United States District Court, D. Minnesota
BRADLEY A. HOYT and THE VILLAGE, LLC, a Minnesota Limited Liability Company, Plaintiffs,
THE CITY OF ST. ANTHONY VILLAGE; MARK Y; JERRY FAUST; BREANNE ROTHSTEIN; WSB & ASSOCIATES, INC., a Minnesota corporation; STACIE KVILVANG; EHLERS & ASSOCIATES, INC., a Minnesota corporation; and JAY R. LINDGREN, Defendants.
M. Johnson and William R. Skolnick, SKOLNICK & JOYCE,
P.A., for plaintiffs.
M. Baker and Caitlinrose H. Fisher, GREENE ESPEL PLLP, for
defendants City of St. Anthony Village, Mark Casey, and Jerry
Valerie Sims, Mark J. Heley, and Elizabeth P. Ridley, HELEY,
DUNCAN & MELANDER, PLLP, for defendants Breanne Rothstein
and WSB & Associates, Inc.
J. Thomson, Peter G. Mikhail, and Elizabeth C. Brodeen-Kuo,
KENNEDY & GRAVEN, CHARTERED, for defendants Stacie
Kvilvang and Ehlers & Associates, Inc.
M. Lancaster and Ken Jorgensen, DORSEY & WHITNEY LLP, for
defendant Jay R. Lindgren.
Patrick J. Schiltz United States District Judge
Bradley Hoyt is a property developer; plaintiff The Village,
LLC (“The Village”) is one of Hoyt's
companies. The Village purchased a dilapidated mobile- home
park in defendant City of St. Anthony Village
(“City”) with the intention of replacing it with
high-density housing. Hoyt eventually concluded that he
needed tax- increment financing (“TIF”) to make
the project work. City officials were generally supportive of
Hoyt's plans, but an outside analysis commissioned by the
City concluded that TIF was unnecessary. The advice of the
outside analyst is not binding on the City-and the City has
not yet decided whether it will provide TIF-but Hoyt and The
Village have nevertheless filed this action against the City,
various city officials, and other individuals involved in the
process, claiming a wide-ranging fraud and civil conspiracy
as well as violations of the Fair Housing Act
(“FHA”), 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq., and the
Equal Protection Clause.
matter is before the Court on various defense motions to
dismiss or for judgment on the pleadings. For the reasons
that follow, the motions are granted and the Court dismisses
the amended complaint without prejudice.
Property Group (“CPG”) signed a letter of intent
to purchase the mobile-home park and then assigned its
interest in the park to The Village. Am. Compl. ¶¶
27, 29. On February 1, 2016, Hoyt and other representatives
of The Village met with defendants Mark Casey (the city
manager) and Breanne Rothstein (the city
planner) to inform them of the letter of intent
and discuss the proposed redevelopment of the site. Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 28-29. Casey and Rothstein told Hoyt that
the City wanted him to have “maximum flexibility”
and would not place any limitations on the proposal. Am.
Compl. ¶ 29. They also said “the more density the
better.” Am. Compl. ¶ 29. Casey and Rothstein made
similar remarks at other meetings with Hoyt and his
associates. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 30, 34, 54.
April 27, 2016, The Village signed a $6 million purchase
agreement for the mobile-home park. Am. Compl. ¶ 31. The
sale closed on June 13, 2016. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 34,
49-50. At the time, there were 95 occupied homes in the park.
Am. Compl. ¶ 16. Shortly after the sale closed, park
residents and Aeon (an affordable-housing developer) filed a
lawsuit against The Village. Am. Compl. ¶ 51. As
described below, the suit was settled at some point in 2017.
Am. Compl. ¶ 66.
high-density development (such as the development planned by
plaintiffs) requires an Environmental Assessment Worksheet
(“EAW”). Am. Compl. ¶ 35. The Village
accordingly submitted a sketch plan with the preliminary
information necessary for preparing an EAW. Am. Comp. ¶
35. The sketch plan envisioned a total of 837 units, or about
54 units per acre. That exceeded the 40-units-per-acre
limitation that was set forth in the City's 2008
Comprehensive Plan. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 35, 40, 69. About
90 of the proposed units met the federal affordable-housing
standard. Am. Compl. ¶ 35.
