Posted by: Patricia Salkin | May 9, 2015

MN Supreme Court Finds City’s Determination that Proposed Mitigation Conditions for Conditional Permit Request were Insufficient for Senior Living Campus was Not Unreasonable, Arbitrary, or Capricious

RDNT, LLC owned the Martin Luther Care Campus consisting of two buildings: the Martin Luther Care Center and Meadow Woods Assisted Living. The Campus provides a variety of services, including assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, adult day care, and transitional care. RDNT submitted an application to the City for a conditional use permit, seeking to expand its existing assisted living services by adding a third building to the Campus. On appeal, RDNT, LLC alleged that the City of Bloomington’s decision to deny RDNT’s conditional use permit application was unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious, and to hold that the City did not properly consider RDNT’s proposed traffic-mitigating conditions.

RDNT argued that each of the City’s four reasons for denying RDNT’s conditional use permit application was arbitrary and capricious; however, the court limited its consideration to the City’s fourth reason: that the proposed use would violate subdivision (e)(5) of the City’s conditional use permit ordinance. The City’s ordinance states in relevant part: “The following findings must be made prior to the approval of a conditional use permit: … (5) The proposed use will not be injurious to the surrounding neighborhood or otherwise harm the public health, safety and welfare.” Having found the ordinance legally sufficient, the court next addressed whether the City had a reasonable factual basis to determine that the proposed use would injure the surrounding neighborhood or otherwise harm the public health, safety, and welfare.

Here, the court found that the fact that a street could physically handle more traffic does not determine whether the neighborhood or the public could handle more traffic. Because the City relied on specific evidence such as traffic studies, average street numbers, and neighborhood testimony to conclude that the proposed use would nonetheless injure or otherwise harm the neighborhood, the court found there was a sufficient factual basis. Furthermore, the record showed that the City adequately considered the proposed mitigating conditions in several ways. The City estimated that the daily number of trips would increase after the expansion from 1,145 to somewhere between 1,377 and 1,447. The City’s engineer estimated that average traffic counts for a residential street were between 300 to 500 trips, and that the public tends to complain once traffic increases to 1,000 trips per day on such a street. Accordingly, the court found the City did not act unreasonably, arbitrarily, or capriciously when it denied RDNT’s conditional use permit application.

RDNT, LLC v City of Bloomington, 861 NW 2d 71 (MN 3/18/2015)

The opinion can be accessed at: http://mn.gov/lawlib/archive/supct/2015/OPA130310-031815.pdf

 

 


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