In the 2010 decision Krummenacher v. City of Minnetonka the Minnesota Supreme Court adopted a restrictive interpretation of “undue hardship” for city boards of adjustment to apply when deciding on variance applications. In May, the State of Minnesota “remedied” the situation by enacting legislation that put a “practical difficulties” standard into Minnesota state code. Under the new law, practical difficulties means (1) the property owner proposes to use the property in a reasonable manner permitted by the ordinance, (2) the owner’s plight is due to circumstances unique to the property not created by the owner, and (3) the variance will not alter the locality’s essential character. If the variance is granted with conditions, those conditions must be directly related to, and bear a rough proportionality to the impact of the variance.
The difference between “undue hardship” as applied by the court, and “practical difficulties” as passed by the legislature, is the absence of the requirement that the landowner show the property cannot be put to a reasonable use but for the variance.
The a copy of the new law can be accessed at: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bin/bldbill.php?bill=H0052.2.html&session=ls87
Hat tip to Gary Taylor at the Midwest Planning Bluz Blog for posting this and explaining similarities with Iowa law here: http://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/planningBLUZ/2011/08/15/minnesota-amends-code-to-change-variance-standard/