Posted by: Patricia Salkin | September 8, 2010

MN Supreme Court Says Failure to State Reasons for Rezoning Denial in Writing Does Not Trigger Automatic Approval

After Cook County denied Johnson’s request to rezone two parcels of property for commercial use, Johnson brought a declaratory judgment action claiming that his rezoning application was automatically approved because the County did not state the reasons for denying his request in writing as required by Minn. Stat. § 15.99.  Johnson alleged that the County erroneously denied his application, particularly in light of the County having approved another developer’s application to rezone a portion of its property.  

The Court concluded that Minn. Stat. §15.99(2) addressing written requirements, does not trigger automatic approval when the Board does not comply.  The sentence in the statute which references a time deadline is separate from the sentence, which references the written reasons.  And because they are separate, the written reason sentence does not read so as to provide a consequence for failure to act.  The time deadline sentence in the statute, however, does provide a consequence for failure to act. The Court stressed however, that an applicant could still argue that the Board’s failure to provide written documentation of the legally sufficient reasons for denying an application demonstrate actions which are arbitrary and capricious.

Johnson v. Cook County, 2010 WL 2943494 (Minn.7/29/2010)

The opinion can be accessed at:

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