County District Court File No. 62-CV-18-2891
G. Kaardal, Mohrman, Kaardal & Erickson, P.A.,
Minneapolis, Minnesota (for appellant)
Ellison, Attorney General, Christina M. Brown, Max Kieley,
Assistant Attorneys General, St. Paul, Minnesota (for
Considered and decided by Schellhas, Presiding Judge;
Slieter, Judge; and Stauber, Judge. [*]
petition for a writ of quo warranto relief based on
a governmental agency's decision may overcome dismissal
pursuant to Minn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(e) upon a showing that the
decision, even if final, constitutes an ongoing exercise of
Pursuant to Minn. Stat. §§ 83A.01-.07 (2018), the
commissioner of natural resources lacks authority to change a
lake name which has existed for 40 years.
challenges dismissal of its petition for writ of quo
warranto under Minn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(e), arguing that
the commissioner of natural resources exceeded his authority,
pursuant to Minn. Stat. §§ 83A.01-.07, in changing
the name of Lake Calhoun to Bde Maka Ska. We reverse and
matter relates to the name change of Minnesota Public Water
No. 27-31, commonly known as Lake Calhoun (the lake). The
precise date the lake obtained this name is unknown, but it
is known as such in Henry Schoolcraft's journals through
the Northwestern region of the United States in 1821 and
William Keating's narrative account in 1884. Significant
to this opinion, the parties do not dispute that the name of
the lake was Lake Calhoun for more than 40 years.
2015, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (park board)
sought to change the lake name to Bde Maka Ska. Legal counsel
for the park board, however, determined that the park board
lacked the authority to change the name of the lake on its
own. The park board continued its effort to rename the lake
through the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners (board of
commissioners) and respondents Minnesota Department of
Natural Resources and Commissioner of Natural Resources
(together, DNR). On October 1, 2015, the park board, after
passing a resolution, changed signage around the lake to Bde
3, 2017, the park board approved the Calhoun/Bde Maka
Ska-Harriet master plan (master plan). The master plan
provides a 25-year vision for the area. A component of the
master plan notes "the [p]ark [b]oard's support for
the restoration of the Dakota name Bde Maka Ska to Lake
board of commissioners entertained a petition from the park
board to change the lake name to Bde Maka Ska, and it held a
public hearing on October 17, 2017. DNR "through [their]
agents or representatives, told the Hennepin County Board to
follow the statutory process found under [Minn. Stat.]
§§ 83A.05-.07." Minn. Stat. §§
83A.05-.07 apply to the changing and giving names to bodies
of water except for a name that has existed for 40 years may
not be modified under those provisions. The Hennepin County
Attorney's Office informed the board of commissioners
that it "had no role in renaming a body of water whose
name was in existence for more than 40 years."
the board of commissioners, appellant Save Lake
Calhoun presented a petition on behalf of 318 of
the 334 homeowners around the lake, opposing the name. On
November 21, 2017, the board of commissioners passed, by a
vote of 4 to 3, a resolution recommending that the DNR change
the lake's name. Resolution No. 17-0489 provided:
BE IT RESOLVED, that after following the process outlined in
Minn. Stat. §§ 83A.05[-].07, including a public
hearing, the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners
recommends that the [DNR] take the steps necessary to change
the name of Lake Calhoun, Minnesota Public Water No. 27-31,
located in Sections 4 and 5 of Township 28 North, Range 24
West; and in Sections 32 and 33 of Township 29 North, Range
24 West, in the City of Minneapolis, to be Bde Maka Ska.
December 15, 2017, the resolution was served on the DNR. On
January 18, 2018, the DNR approved the name change in a
"Names of Geographic Features Order." The DNR's
order identified historical authority for it to modify the
lake's name and its "long[-]standing policy . . .
encouraging counties requesting that the [DNR c]ommissioner
approve a name change pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 83A.02
and Minn. Stat. § 83A.04 to comply with the notice and
hearing requirements set forth in Minn. Stat. §
83A.06." The order continued: (1) the board of
commissioners complied with chapter 83A notice and hearing
requirements; (2) the U.S. Board of Geographic Names protocol
supported the name change; (3) Lake Calhoun was a duplicative
lake name; (4) the elected members of the board of
commissioners recommended the name change after a public
hearing and receiving testimony, which the DNR commissioner
found constituted compelling evidence for the name change in
the public interest; (5) the DNR weighed the information in
Resolution No. 17-0489 with the written comments received and
found the name change served the public interest; and (6) the
40-year restriction under Minn. Stat. § 83A.04, subd. 1,
did not apply to the DNR's authority under Minn. Stat.
§ 83A.02. Therefore, the DNR commissioner approved the
renaming of the lake from Lake Calhoun to Bde Maka Ska.
February 13, 2018, appellant petitioned this court for a writ
of certiorari. This court dismissed the writ on
March 6, 2018, concluding that the order is not a
quasi-judicial decision reviewable by certiorari.
In re Proposed Renaming of Lake Calhoun, No.
A18-0261 (Minn.App. Mar. 6, 2018) (order).
April 25, 2018, appellant petitioned for a writ of quo
warranto in Ramsey County District Court. The DNR
moved to dismiss or, in the alternative, to change venue. The
district court found that appellant had standing to bring the
petition but granted the
DNR's motion to dismiss under Minn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(e),
concluding that appellant failed to establish an ongoing act
necessary to obtain quo warranto relief.
appellant have standing to petition for a writ of quo
the district court err by dismissing appellant's petition
for writ of quo warranto for failure to state a
claim for which relief may be granted under Minn. R. Civ. P.
Does the DNR commissioner have authority pursuant to Minn.
Stat. §§ 83A.01-.07 to change a lake name which has
existed for 40 years?
dismissal under Minn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(e) is reviewed de
novo and this court accepts "the facts alleged in
the complaint as true and construe[s] all reasonable
inferences in favor of the nonmoving party." Walsh
v. U.S. Bank, N.A., 851 N.W.2d 598, 606 (Minn. 2014).
Similarly, matters of standing and mootness are addressed
under a de novo standard of review. In re
Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, 883 N.W.2d
778, 784 (Minn. 2016) (standing); Verhein v. Piper,
917 N.W.2d 96, 100 (Minn.App. 2018) (mootness). Matters of
statutory interpretation are also analyzed under de
novo review. Staab v. Diocese of St. Cloud, 853
N.W.2d 713, 716 (Minn. 2014).
Appellant has standing to petition for a writ of quo
is a legal requirement that a party have a sufficient stake
in a justiciable controversy to seek relief from a
court." McCaughtry v. City of Red Wing, 808
N.W.2d 331, 338 (Minn. 2011) (quotation omitted). This court
may determine standing as a legal issue when the facts are
not disputed. Joel v. Wellman, 551 N.W.2d 729, 730
(Minn.App. 1996), review denied (Minn. Oct. 29,
1996). "The question of standing, which can be raised by
[appellate] court[s] on [their] own motion, is essential to
our exercise of jurisdiction." Annandale Advocate v.
City of Annandale, 435 N.W.2d 24, 27 (Minn. 1989);
see also ...