STRIB IV, LLC fka Richard T. Burke I, LLC, Relator,
County of Hennepin, Respondent.
Court Office of Appellate Courts
W. Chamberlain, Ryan R. Kuhlmann, Chamberlain Law Firm,
Wayzata, Minnesota, for relator.
Swanson, Minnesota Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota;
and Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Jane N.B.
Holzer, Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota,
word "individuals" as used in Minnesota's Green
Acres statute, Minn. Stat. § 273.111 (2014), means
Minnesota's Green Acres statute does not authorize a
taxing authority to disregard a single-member limited
liability company as an entity separate from its member.
and decided by the court without oral argument.
County (the County) assessed real estate taxes on two
properties in Medina (the Subject Properties) owned by STRIB
IV, LLC (STRIB IV). STRIB IV submitted an application to the
County to classify the Subject Properties under
Minnesota's Green Acres statute, Minn. Stat. §
273.111 (2014). The County denied that application. The tax
court affirmed the County's decision. Because we conclude
the tax court correctly determined that STRIB IV is not
entitled to Green Acres classification, we affirm.
facts of this case are undisputed. STRIB IV is a
single-member limited liability company (LLC) of which
Richard T. Burke is the only member. Burke uses STRIB IV
solely as a landholding entity to shield himself from
personal liability. STRIB IV has owned the Subject Properties
(which total 39.96 acres) in fee simple since November 2007.
STRIB IV leases eight acres to an unspecified entity to
produce hay, and two acres grow noncommercial apples. Burke
does not live on the Subject Properties.
personally owns eight parcels adjoining the Subject
Properties, and owns a ninth adjoining parcel through another
single-member LLC, Richard T. Burke II, LLC. Those nine
parcels include 230 acres used for agriculture, and have
Green Acres classification.
IV applied to the County seeking Green Acres classification
for the Subject Properties. The County denied the
application,  and STRIB IV
appealed to the tax court. The parties agreed that, with no
factual disputes, the tax court only had to decide a single
legal issue: whether the Green Acres statute
"disregards" a single-member LLC as an entity
separate from its owner. In other words, is land owned by an
LLC like STRIB IV entitled to Green Acres classification? The
tax court concluded that the statute does not disregard
single-member LLCs. STRIB IV appealed that order by writ of
IV argues that the tax court erred when it concluded, as a
matter of law, that land owned by a single-member LLC such as
STRIB IV is not eligible for Green Acres classification. We
review de novo whether the tax court committed an error of
law, such as an erroneous interpretation of a statute.
ILHC of Eagan, LLC v. Cty. of Dakota, 693 N.W.2d
412, 418-19 (Minn. 2005).
Green Acres statute "provides property tax relief to
land that is primarily devoted to agricultural use 'and
located on the fringes or amidst expanding urban areas.'
" Raisanen v. Cty. of Hennepin, 678 N.W.2d 669,
670 n.1 (Minn. 2004) (quoting Barron v. Hennepin
Cty., 488 N.W.2d 290, 291 (Minn. 1992)). Property
classified under the Green Acres statute is valued
"solely with reference to its appropriate agricultural
classification, " rather than according to its market
value. Minn. Stat. § 273.111, subd. 4(a).
Minnesota Legislature included a directive that the Green
Acres statute "shall be broadly construed to achieve its
purpose." Id., subd. 12. That purpose is as
follows: "The legislature finds that it is in the
interest of the state to encourage and preserve farms by
mitigating the property tax impact of increasing ...