary judgment for respondent City of Proctor (Proctor). The township contends that because the petition for annexation contained an erroneous legal description of the property, the petition was legally deficient and the resulting ordinance annexing the property is invalid. Because Minn. Stat. § 414.033, subd. 2(3) (2012) does not require an annexation petition to include a legal description, and because the statutory requirements were met, we affirm.

FACTS

In December 2011, two St. Louis County property owners filed a petition with the Proctor City Council asking Proctor to annex their land, which lies along the I-35 corridor heading into Duluth. The petition, signed by both property owners, states that the unincorporated property they want Proctor to annex is 67.4 acres, abuts Proctor's south side, and "is not presently served by public wastewater facilities or public wastewater facilities are not otherwise available." The petition further states that "[t]he reason for the requested annexation is that the [p]etitioners wish to have complete city services and utilities." The petitioners also attached legal descriptions of the parcels to be annexed.

Proctor held a public hearing on the petition and passed an ordinance approving the annexation, and an administrative-law judge approved the ordinance in February 2012. Shortly after the approval, the township and the City of Duluth[1] asked the administrative-law judge to withdraw the approval, contending that Proctor failed to follow certain procedures required by statute and that "the petition and the ordinance are legally defective in that the legal description used in them is incorrect." The administrative-law judge denied the request and affirmed the order approving the annexation ordinance.

The township and the City of Duluth applied for review of the administrative-law judge's decision in St. Louis County District Court and asked the court to enjoin Proctor "from taking any action in reliance on the validity of the annexation including, but not limited to, rezoning or issuance of building permits." The district court denied the motion for injunctive relief, and the parties later filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The district court granted summary judgment for Proctor, upholding the annexation, and denied summary judgment for the City of Duluth and the township. This appeal followed.

DECISION

Our review of a district court's grant of summary judgment is de novo. Weavewood, Inc. v. S & P Home Inv., LLC, 821 N.W.2d 576, 579 (Minn. 2012). Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that either party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Minn. R. Civ. P. 56.03. On appeal, we review the record to determine whether any genuine material factual issues exist and whether the district court erroneously applied the law. Dahlin v. Kroening, 796 N.W.2d 503, 504 (Minn. 2011).

Minnesota law allows municipalities to annex abutting, unincorporated land by either board order or ordinance. Minn. Stat. §§ 414.031, .033 (2012); see Rockford Twp.v. City of Rockford, 608 N.W.2d 903, 906 (Minn.App. 2000). The owners of the land at issue here petitioned Proctor for annexation under Minn. Stat. ยง 414.033, ...


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