City's planning commission held a hearing on the sketch
plan in October 2016 and did not raise any concerns. Am.
Compl. ¶ 36. Rothstein then prepared an EAW, which found
no negative environmental impact and hence no need for an
Environmental Impact Study (“EIS”). Am. Compl.
¶¶ 37-38, 56-57. The EAW was presented to the City
Council in February 2017, and the City Council agreed that no
EIS was necessary. Am. Compl. ¶ 43.
February 2017, City staff identified stormwater management as
an area of concern regarding the project. Am. Compl. ¶
44. Representatives from The Village met with City staff and
proposed revisions to address the issue. Am. Compl.
¶¶ 45, 63. To accommodate the revisions, The
Village entered into a purchase agreement for an adjoining
site. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 46, 64. In a May
2, 2017 letter, Rothstein notified plaintiffs that an
amendment to the City's 2008 Comprehensive Plan would be
necessary if the development included more than 40 units per
acre. The City had previously indicated that it could address
the issue in the City's 2040 Comprehensive Plan. Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 42, 47.
30, 2017, The Village closed the mobile-home park. Am. Compl.
¶ 53. The following month, The Village submitted
development applications to the City. Am. Compl. ¶ 65.
The Village's proposal included a separate building that
would provide affordable housing. Am. Compl. ¶ 64. After
The Village submitted its applications, Aeon and the
residents of the mobile-home park settled their lawsuit
against The Village. Am. Compl. ¶ 66. Under the
settlement agreement, Aeon was put in charge of developing
100 “deeply affordable” housing units. Am. Compl.
¶ 67. In later meetings, the City's mayor (defendant
Jerry Faust) told Hoyt that he “hated Aeon, ”
that “Aeon builds shit, ” and that Aeon would
never be allowed to build any affordable housing in the City.
Am. Compl. ¶ 67.
development plan came before the City Council on October 10,
2017. Am. Compl. ¶ 70. As noted, the proposed
development called for approximately 54 units per acre.
Before the City Council took up the development plan, Casey
presented a resolution limiting the development to 25 units
per acre. Am. Compl. ¶ 70. The City Council
then passed a resolution denying the Comprehensive Plan
amendments and rejecting the development plan. Am. Compl.
later, Hoyt met with Faust and several other individuals. Am.
Compl. ¶ 74. Hoyt told the City that a development
limited to 25 units per acre would require TIF to be
financially viable. Am. Compl. ¶ 75. Faust agreed that
TIF was appropriate and would be available, and defendant Jay
Lindgren (the City attorney) added that Hoyt would have to
return ten percent of the TIF to the City to cover the
City's costs. Am. Compl. ¶ 76. From October 2017
through the spring of 2018, Hoyt continued to discuss TIF
with City representatives, and he prepared a revised
development proposal. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 77-78, 80. On
January 9, 2018, Lindgren confirmed that the City supported
the project and that there were no obstacles to obtaining
TIF. Am. Compl. ¶ 78.
February 2018, the City approved The Village's revised
proposal, which included 430 units, including 90 to 100
“deeply affordable” units. Am. Compl. ¶
80. The City retained defendant Stacie Kvilvang, an
independent consultant, to prepare a TIF analysis. Am. Compl.
¶ 80. Kvilvang issued a memo concluding that TIF was
unnecessary. Am. Compl. ¶ 81. Before the City took any
action in response to the memo, Hoyt and The Village filed
Standard of Review
Lindgren, Rothstein, and WSB have filed motions to dismiss;
the remaining defendants have filed motions for judgment on
the pleadings. Motions for judgment on the pleadings under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) are assessed under the same standards as
motions to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Ashley
Cty. v. Pfizer, Inc., 552 F.3d 659, 665 (8th Cir. 2009).
In reviewing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a court must accept as true all
of the factual allegations in the complaint and draw all
reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Aten
v. Scottsdale Ins. Co., 511 F.3d 818, 820 (8th Cir.
2008). Although the factual allegations need not be detailed,
they must be sufficient to “raise a right to relief