In re: the Appeal from the Final Order of the Board of Managers of the Bois de Sioux Watershed District Redetermining Benefits and Damages for J.D. No. 14 Dated 20th day of February, 2014 and In re: the Appeal from the Final Order of the Board of Managers of the Bois de Sioux Watershed District Assessing Costs and Expenses of Redetermination Associated with the Redetermination of Benefits of J.D. No. 14 Dated the 27th day of March, 2014 and In re the Appeal from the Final Order of the Board of Managers of the Bois de Sioux Watershed District Assessing Costs and Expenses of Redetermination Associated with the Redetermination of Benefits of J.D. No. 14 Dated the 18th day of December, 2014
County District Court File Nos. 78-CV-14-43, 78-CV-14-60,
in part and reversed in part
L. Lundquist, Ryan A. Gustafson, Frundt & Johnson, Ltd.,
Blue Earth, Minnesota (for appellants Anita Antrim and Kent
C. Athens, Cline & Jenson, P.A., Fergus Falls, Minnesota
(for respondent Bois de Sioux Watershed District)
C. Braegelmann, Gislason & Hunter LLP, New Ulm, Minnesota
(for intervenors Haney, et al.)
G. Lina, Fluegel, Anderson, McLaughlin & Brutlag,
Chartered, Morris, Minnesota (for intervenors Ehlers, et al.)
Considered and decided by Ross, Presiding Judge; Schellhas,
Judge; and Muehlberg, Judge. [*]
drainage authority may not limit the scope of a
redetermination of benefits and damages under Minnesota
Statutes section 103E.351 (2014) to the drainage system's
originally assessed area.
Costs and expenses resulting from a redetermination of
benefits and damages can be assessed against the drainage
system's account under Minnesota Statutes section
103E.651, subdivision 2 (2014).
appeal the summary-judgment dismissal of their claims
challenging the Bois de Sioux Watershed District's
redetermination of benefits and damages for Judicial Ditch
No. 14 and assessment of redetermination costs and expenses
against the drainage system. We affirm in part and reverse in
Ditch No. 14 (JD 14) is a public drainage system assessed as
benefiting or damaging 29, 479.6 acres of land within Grant
and Traverse Counties. The drainage system was established by
court order in 1950 and was constructed by the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers. The Bois de Sioux Watershed District
assumed authority over JD 14 in 1991. The original benefits
assessed for the drainage system totaled $489, 099.67.
2005, the watershed district's board of managers
concluded that a redetermination of benefits was appropriate
in connection with potential repairs to JD 14 because the
assessment area was small relative to the ditch system as a
whole. The board of managers commenced a redetermination and
appointed viewers under Minnesota Statutes section 103E.351.
The viewers produced a report indicating that land values had
greatly increased since 1950 and that approximately 35, 000
additional acres could be assessed benefits under Minnesota
Statutes section 103E.315, subdivision 5 (2014). The viewers
also found an additional 400, 000 acres of land benefited
from JD 14 under section 103E.315, subdivisions 6 and 7
(2014). The watershed district adopted the viewers'
report and issued a final redetermination order on September
30, 2010. Following an appeal by two groups of landowners,
the district court vacated the order. This court affirmed the
vacation, holding that because the watershed district did not
strictly comply with the requirements of section 103E.351,
subdivision 1, the watershed district failed to acquire
jurisdiction and its proceedings were void. In re Bd. of
Managers of Bois de Sioux Watershed Dist., 818 N.W.2d
583, 587 (Minn.App. 2012).
watershed district's board of managers then spent several
months considering its next course of action. On December 20,
2012, the board passed a resolution authorizing a second
redetermination of benefits for JD 14 and appointed viewers.
But the board was concerned about the cost of the
redetermination and had doubts about the viewers'
methodology in assessing benefits to 400, 000 additional
acres of land based on section 103E.315, subdivisions 6 and
7. So the board resolved that "the Drainage Authority
advises the viewers appointed herein that the District only
wishes to consider assessing lands within the original
viewers performed their area-restricted investigation and
found benefits to the originally assessed properties in
excess of $33, 000, 000. On February 20, 2014, after several
public hearings, the watershed district adopted the
viewers' report and issued a final redetermination order.
On March 27, 2014, the watershed district issued an order
assessing costs and expenses against JD 14 for the 2014
redetermination as well as the prior, failed redetermination
effort. On December 18, 2014, the watershed district assessed
an additional $60, 000 in redetermination costs and expenses
against JD 14.
within the originally assessed area appealed the watershed
district's redetermination and costs orders to the
district court. They argued that the watershed district
failed to comply with section 103E.351 when it instructed the
viewers to limit their investigation to the original
assessment area. They also claimed that the redetermination
costs could not be assessed solely against JD 14 and should
instead be paid out of the watershed district's general
fund. Two groups of persons owning land outside the
originally assessed area intervened and opposed the appeals.
All parties moved the district court for summary judgment.
The court granted partial summary judgment to the watershed
district and intervenors. The parties stipulated to the
dismissal of the landowners' claims regarding the amount
of the cost-and-expense assessments and agreed that $910,
299.27 is the total amount of costs and expenses reflected in
the watershed district's ...